ST. LOUIS -- How's this for a switch: The St. Louis Rams might ride their defense to the Super Bowl.
When St. Louis won its first NFL title two years ago, it was behind the most potent offense the league had seen in years -- and a solid defense. When the Rams went out in the wild-card round of the 2000 playoffs, their sieve of a defense hastened their departure, even while the offense remained prolific.
Now, with the Green Bay Packers headed to St. Louis for Sunday's NFC divisional playoff, the Rams remain powerful with the ball. But, as they discovered the last time they got to the conference championship game, an 11-6 victory over Tampa Bay, somewhere along the line the defense must be staunch.
They believe it will be, capable of carrying them to another title even if the offense, led by NFL Most Valuable Player Kurt Warner and Offensive Player of the Year Marshall Faulk, sputters.
"We know we haven't gotten respect around the league and maybe we won't ever get the respect we feel like we deserve," middle linebacker London Fletcher said. "But come Sunday we'll be out there humming and show everybody what type of defense we definitely have."
When the Rams ranked first in offense in 1999, they also were sixth in defense. That team relied on more veterans than the present version, which has incorporated tackles Ryan Young and Damione Lewis and safety Adam Archuleta, all youngsters, with standbys Grant Wistrom, Fletcher and cornerback Aeneas Williams.
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