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Niners force OT with late score

9/15/2003

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Marc Bulger kept the St. Louis Rams'
quarterback controversy alive.

Kurt Warner's backup shook off two first-half turnovers,
throwing for two touchdowns and keeping his cool on the final drive
of a 27-24 overtime win over the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday.
Jeff Wilkins kicked a 28-yard field goal with 13 minutes left in
the extra period.

Question on the 49ers: Do you like their RB by committee or is one guy more deserving of the most carries?

Garrison Hearst deserves to get the majority of the carries. He's elusive and is capable of breaking some big runs. Also, this offense isn't good for a two-back system because it doesn't allow them to get into a rhythm.

Question on the Rams: Is there any way Martz goes back to Warner next week?
I don't think he can put Warner back in while Marc Bulger is getting this team wins. He has a responsibility to the other 52 guys on this team.

Eric Allen played cornerback for 14 NFL seasons with the Eagles, Saints and Raiders.

Coach Mike Martz wouldn't say whether Bulger or Warner, who had
a concussion in the opener, would be the starter next week at
Seattle.

"This is a time to celebrate a win and feel good," Martz said.
"We'll deal with that on Monday."

Martz couldn't hold back on praise for Bulger, 25-for-36 for 236
yards and two touchdowns -- including 15-for-17 for 155 yards after
halftime. Bulger was 6-1 as the Rams' starter last year while
Warner was 0-6.

"That, ladies and gentlemen, is a big league quarterback,"
Martz said.

Warner, who relayed the plays from the sideline, also got caught
up in the excitement.

"When your teammates are out there battling and you win a game
like this, you can't help but enjoy every minute," Warner said.
"Do I wish I was out there? Sure, I do."

Bulger wasn't sure what this game meant for his future, and said
it wasn't any kind of statement game.

"I didn't state anything, I'm just happy we won," Bulger said.
"That's up to coach Martz -- he's the head coach."

The Rams (1-1) have won eight of nine against the 49ers (1-1),
the defending NFC West champions.

The 49ers didn't go quietly, forcing the extra period on Terrell
Owens' 13-yard touchdown catch from Jeff Garcia with 19 seconds
left. The score capped an 85-yard, 11-play march and came from a
pair of players who sustained mild concussions in the first half.

"If the doctor says he can go back in, he can go back in,"
coach Dennis Erickson said of Garcia.

San Francisco got one last chance to win it when Arnaz Battle
recovered Jeff Chandler's onside kick at midfield with 13 seconds
to go. The 49ers still had one timeout, but they ran out of time on
Garcia's 29-yard pass to Cedrick Wilson to the St. Louis 26.

The Rams' defense hemmed Wilson in so the clock would run out on
a play that started with 9 seconds to go, enough that the 49ers
felt they'd have time for a field goal attempt.

"It's something you hope comes down to common sense," Garcia
said. "Obviously, everybody knew the situation at that point."

Rams rookie return man Arlen Harris also muffed a punt return at
the St. Louis 11 that led to the 49ers' first touchdown. Harris
atoned with a 46-yard return on the overtime kickoff to the Rams
48.

A 15-yard facemask penalty on 49ers linebacker Jeff Ulbrich gave
the Rams the ball at the 49ers 36. Bulger and Marshall Faulk did
the rest, hooking up on a 22-yard screen pass to the 10.

Wilkins ended it on the next play.

Bulger, who got the start after Warner sustained a concussion
last week, lost two fumbles in the first half, giving Rams
quarterbacks a total of eight the first two games, but played a
solid second half as St. Louis emphasized more running.

Bulger threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Torry Holt in the
first quarter and had a 19-yarder to Dane Looker in the fourth, a
play that gave the Rams a 21-17 lead.

Garcia and Owens both missed time in the first half after taking
hard hits, but both returned to action in the second quarter.
Garcia was 19-for-35 for 222 yards with an interception, and Owens
caught five passes for 42 yards.

The Rams took their first lead at 14-10 midway through the third
quarter on Faulk's 2-yard run.

The 49ers regained the lead on their next drive, capitalizing
after Travis Fisher dropped a sure interception at the San
Francisco 30. Kevan Barlow had a 3-yard gain on fourth-and-1, then
scored on a 19-yard run two plays later.

The 49ers held the Rams to 67 yards, breaking down the
protection with frequent blitzing, and taking advantage of three
fumble recoveries for a 10-7 halftime lead. The Rams lost two
fumbles deep in their territory and blew a scoring opportunity when
Bulger was stripped on a sack at the 49ers 11.

That turnover set up Garcia's 16-yard TD pass to Tai Streets.

Bulger hit Holt with an 11-yard score in the first quarter and
Chandler's 35-yard field goal put the 49ers ahead in the second
quarter.

Game notes
Faulk had 90 yards rushing and receiving, passing Thurman
Thomas for 10th place on the career list with 16,560 yards. ... The
49ers were whistled for 121 yards in penalties. ... Chandler,
5-for-5 on field goals last week, missed a 43-yarder in the second
quarter. ... Harris averaged 30 yards on four kickoff returns.