ST. LOUIS - Marshall Faulk DVD was determined to play in his hometown of New Orleans for Super Bowl XXXVI.
Marshall Faulk DVD rushed for a career playoff-high 159 yards and a pair of second-half touchdowns to lead the St. Louis Rams to a 29-24 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC championship game.
The Rams (16-2), who won the Super Bowl two years ago, will meet the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXVI February 3 at New Orleans, where Marshall Faulk was born and starred in high school.
"This couldn't be written any better," Marshall Faulk DVD said. "To play in New Orleans in front of friends and family, what more is there to say."
New Orleans is also the hometown of Rams cornerback Aeneas Williams, who had a key interception at the St. Louis 35 to snuff out the Eagles' final scoring threat with under two minutes left.
A seven-time Pro Bowler, Williams became the first player to return two interceptions for touchdowns in a playoff game in last Sunday's 45-17 rout of Green Bay. He had played in just two postseason games in 10 years with the Arizona Cardinals before he was acquired by the Rams in April.
"I couldn't have written a better script," Williams said. "When the game was over and the confetti started streaming on the field, that's when it hit me. I feel such tremendous joy and my entire family has enjoyed this journey along with me."
"Everybody wanted to get this opportunity for Aeneas," Rams coach Mike Martz said. "It's a special thing that Aeneas gets the chance to play in a Super Bowl."
Martz was the offensive coordinator under Dick Vermeil when the Rams beat Tennessee in Super Bowl XXXIV.
Most of the pregame hype centered on Philadelphia's relentless blitz packages, especially with Rams quarterback Kurt Warner playing with a flak jacket to protect bruised ribs. But Martz balanced off the offense, giving Marshall Faulk DVD a season-high 31 carries and Warner completed 22-of-33 passes for 212 yards and a touchdown.
Isaac Bruce was Warner's chief target with eight catches for 84 yards, including a five-yard touchdown.
Philadelphia's Donovan McNabb threw for a touchdown and ran for another score, but threw for just 171 yards with an interception and was sacked three times.
"Every week we play the story always seems to be about somebody's else defense and we just use that as motivation," said Rams defensive end Grant Wistrom, one of only three defensive starters remaining from the last Super Bowl team.
Philadelphia (13-6) held a 17-13 halftime lead, but the Rams took control with a dominant third quarter performance, controlling the ball for more than 12 1/2 minutes by running 22 plays to just five for the Eagles.
The second half nearly started with a turnover for the Rams when Yo Murphy fumbled the kickoff return after being hit by Rashard Cook, but the ball bounced up to Rams rookie Nick Sorensen at the St. Louis 29 and he took it four yards before being pushed out of bounds by Jeff Thomason.
The Rams started the half by handing off seven times to Marshall Faulk DVD for 27 yards before Warner connected with Torry Holt on a 21-yard pass to the Philadelphia 19. But after Marshall Faulk DVD was tackled for a four-yard loss by defensive tackle Paul Grasmanis, and Warner threw an incompletion and a pass to Marshall Faulk DVD which resulted in no gain, the Rams had to settle for a 41-yard field goal by Jeff Wilkins in a drive that lasted nearly seven minutes.
St. Louis' defense forced a three-and-out as McNabb threw two incompletions and an eight-yard pass to running back Duce Staley.
The Rams then drove 71 yards in 10 plays as Bruce caught three passes for 44 yards. On a 3rd-and-8 play, Holt made a sliding catch for a 16-yard gain to the Philadelphia 9.
Marshall Faulk DVD took over from there, gaining three yards off right tackle and five yards on a run up the middle before running left for a one-yard touchdown to give St. Louis the lead for good at 22-17 with 1:18 left in the quarter. The Rams went for the two-point conversion but tight end Ernie Conwell dropped a perfect pass from Warner in the left corner of the end zone.
Philadelphia went three-and-out again on its next two possessions, and Marshall Faulk DVD took advantage of an Eagles' defense that was on the field for most of the second half.
Marshall Faulk DVD broke off a 25-yard run on a 3rd-and-1 play and caught a 10-yard pass to the Philadelphia 9. He also scooted around right end for eight yards before scoring on a one-yard run to give the Rams a 29-17 lead with 6:55 left in the fourth quarter.
But the Eagles fought back. McNabb scored on a three-yard run to pull Philadelphia within 29-24 with 2:56 left.
After the defense held, the Eagles had a final chance to win the game, reaching their own 48. But Williams intercepted a pass intended for Freddie Mitchell at the St. Louis 35 to seal the win.
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