Check: Patriots-Rams Box Score
By Howard Ulman, AP Sports Writer
FOXBORO (AP) ― Short-handed but sure-handed, the New England Patriots got by the St. Louis Rams on a fingertip touchdown catch by Kevin Faulk.
The Patriots' best pass-catching running back hung onto Matt Cassel's 15-yard pass on the left edge of the end zone with 3:19 remaining as the Patriots rallied for a 23-16 win Sunday.
Another timely grab -- a juggling interception by Deltha O'Neal with 1:08 left -- ended the Rams' last threat.
Faulk had shouldered a bigger running load than usual with Laurence Maroney sidelined for the season and the top two backups in the ground game, Sammy Morris and LaMont Jordan, out with injuries. But Faulk did what he does best -- catching the ball-- just in time as the Patriots (5-2) won their second straight game.
Until then, St. Louis' Josh Brown and New England's Stephen Gostkowski each kicked three field goals. BenJarvus Green-Ellis' 2-yard run on the Patriots first possession had given them a 7-3 lead. Then the Rams went ahead 10-7 on a 69-yard pass play from Marc Bulger to Donnie Avery.
It was the longest pass play of Bulger's career, 2 yards more than his hookup with Torry Holt on Oct. 15, 2006, against Seattle.
But the Rams (2-5) couldn't overcome the absence of Steven Jackson, their leading rusher and receiver who missed the game with a strained right thigh muscle. And defensive end Leonard Little left in the first half with a hamstring injury.
They lost for the first time since Jim Haslett replaced Scott Linehan, who was fired with an 0-4 record.
Faulk led the Patriots with 60 yards on 13 carries and added four receptions for 47 yards. Cassel was 21-for-33 for a career-high 267 yards as the replacement for Tom Brady.
The winning drive began at the Patriots 47 after a punt. Cassel was sacked for an 8-yard loss by rookie Chris Long on the first play. But then he connected with Randy Moss for gains of 23 and 3 yards before a 7-yard run by Faulk gave the Patriots a first down at the Rams 28.
Cassel threw an 8-yard completion to Moss and Faulk ran 5 yards before Cassel lofted the winning throw into Faulk's hands.
St. Louis also had some big catches. Donnie Avery caught a 69-yard touchdown pass and set up two field goals with long receptions. Holt's 11-yard catch set up another field goal.
The Rams took a 3-0 lead on Brown's 20-yard field goal on their first series before Green-Ellis' touchdown. Gostkowski kicked field goals of 30 and 27 yards in the last 1:49 of the half to give the Patriots a 13-10 lead.
Brown tied the game with a 44-yard field goal then put the Rams ahead with a 25-yard kick early in the fourth quarter. Gostkowski answered with a 41-yard field goal, tying the game at 16 with 8:22 left.