ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Mike McMahon made a lot of bad plays. He also
made the winning play.
The Philadelphia Eagles' backup threw three interceptions but
also tossed the game-winning touchdown pass to long snapper Mike
Bartrum on the first play of the fourth quarter in a lackluster
17-16 victory over the St. Louis Rams on Sunday.
On a rare day when neither quarterback threw for 100 yards,
McMahon did the bare minimum to win.
"I had some highs and lows," McMahon said. "You're going to
have that in some games. Luckily, our defense stepped up and made
some big plays and gave us some short fields."
The game matched two of the NFC's biggest disappointments, and
lived up to that billing with mistakes aplenty. Together, the teams
were penalized 28 times for 230 yards, divided pretty much equally.
"It wasn't the prettiest thing, obviously," Eagles coach Andy
Reid said. "We do need to get better."
The Eagles (6-8) won for the second time in eight games and sent
the Rams (5-9) to their fifth loss in six games.
"When you keep shooting yourself in the foot, which is the same
old story, the same old broken record, you don't have a chance,"
interim coach Joe Vitt said. "It's a shame, it really is."
The most electrifying play came early, a 59-yard touchdown
sprint by Ryan Moats, who squirted through a pileup at the line and
broke three tackles for the Eagles' first score. Bartrum made the
decisive play when he caught a 3-yard touchdown pass after McMahon
rolled out. He has two catches all season, both for 3-yard scores.
McMahon said Bartrum was the "third or fourth" option on the
play. He also said he's never thrown a ball to him in practice.
"If there wasn't anything else there I was going to throw it
out of the back of the end zone," McMahon said. "As I kept moving
he just kind of stopped right in the hole."
Brian Dawkins' interception and 24-yard return to the 28 set up
the winning score.
"He was very confused out there, and it helped us out in the
secondary," Groce said. "He didn't really know what was going
Still, McMahon did enough to trump Rams rookie Ryan Fitzpatrick,
who was 10-for-24 for 69 yards with one touchdown and an
Fitzpatrick, who threw three touchdown passes in his NFL debut
after subbing for an injured Jamie Martin Nov. 27 at Houston, threw
for his first score in three starts. But he was so ineffective the
35-year-old Martin replaced him with 6:40 remaining.
Starting quarterback Marc Bulger, who missed his fourth straight
game with a shoulder injury, delivered the news to Fitzpatrick.
"Today was a tough game," Fitzpatrick said. "That's just the
move they had to make. They felt like they needed a spark, and it's
Steven Jackson reached 1,000 yards for the first time for the
Rams and Marshall Faulk had his best game of the year in a reserve
role, running for 87 yards on 16 carries to move past Marcus Allen
for ninth place on the all-time rushing list. He now has 12,249
yards, topping Allen's mark of 12,243.
But Faulk, who got more playing time because of Jackson's minor
hip pointer, was thrown for a 2-yard loss on his biggest carry, a
fourth-and-1 at the Eagles 36 with 3:14 to go.
The Rams capitalized on a lost fumble by Lamar Gordon to take a
16-7 lead on Jeff Wilkins' third field goal of the game, a
28-yarder. The Eagles made it a one-score game again with David
Akers' 31-yard field goal.
Jackson had 62 yards on seven carries on the Rams' opening
drive, setting up a 26-yard field goal by Wilkins. Moats got almost
as many yards on one attempt, squirting free at the line and
breaking three tackles for his big run to put the Eagles ahead.
Pisa Tinoisamoa's interception of an underthrown pass by McMahon
and 20-yard return to the 5 led to the Rams' go-ahead score. On the
next play, Fitzpatrick hit Torry Holt on a 5-yard score for his
first touchdown pass in three weeks.
Wilkins added a 53-yard field goal, his longest of the season,
to put the Rams ahead 13-7 at the half.
Holt has 53 touchdowns with the Rams, tied with Elroy
Hirsch for second on the franchise list. ... Wilkins has 101
points, his fifth 100-point season. ... The Rams were whistled for
eight false starts, three on rookie guard Claude Terrell. ...
Faulk's previous season best was 50 yards on six carries against
the Titans in Week 3. He had 87 yards on 16 attempts after entering
the game with 175 yards on 35 carries for the year.