Faulk off to races

Tuesday, September 19th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

ST. LOUIS – Nothing ever seems to come easy for the St. Louis Rams when they play the longtime rival San Francisco 49ers.

Marshall Faulk ran for 134 yards and three touchdowns as the Rams beat the 49ers, 41-24, Sunday.

The score was tied, 17-17, at halftime, but the heavily favored Rams used Faulk's three second-half touchdown runs to put away the 49ers.

"This game kind of reminded me of how we used to play the 49ers," Rams wide receiver Isaac Bruce said. "We'd come out tough, and we just couldn't hang on."

The Rams (3-0) have beaten the 49ers (0-3) in three straight games for first time since winning nine consecutive games against them from 1976-80. The 49ers had beaten the Rams in 17 consecutive games before the streak ended last season.

The Rams piled up 529 yards of offense, giving them 1,518 yards in three games. They're on pace for 8,096 yards this season, which would smash the NFL record of 6,936 yards in season set by Miami in 1984. They're also on pace for 635 points, which would break the NFL record of 556 points set by Minnesota in 1998.

"If this is what it takes to win games, get used to it because we're going to do it," Faulk said of the Rams' offensive explosion. The 65,945 fans at the Trans World Dome saw the Rams set a franchise record with their 13th consecutive home victory.

The old record of 12 consecutive home wins was set in 1973-74 and tied in 1976-78.

Rams quarterback Kurt Warner completed 23 of 34 passes for 394 yards and two touchdowns.

Warner has thrown for an NFL record 1,221 yards in his three games this season, breaking former Miami quarterback Dan Marino's record of 1,214 yards during a three-game span in 1984.

Warner also had two interceptions, giving him six interceptions for the season. He didn't throw his sixth interception last season until the ninth game.

"If I throw an interception, I throw an interception," Warner said. "That's the great thing about the coaches and players here. They don't care. They know I'm going to come back and fight and move on. I'm going to continue to be aggressive, continue to attack people."

Bruce had eight catches for 188 yards and one touchdown. Torry Holt added four catches for 94 yards.

The 49ers had 401 yards of offense. Quarterback Jeff Garcia completed 21 of 34 passes for 290 yards and three touchdowns. Wide receiver Terrell Owens had six catches for 108 yards. Running back Charlie Garner had 15 carries for 87 yards.

"You're looking at a team that doesn't have any punks over there on offense," Rams cornerback Dexter McCleon said. "They have good skill people. We knew that Charlie Garner was going to be the best back we have seen all year, and they have some other big-play people, so you just try to contain them."

The strong offensive showing still didn't keep the 49ers from getting off to their worst start since going 0-7 under coach Bill Walsh in 1979. "We need to score more points," 49ers coach Steve Mariucci said. "When you go up against a high-powered Ram offense, that's what you simply have to do."

The Rams trailed, 7-0, just 31 seconds into the game despite receiving the opening kickoff. Warner was intercepted by linebacker Winfred Tubbs on the Rams' first play from scrimmage. Tubbs returned the ball to the St. Louis 27. Garcia threw a 27-yard touchdown pass to fullback Fred Beasley on the 49ers' first play from scrimmage.

The two teams traded field goals as Jeff Wilkins hit a 47-yarder for the Rams and Wade Richey hit a 21-yarder for the 49ers. The Rams tied the game at 10-10 on an 18-yard pass from Warner to Tony Horne. It was the first catch of Horne's career.

The 49ers regained the lead on a 20-yard touchdown pass from Garcia to Garner with 2:14 left in the first half.

The Rams struck back quickly as Warner threw a 78-yard bomb to Bruce to tie the score at 17. The reception was the second longest of Bruce's career. He had an 80-yard touchdown reception against the Minnesota Vikings in 1998.

The Rams had a chance to take control of the game as Dre' Bly intercepted a Garcia pass. Bly's 22-yard return, plus an unnecessary roughness penalty on J.J. Stokes at the end of the play, put the ball on the San Francisco 12.

But the Rams gave the ball right back to the 49ers as Warner was intercepted by safety John Keith in the end zone.

The Rams took the lead for good on a 1-yard touchdown run by Faulk in the third quarter.

The Rams extended their lead to 27-17 on a 25-yard field goal by Wilkins on the first play of the fourth quarter.

The 49ers got within 27-24 on a 12-yard touchdown pass from Garcia to Owens with 12:02 remaining. However, Faulk had touchdown runs of 4 and 1 yards in the final 71/2 minutes of the game.