After 21 years away, the Rams are moving back to Los Angeles, the city they called home for nearly 50 years of the franchise’s 78-year history.
With a 142–193 record since 1995, the woeful Rams have no shortage of unpleasant memories from their stay in St. Louis. But the Rams have also had extraordinary, if limited, success at times. Here’s a look back at some of their most memorable moments over two decades in the Midwest.
“The Tackle” seals Super Bowl title
In St. Louis, the Rams made the postseason five times and advanced to the Super Bowl twice. But their first playoff appearance as St. Louis’ NFL team was the sweetest: After a 13–3 regular season in 1999, the Rams won Super Bowl XXXIV.
How the Rams won their only championship in franchise history was particularly memorable. The 1999 team was known for its offense, but defense clinched a title. “The Tackle,” which has been touted by ESPN as the second-greatest moment in Super Bowl history, was the play that sealed their victory.
With six seconds left and the Rams leading 23–16, Tennessee Titans quarterback Steve McNair delivered a pass into the hands of receiver Kevin Dyson at the three-yard line. Linebacker Mike Jones flung himself at Dyson as he scrambled toward the end zone, pulling him to the ground one yard short as time expired to give St. Louis a championship.
2001: Back to the Super Bowl
After going 10–6 and losing to the New Orleans Saints in the wild-card round in 2000, the St. Louis Rams turned in their most impressive regular-season campaign in franchise history in 2001. They went 14–2 and remained undefeated through Week 6. Though they fell in the Super Bowl to the New England Patriots, a heavy underdog, the Rams’ 2001 regular season remains one of the best in NFL history.
The 2001 season also marked the conclusion of the Rams’ glory days before they declined into mediocrity. Since 2001, the team has finished with a winning record just once, in 2003 (12–4).
The Greatest Show on Turf
The Rams’ success between 1999 and 2001 would not have been possible without the production of their record-breaking offense. The team went 4–12 in 1998, but when quarterback Kurt Warner, running back Marshall Faulk and receivers Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt joined forces with offensive coordinator Mike Martz in 1999, the result was one of the NFL’s greatest offenses of all-time. The Rams offense was ranked No. 1 for three consecutive seasons, and they became the NFL’s only team to score more than 500 points in three straight years.
Warner led the league in completion percentage those three years, throwing for 12,612 yards and 98 touchdowns during that period. His elite performance led to his winning NFL MVP in ’99 and ’01. In 2000, he was unseated as MVP by teammate Faulk, who had finished second the years Warner won.
Trading for Marshall Faulk
After finishing the 1998 season 3–13, the Indianapolis Colts traded running back Marshall Faulk to the Rams for the fourth pick of that year’s draft. Faulk went on to have the best seasons of his 12-year NFL career in St. Louis. Between ’99 and ’01, Faulk rushed for 4,122 yards with 37 touchdowns and earned first–team All–Pro honors each year. His number 28 jersey was retired by the Rams, and he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2011.
With the fourth pick, the Colts selected four-time Pro Bowler and Hall of Fame finalist Edgerrin James.
“The Catch,” Rams edition
Only one play from the Rams’ 1999 season can rival “The Tackle” in franchise lore. With the Rams down 6–5 with four minutes remaining in the NFC championship game against the Buccaneers, veteran Ricky Proehl made the catch of his life. From 30 yards out, Kurt Warner launched a soaring pass toward the endzone. Leaping into the air, Proehl reached over his shoulder to haul in his first touchdown catch of the year and send St. Louis to the Super Bowl.
Steven Jackson makes Rams history
On Oct. 24, 2010, running back Steven Jackson became the Rams’ all-time rushing leader with a 110-yard performance in an 18–17 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Jackson paced Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson’s record of 7,245 yards in that game, and his career total with the Rams stands at 10,138.
Drafting Michael Sam
Even though Michael Sam never took the field in a regular season game, the first openly gay player to be drafted in the NFL will always be associated with St. Louis. The Rams selected the Missouri defensive end, who was named 2013 SEC defensive player of the year, in the seventh round of the 2014 draft. Sam won the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage at the 2014 ESPYs, and he thanked the Rams for making their historic selection in his acceptance speech.