|Warner gets another homecoming game|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 30 October 2008 10:04|
A two-time NFL MVP with the Rams, he's in his fourth season with the Arizona Cardinals. He'll make his fifth start against his former team on Sunday, and second in St. Louis. Memory lane is beckoning again, though, for the man who rose from Arena Football League obscurity to lead the Rams to two Super Bowls from 1999-2001.
On Tuesday, Warner had dinner with his former Rams coach Dick Vermeil, who'll be added to the franchise's Ring of Honor at the Edward Jones Dome at halftime Sunday. He talked with retired running back Marshall Faulk a few weeks ago, and renewed acquaintances with Isaac Bruce, the wide receiver who caught the winning touchdown pass to beat the Titans for the franchise's only Super Bowl title in 2000. Bruce now is with the 49ers.
cruising, he flashes back to the ``Greatest Show on Turf.'' Not the 2003 season when he lost his job, and not the day in June 2004 when he was released by a franchise that elected to go with Marc Bulger at quarterback.
``It's been a number of times this year when we've just been out there playing and offense has been clicking, and the first thing that comes to my mind is, 'This is what it felt like back in St. Louis,''' Warner said. ``So many special memories and it's so great to come back.
``I love the people and I love the organization and I appreciate what they did for me.''
Legions of Warner fans remain in St. Louis, some still bitter the Rams gave up on a player who went 26-4 in the dome, including four playoff games. He's 2-2 overall against the Rams and 1-0 on the road, beating them in 2005 and relieving injured Matt Leinart in a 34-31 victory last October.
``I love to play in that building,'' Warner said. ``So it's going to be fun, and I look forward to it every time.''
Yet, it's still football and there will be no love-in on the field when the Cardinals (4-3) bring a two-game NFC West lead against the revitalized Rams (2-5). St. Louis is 2-1 under new coach Jim Haslett after four blowout losses to open the season cost Scott Linehan his job.
triots in the Super Bowl. If he's able to overcome a hamstring injury that sidelined him for most of three quarters last week, he'll try run down Warner just like any other quarterback.
``You can't treat people like they're your friends on the football field,'' Little said. ``I would say if my mom was the quarterback, I would tackle her, too.''
Their defense, much improved since the coaching switch, had better be on its game. Warner leads the NFL's fifth-rated offense and the second-best passing offense. The team that left St. Louis for the desert in 1988 has had the Rams' number lately, too, winning three in a row overall plus three straight on the road.
Turning back the clock, Warner leads the NFL in completion percentage (70.2) and ranks second in completions (184), attempts (262) and yards passing (2,089). His 391 yards against the Panthers were 153 more than any other quarterback against Carolina this season, and he's thrown 35 touchdown passes in his last 15 games.
The Cardinals scored 30 or more points three times before squandering a 17-3 cushion in a 27-23 loss last week at Carolina. So, though he's 37, the Rams are preparing for vintage Warner.
``He's not taking sacks, he's on the money and obviously he's very accurate,'' coach Jim Haslett said. ``I think he's playing great.''
eve Breaston - all on pace for 1,000 yards. He's thrown a touchdown pass in 15 consecutive games, four games shy of the franchise record.
``I think I'm seeing the field, and I feel physically like I'm just as good as I was in those days, that I can still make all the throws,'' Warner said. ``I don't know if I'm playing better, but I feel like I'm playing as well as I did in some of those years.''
The fresh wave of Warner nostalgia couldn't come at a worse time for the man who replaced him. Bulger was grilled this week about the quarterback matchup, why he sometimes throws passes off his back foot, and what went wrong on the interception that ended the Rams' chances of beating the Patriots last week.
Responding to the footwork question, Bulger snapped, ``When my coach tells me I'm throwing off my back foot, I'll stop throwing the way I do. My mechanics haven't switched.''
He thought he was playing ``good enough, I think, to win,'' but noted the Rams have trailed a lot and have had to gamble. He took the high road rather than blame route mistakes by rookies that led to the late interception.
``I've been pleased with the way we haven't turned the ball over, and have kept ourselves in games,'' Bulger said.
Haslett is satisfied with Bulger's play, noting the Rams nearly beat the Patriots without Jackson last week.
``Can he do things better?'' Haslett said. ``Yeah, obviously. I think everybody on this team could do better.''