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Rams Fly High Over Browns


The surprise juggernaut claimed another victim.

The St. Louis Rams, who entered this season as the NFL's losingest team in the 1990s, remained the only unbeaten team this year with a 34-3 victory over the winless Cleveland Browns on Sunday.

"We're No. 6," Browns coach Chris Palmer said. "They've done the same thing to everybody they've played, whether it be the 49ers, or the Falcons, or whoever they played."

Kurt Warner threw three touchdown passes, two to Roland Willliams. Marshall Faulk, after spending the previous night in a hospital with what he termed a "mixture of food poisoning and flu-like symptoms," had 133 yards rushing on 16 carries, with a 33-yard touchdown.

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Game Summary

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  • "I don't want to bad-mouth any restaurant or anything like that," Faulk said. "I was going to try to play regardless of how I felt."

    The expansion Browns, 19-point underdogs, were more fodder for a team that has made a remarkable transformation after entering the year 45-99 for the decade. The Rams (6-0) led 14-0 before the Browns (0-7) had run an offensive play and it was 21-3 and game over at halftime.

    Browns rookie wide receiver Kevin Johnson had brashly predicted a victory. In particular, he was treated roughly.

    "Our secondary got together during the introductions and they were going to give this guy the business," defensive tackle D'Marco Farr said. "Somebody was talking to him as soon as he got up and all the way back to the huddle."

    Johnson also was taunted by some fans as he left the field, and his post-game comments were muted.

    "I just said what I thought," Johnson said. "Hats off to those guys."

    Warner, so lghtly regarded before Trent Green's season-ending knee injury in August that the Browns had a shot at him in the expansion draft, hiked his league-leading touchdown pass total to 18. He was 23-for-29 for 203 yards and leads the NFL with an unreal 131.5 quarterback rating.

    "I'm not worrying about other people's expectations for me, I'm more worried about what I expect of myself," Warner said. "When there's an opportunity to make a play, I expect myself to make it. I get mad about the ones I don't complete."

    Williams, the starter at tight end while Ernie Conwell recovers from reconstructive knee surgery, had a pair of 1-yard scores and has three touchdowns. He had his best game receiving with five catches for 50 yards and had his first two-catch game ever, including high school.

    "We kind of hounded him about being just a blocking tight end," wide receiver Isaac Bruce said. "So he proved to us that he could catch the ball."

    Faulk set up both of Williams' scores with receiving gains of 13 yards and 15 yards, each time to the Browns 1. Then Faulk went to the locker room for IV fluids before halftime. In the third quarter, he eluded several would-be tacklers on his 33-yard run. He also had 67 yards on nine catches.

    The Rams began the game with an 11-play, 75-yard drive capped by Williams' first touchdown. Ronnie Powell fumbled the ensuing kickoff at the Browns 29, and the Rams needed only four plays to score again, on a 4-yard pass from Warner to Isaac Bruce.

    Williams' second 1-yard catch made it 21-3 in the second quarter. That was more than enough for a defense that has allowed one touchdown the last two weeks.

    Everything went right for the Rams, who caught a break on an interception by Todd Lyght in the end zone. Dexter McCleon was whistled for pass interference, but the call was waved off because the ball was tipped by Farr.

    Browns highlights were a 40-yard run by Tim Couch to the Rams 3 as time expired at the half the longest run by a quarterback in franchise history and the punting of Chris Gardocki, who averaged 49 yards on five boots.

    A plus for Couch, who was 22-for-40 for 185 yards and two interceptions, was getting some protection for a change with only one sack and rare pressure from the Rams. He's been sacke 24 times overall, including.

    "They're a great team," Couch said of the Rams. "I can see why they're undefeated."

    The last time the Rams were 6-0 was 1985, when they opened 7-0 and won the NFC West at 11-5. They've won five in a row at home, their best since 1988-89, and are 3-0 against the AFC Central.

    Notes

  • Rams running back Robert Holcombe strained his right hamstring in the first quarter.
  • The Browns lost linebackers Jamir Miller (strained left shoulder) and Rahim Abdullah (strained left hip) in the second quarter.
  • The Browns offense has scored only five touchdowns.
  • Bruce had four catches to move one ahead of Elroy "Crazy Legs" Hirsch for third on the team's career reception list. He has 344 in six seasons.
  • Rams kicker Jeff Wilkins is 7-for-7 on field goals, including two Sunday.
  • The Rams played without both return men. Tony Horne is serving a four-game drug suspension and Az-zahir Hakim injured his groin on Friday.

    ©1999 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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