ST. LOUIS — Aeneas Williams made sure Atlanta didn’t score and the Marc Bulger-to-Torry Holt combination took care of the rest.
St. Louis dominated the Falcons in every facet Monday night on their way to a 36-0 win at the Edward Jones Dome. The shutout was the first in the 8-year history of the team’s tenure in St. Louis. The Rams improved to 3-2 with the win and Atlanta dropped to 1-4.
The Rams’ offense outgained the Falcons 496 to 209, including a 155-yard margin in the third quarter. The Rams time of possession was 37:20, while the Falcons had the ball for 22:40. The St. Louis defense held Atlanta to negative four yards in the quarter and the offense gained 151 yards, led by Bulger’s 114 passing yards.
St. Louis coach Mike Martz said he was impressed with his team’s complete dominance, but especially the defense.
“The progress of this defense has been amazing,” Martz said.
Defensive end Leonard Little was a little more excited about making St. Louis history.
“It was great,” Little said. “We wanted to keep them at zero tonight and we did the job and finished them out. We just had to get the shutout.”
Each time the Falcons had a scoring opportunity, Williams was there to ensure they didn’t finish it. The St. Louis offense refused to let its defensive counterparts take all of the credit, though. Bulger and Holt made sure the offense got its proper respect, connecting 11 times for 161 yards and a touchdown. Bulger was 23-of-34 for 352 yards and two touchdowns.
Atlanta threatened to score three times, but Williams single-handedly thwarted two drives. The Falcons drove to the St. Louis 14 sparked by a 30-yard completion from Doug Johnson to Brian Finneran and the powerful running of tailback T.J. Duckett. Duckett gained 25 yards on five carries to put Atlanta in striking distance. Williams nixed the Falcons scoring plans, intercepting Johnson’s floater in the right corner of the end zone with 6:58 to go in the first quarter. Williams tried to make a good play great when he elected to return the interception. He tripped at the 1, giving the Rams a long field to work with.
Williams struck again in the second quarter. Johnson hit tight end Alge Crumpler for a 24-yard gain over the middle when Williams hit him from the side, forcing Crumpler to fumble. Williams recovered at the St. Louis 42.
Williams said he always looks to make big plays to give his team a spark.
“One of the things we practice all the time is getting to the ball and not just getting to the ball, but going after the ball,” Williams said. “The interception was just reading the quarterback’s eyes and going over to make a play.”
The Falcons stopped themselves on their next drive. Johnson hit receiver Quentin McCord for 33 yards to put Atlanta in scoring range. A nine-yard completion to tailback Warrick Dunn gave the Falcons third-and-1 at the Rams 32. Johnson completed the third-down pass, but a holding call on left guard Travis Claridge nullified it, essentially pushing the Falcons out of field goal range. Two plays later, St. Louis’ Richard Angulo blocked Jay Feely’s 60-yard field goal attempt.
St. Louis started its scoring with a Jeff Wilkins’ 28-yard field goal. The Rams drove 89 yards, most of which Isaac Bruce had a hand in. Bruce caught two passes for 28 yards and completed his second career pass, a 25-yarder to Holt to set up Wilkins’ field goal.
The Rams scored again three possessions later on Bulger’s 3-yard quarterback sneak to give St. Louis a 10-0 lead. Bulger and Holt sparked the 10 play, 58-yard drive. Bulger completed four passes for 42 yards and Holt caught two passes for 22 yards, including a 16-yard catch that moved him past Jack Snow for fifth on the Rams’ career list of receptions with 341. Dane Looker made a key catch on third-and-10 at the Atlanta 47 to keep the drive going.
Rams tailback Gordon had 19 carries for a career-high 92 yards.