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St. Louis Rams

  Untitled Document




St. Louis Rams, professional football team and one of five teams in the Western Division of the National Football Conference (NFC) of the National Football League (NFL). Formerly based in Cleveland, Ohio, and Los Angeles, California, the Rams now play in the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, Missouri, and wear uniforms of royal blue, gold, and white. The Rams built powerful squads during the 1940s and 1950s, winning an NFL championship and six Western Division titles. Starring during the era were wide receiver Tom Fears and quarterback-punter Norm Van Brocklin, both eventual Hall of Fame members. The Rams were one of the NFC’s most consistent teams during the 1970s and 1980s, reaching the playoffs 14 times from 1973 to 1989 and capturing a league-record seven consecutive division titles from 1973 to 1979. Led by quarterback Kurt Warner, the Rams won the franchise’s first Super Bowl in 2000, defeating the Tennessee Titans. St. Louis returned to the title game two years later but lost to the New England Patriots on a last-second field goal. The Cleveland Rams were founded in 1936 as a member of the American Football League (a different league than the AFL that later merged with the NFL). A year later the team joined the NFL. The Rams moved frequently, playing in three different stadiums over several losing seasons. In 1945 a remarkable turnaround occurred as rookie quarterback Bob Waterfield led the Rams to a 9-1 win-loss record and a 15-14 victory over the Washington Redskins in the NFL Championship Game. Despite the Rams’ successful season, the franchise remained unprofitable. Following the season the team moved to Los Angeles. From 1949 to 1951 Waterfield and fellow quarterback Norm Van Brocklin guided the Rams to three consecutive Western Division championships. Los Angeles won the NFL crown in 1951, defeating the Cleveland Browns 24-17 in the championship game.

The winning play was a 73-yard pass from Van Brocklin to Tom Fears. Wide receiver Elroy “Crazy Legs” Hirsch led the league that season with 1,495 yards, and he also scored 17 touchdowns. The Rams’ next conference title, in 1955, was their last playoff appearance until 1967. Former Chicago Bears assistant George Allen was named head coach in 1966. He steered Los Angeles to Western Division titles in 1967 and 1969 with lineups featuring quarterback Roman Gabriel, wide receiver Jack Snow, and defensive linemen Deacon Jones and Merlin Olsen. Allen earned top coaching honors in 1967, and two years later Gabriel was named player of the year. The Rams’ dominance in the Western Division continued under Chuck Knox, who became the team’s head coach in 1973. Knox led the Rams to five consecutive division crowns, recording a 54-15-1 regular-season win-loss-tie record from 1973 to 1977.


His many stars included quarterback Pat Haden, offensive guard Tom Mack, running back Lawrence McCutcheon, linebacker Jack “Hacksaw” Reynolds, and defensive end Jack Youngblood, who was named the league’s top defensive player in 1975. Ray Malavasi became the Rams’ head coach in 1978. A former defensive coordinator for the Rams, Malavasi extended the team’s streak of division titles in 1978 and 1979, for a total of seven straight.

The Rams, however, lost the NFC Championship Game to the Dallas Cowboys following the 1978 season and Super Bowl XIV to the Pittsburgh Steelers following the 1979 season. Superstar running back Eric Dickerson powered Los Angeles to four consecutive playoff appearances from 1983 to 1986. In 1983 he broke the NFL rookie rushing record with a league-best 1,808 yards. The record had been held by Earl Campbell of the Houston Oilers (now Tennessee Titans), who amassed 1,450 yards in 1978. Head coach John Robinson was named NFC coach of the year in 1983. The next year Dickerson was named player of the year, and he won his second rushing title with 2,105 yards. He won a third rushing title in 1986 with 1,821 yards. In 1988 the passing combination of quarterback Jim Everett and wide receiver Henry Ellard led the Rams to a wild card playoff berth. Both players led their respective positions in yardage that year. Los Angeles reached the NFC Championship Game in 1989 but lost to the San Francisco 49ers, 30-3. Knox returned as head coach in 1992 and posted a 15-33 record over three seasons. Running back Jerome Bettis was named the league’s top rookie in 1993. With dwindling fan support in Los Angeles, the Rams moved to St. Louis following the 1994 season. There, wide receiver Isaac Bruce amassed 1,781 receiving yards in 1995, the second-highest total in NFL history. In 1999 the Rams posted a 13-3 record and won their division. Quarterback Kurt Warner, who threw for 41 touchdowns, was named the NFL player of the year. In the Super Bowl, held in January after the end of the regular season, the Rams defeated the Tennessee Titans, 23-16. After losing in the first round of the playoffs the next season, the Rams went 14-2 in 2001 and returned to the Super Bowl, where they lost to the New England Patriots. Warner won his second player of the year award.

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