Wed, Dec 10, 2003 - Page 19 News List

Rams' interceptions spur team

AMERICAN FOOTBALL Aeneas Williams picked off a pair of passes as the clock ran down in the first half, running one of them back for TD to create a big lead

REUTERS , CLEVELAND, OHIO

Marshall Faulk, center, of the Rams runs against the Browns in Cleveland Browns Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio, Monday.

PHOTO: AFP

Two interceptions from Aeneas Williams sparked St. Louis to a 26-20 win over the Cleveland Browns on Monday which secured a playoff berth for the Rams.

The cornerback's two big defensive plays came as the clock ran down in the first half. The first he returned 46 yards for a touchdown, while the second pick just 24 seconds later set up a score for Issac Bruce to put the Rams 23-7 ahead at halftime.

The Browns (4-9) battled back in the second half under backup quarterback Tim Couch, who passed for two touchdowns, but the surging Rams (10-3) held on for their ninth win in their last 10 games.

The Rams potent offense has become used to taking the plaudits, but on Monday night it was their defence -- and in particular Williams -- who came up with the big plays.

The Rams held a narrow 9-7 lead a minute and four seconds from the half when the 13-year NFL veteran stepped in front of a Kelly Holcomb pass and raced back for a touchdown.

He picked off Holcomb again on the Browns' next series, the Rams adding a second touchdown two plays later when quarterback Marc Bulger hooked up with Bruce from 16 yards.

Jeff Wilkins added four field goals for St. Louis, the second of the four a club-record 31st of the season. He now shares the NFL lead with Indianapolis Colts' kicker Mike Vanderjagt, who was a perfect 5-of-5 on Sunday.

It was Wilkins who put the Rams on the board with a 28-yard field goal seven minutes into the game. The Browns drove 70 yards on their next possession before Holcomb found Keith Heinrich from two yards out for the go-ahead touchdown.

But the Rams then capitalized on the first Cleveland turnover, with Wilkins unerring with a 26-yard field goal before adding another soon after the two-minute warning.

Then came Williams's contribution which effectively ended the night for Holcomb.

Couch stepped up and early in the third quarter found Quincy Morgan from 28 yards to bring Cleveland closer at 23-13.

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