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Rams' defense has Favre's number

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- More records fell at the hands of the St. Louis

But this time, rather than the speedy offense, it was the vastly
improved St. Louis defense setting NFL marks Sunday in a 45-17 rout
of the Green Bay Packers. The victory sent the Rams to the NFC
championship game against Philadelphia.

Just what the rest of the NFL needs, a St. Louis defense as
prolific as its offense.

All-Pro cornerback Aeneas Williams led the way by returning two
interceptions for touchdowns, an NFL playoff record.

"Because our offense is so outstanding, we as a defense can go
into the house, take out all the goods, break out and nobody even
knows we were there," Williams said. "Now they get to have the
same treat on offense, sit back and watch us play well and enjoy

The Rams (15-2) picked off six passes by Brett Favre, returning
three for scores; rookie Tommy Polley went 34 yards for his
touchdown and added another interception.

Kim Herring and Dexter McCleon also grabbed passes by Favre, who
tied the one-game playoff mark set by three others, although no one
had done it since 1955.

Question on the Packers: How do you explain Brett Favre's six interceptions?
People don't realize how talented and fast the Rams are on defense. I'm sure Favre went into the game thinking that he had to match the Rams touchdown for touchdown. But instead of creating opportunities for his Packers, Favre forced things too much. He knew Green Bay had to score a lot of points, and he tried to do too much (especially after he threw the first pick-six early). That's why he wound up with so many interceptions.

Question on the Rams: Did the Rams' defense want to make a point in today's game?
I don't think so. The Rams' offense gets so much publicity, but the defense has been strong all season, too. In this game, on a big stage, the defense really shined. And this time, the defense won the game, not the offense. The Rams' defense deserves the respect it gets and earned it again versus the Packers with this impressive performance.


"I could have thrown eight had we gotten the ball back," Favre
said after setting an ignominious career high in the worst playoff
loss in Packers history. "I was going to keep chucking."

That's what the Rams expected. They sort of counted on it.

"We knew because Brett is so confident he could get the ball in
there, we would get some chances," said Williams, who spent the
first 10 years of his NFL career with Arizona and played in all of
two postseason games. "A lot of defenders miss those torpedoes he
has thrown. We knew the key was to catch them when we had

Not surprisingly, the Rams did plenty of damage offensively in
advancing to the title game for the second time in three years.
Next Sunday, Philadelphia will need to be more protective of the
ball and much stauncher on defense than was Green Bay.

NFL MVP Kurt Warner didn't make any game-turning plays, leaving
that to the league's most improved defense.

But he had 4-yard TD passes to Torry Holt and James Hodgins in
the first half, and his perfect 50-yard pass to Holt after Williams
forced another turnover led to Marshall Faulk's 7-yard scoring run.
That made it 31-10 early in the third quarter, and the rout was on.

"It was awesome," Warner said of the defensive performance.
"It's a great luxury to know you don't have to force plays. We
could get off the field and let our defense play."

Williams stole the ball from Antonio Freeman 3:33 into the
second half. Four minutes later, Polley grabbed Grant Wistrom's
deflection and ran 34 yards for his score.

Polley got another interception in the fourth quarter after
Ahman Green tipped a pass directly to him. Green did the same thing
on Williams' second TD, a 32-yarder with 7:50 remaining.

"We come out every game and prove people wrong," Polley said
of the lack of recognition for the Rams' defense.

That defense made the first big play of day when Williams caught
Favre's pass toward the sideline -- receiver Bill Schroeder ran the
wrong route and was nowhere near the ball. Williams sped untouched
to the end zone with the first postseason score of his career.

Unfazed, Favre struck right back after an exchange of turnovers.
Green fumbled at the St. Louis 40, with rookie Adam Archuleta
recovering. Warner gave that back when he was intercepted by Darren

On almost the exact route on which he was picked off earlier by
Williams, Favre hit Freeman, who eluded McCleon and dived into the
end zone for a 22-yard score.

McCleon came back with a fourth-quarter interception.

Freeman's touchdown only enraged the Rams, who scored 14 points
in the first 2:24 of the second quarter.

Faulk's 38-yard run, including a brilliant move on former Rams
safety Billy Jenkins, led to the touchdown pass to Holt.

Then Favre tried to hit Freeman deep, Herring grabbed it and
made a weaving 45-yard return to the Green Bay 4. Two plays later,
fullback Hodgins, who had all of six touches during the season,
caught his TD pass for a 21-7 edge.

The Packers (13-5) hurt themselves even more when Torrance
Marshall was called for holding, negating Allen Rossum's 95-yard
kickoff return TD. Although they did get a 28-yard field goal by
Ryan Longwell, the Packers couldn't slow the St. Louis express.

A 27-yard completion to backup tight end Jeff Robinson -- Warner
made sure everyone was involved -- set up Jeff Wilkins' 27-yard
field goal for a 24-10 halftime edge.

Game notes
Favre has thrown touchdown passes in 12 straight playoff
games, one short of Dan Marino's record. ... The three interception
return TDs tied an NFL postseason record set in 1940 in Chicago's
73-0 victory over Washington. ... Freeman's five postseason TD
catches are a Packers record. ... Packers FB William Henderson
sprained his ankle in the first half. ... Holt sprained his left
wrist. Rams DT Jeff Zgonina hyperextended his elbow. ... Longtime
Cardinals shortstop Ozzie Smith, recently elected to the Baseball
Hall of Fame, helped conduct the coin toss. He didn't help the
Rams, as Green Bay won the toss. ... Warner finished 18-for-30 for
216 yards; Favre 26-for-44 for 281.

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