- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 24, 2002

OFFENSE
Washington: And the QBs go round and round. Shane Matthews lost his job for the second time after three straight bad games, and now Danny Wuerffel gets a second chance. RB Stephen Davis and the ground game need a jump-start after two weeks of under-use. Alex Sulfsted replaces LG David Loverne, and Zeron Flemister will likely start for injured TE Walter Rasby.
St. Louis:
QB Kurt Warner, the 1999 and 2001 NFL MVP, returns from seven weeks on the shelf with a broken finger. RB Marshall Faulk, the league's MVP in 2000, is expected to be back after sitting out last week with foot and ankle injuries. WRs Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce have combined for 106 catches and seven TDs. LT Orlando Pace and RG Adam Timmerman are Pro Bowl vets.
Edge:
Rams


DEFENSE
Washington: The Redskins only allowed one drive of more than nine plays or 54 yards last week, but they still couldn't stop a team (the Giants) with one WR, a rookie TE and a mediocre ground game. CB Champ Bailey, LB LaVar Arrington and DT Daryl Gardener are all having Pro Bowl-level years. Washington ranks ninth overall but 23rd in scoring defense.
St. Louis:
After a rough start, the Rams have come on, allowing more than 20 points just once during their current five-game winning streak despite having lost Pro Bowl CB Aeneas Williams for the year. SS Adam Archuleta's 97 tackles are 30 more than his nearest teammate. DE Leonard Little has seven sacks, the same number the defense had last week against Chicago.
Edge:
Rams


SPECIAL TEAMS
Washington: K James Tuthill's pratfall on the potential game-winning FG last week was symbolic of this unit's hapless season. Even Bailey, a star college PR, has been affected.
St. Louis:
The Rams are just as ineffective. KR Terrence Wilkins has been a bust. K Jeff Wilkins has missed from 35 and 39 yards. P Mitch Berger's net average is 34 yards.
Edge:
Even


COACHING
Washington: Steve Spurrier rightly blamed himself for passing so much in the Nov.10 loss at Jacksonville and then compounded his mistake last Sunday at Giants Stadium. Spurrier also didn't look good by mistakenly ripping snapper Ethan Albright last week and by suggesting Monday that he was going to play Wuerffel and Patrick Ramsey each a half today.
St. Louis: Mike Martz, an "offensive genius" like Spurrier, has better weapons but the same arrogance. Martz wasn't using Faulk enough during the Rams' stunning 0-5 start, as was also the case during the upset loss to New England in last January's Super Bowl. But Martz deserves plenty of credit for keeping his team together during the awful beginning.
Edge:
Rams


INTANGIBLES
Washington: Other than an upset victory over the defending champion Rams in 2000, the Redskins don't have a lot of intangible edges. Washington is 2-2 at home, and the losses were one-sided. Davis and OT Jon Jansen have made their frustrations with Spurrier's pass-happy attack clear. At least the defense is playing well and in unison.
St. Louis:
The Rams, the NFC's hottest team, are thinking Super Bowl again with today's likely return of Warner and Faulk. If the Redskins couldn't control the Giants' passing game, imagine the damage Warner, Bruce, Holt and Faulk could inflict. Coordinator Lovie Smith and his quick defense could make life miserable for Wuerffel.
Edge:
Rams


INJURIES
Washington: Doubtful: TE Walter Rasby (abdomen); Questionable: P Bryan Barker (ankle), G Brenden Stai (knee); Probable: DT Daryl Gardener (back), WR Rod Gardner (shoulder), LB Kevin Mitchell (knee), DT Carl Powell (groin), QB Danny Wuerffel (shoulder).
St. Louis:
Out: FB Chris Hetherington (groin); Questionable: RB Marshall Faulk (ankle); Probable: QB Marc Bulger (finger), OT Orlando Pace (calf).


PLAYERS TO WATCH
Washington: Wuerffel's first start since 1998 lasted all of six plays on Oct.5 at Tennessee before he sprained his shoulder. Spurrier has always believed in Wuerffel, who won the Heisman Trophy at Florida in 1996 while giving the coach his only national title. Not many other coaches would give such an immobile, weak-armed passer a chance to start in the NFL.
St. Louis:
Warner had a bizarre September, completing 70 percent of his passes but with one TD and eight INTs. In a brief relief stint Monday, Warner still looked to be favoring the pinkie he broke in Week4. However, Warner the NFL's all-time passer-rating leader, said he's fine. Accuracy and a quick release, not a cannon of an arm, have always been his strengths.
David Elfin


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