Few offenses in NFL history was as dangerous as the “Greatest Show on Turf” (GSOT). It had the capability to score in a blink of an eye, and plenty of playmakers to threaten defenses. Looking back on October 1, 2000, it was Week 5 when the St. Louis Rams hosted the San Diego Chargers to demonstrate their offensive power. The Rams had won Super Bowl XXXIV the previous season, and they were off to a great 4-0 start.
It was a totally different story for the Chargers. The Chargers began the season 0-4, and were now visiting the Trans World Dome to face the Super Bowl defending champions. Head coach Mike Martz and the rest of the Rams came in with a game plan to decimate the Chargers with an aerial assault.
The Rams struck first with a Jeff Wilkins field goal, and they followed in what could be best described as target practice for quarterback Kurt Warner. He began with a nine-yard touchdown pass to receiver Isaac Bruce but quickly followed that up with a 13-yard touchdown pass to Hall of Fame running back Marshall Faulk in just a little over a minute. Chargers’ quarterback Jim Harbaugh had this to say in a postgame interview with ESPN, “I’ve never seen anything like that; they score so fast their defense is right back on the field.” At the end of the first quarter, the Rams had a 17-3 lead over the Chargers, but the scoring frenzy was far from over.
The Chargers wanted to at least make the game competitive, which they did after running back Jermaine Fazande muscled his way for a two-yard touchdown run. For most of the second quarter the Chargers contained the Rams offense enough to keep the score 20-10, but it came to an end when Warner found another key member of the GSOT era in Torry Holt for a 7-yard touchdown pass. Another quick Wilkins field goal with four seconds left in the first half and the Rams are dominating 30-10.
If you are thinking the Rams could sit back and relax, think again. The Chargers were determined to make this a close contest, and drove the ball down field until Harbaugh hit fullback Fred McCrary with a three-yard touchdown pass to make the score 30-17 early in the third quarter. This of course only encouraged the high-flying Rams offense to score even more points. Warner found Bruce for a 12-yard touchdown pass and Wilkins kicked a 33-yard field goal the following drive. Backup quarterback Trent Green came in the game to replace Warner late in the third quarter and fed the ball to Faulk for a 48-yard touchdown to make the score 47-17.
Right after Chargers’ running back Terrell Fletcher scored on a six-yard run to make the score 50-24, the Rams countered with a 12-yard rushing touchdown by running back Justin Watson. But the Chargers scored the last points of the game on a 62-yard missile from Harbaugh to receiver Trevor Gaylor. The Rams won 57-31.
Warner finished the game with a perfect quarterback rating of 158.3 and also had 390 yards passing and four touchdowns. Most would be proud and ecstatic of that achievement, yet he had this to say during his postgame interview. “No, we got a few field goals in there, we’ve got a little more than that in us.” Warner strove for perfection, which is why he is being considered to be placed in the Hall of Fame.
Of course, it wasn’t just Warner that had an excellent game. Faulk rushed for only 55 yards rushing on seven attempts, but he also had six receptions for 116 yards and two touchdowns. Bruce and receiver Az-Zahir Hakim broke the 100-yard barrier and combined for a total of 271 yards and two touchdowns.
The Rams finished the season first in the NFC West with a 10-6 record. They advanced to the playoffs which they lost in the first round to the New Orleans Saints, 31-28.
It’s most likely not going to be that easy for the Rams when they play against the Chargers for the 11th time this Sunday, but both teams are gunning for a playoff spot. Currently the Rams lead the series, 6-4.