DETROIT (Aug. 29, 2005) -- Marc Bulger made accurate passes, receivers made catches in open space and Steven Jackson ran over and around defenders.
The St. Louis Rams resembled the team that won the Super Bowl five years ago, and the Detroit Lions looked like the NFL's worst franchise since 2001.
Bulger accounted for two touchdowns, Isaac Bruce had 85 yards receiving and a score and Jackson ran for 108 yards and a TD to lead St. Louis to a 37-13 exhibition victory over Detroit.
"We treated this like a regular-season game," Bulger said. "Whether they did or not, who knows?"
The Lions took the game seriously, but seemed to have many of the same problems they've had.
"There are no excuses for a game like this," Detroit coach Steve Mariucci said. "I thought we were very fired up and ready to go, but it just didn't happen on the field.
The game was similar to the last one featuring the Lions on national television in prime time, a 35-0 setback against St. Louis on Oct. 8, 2001.
"It is tough to swallow a game like this, when we had a showcase to show how good we are," said tight end Marcus Pollard, one of Detroit's additions in the offseason.
Detroit has lost an NFL-high 48 games the past four years, while the Rams have been a playoff-caliber team since winning a title.
With crisp passing and Jackson's running, the Rams (2-1) led 21-6 at halftime, a score Mariucci said would be important entering the game.
The Rams were so dominant on an 11-play, 90-yard drive in the first quarter they didn't have a third down.
Bulger was 11-of-14 for 167 yards, threw a TD pass and ran for a 7-yard score, untouched on a sneak. Jackson ran for 64 yards on his first of 14 carries, and scored on a 3-yard run. Bruce had five receptions, including a 31-yard TD catch.
A pass rush from all angles stifled Detroit's first-string offense, which hasn't scored a TD in three preseason losses.
"I have been saying all along that as long as our offensive line protects the quarterback and the defensive line plays well, this will be a good football team," St. Louis' Torry Holt said. "I think we displayed that."
The Lions' starters finally got into the end zone, but two linemen were called for holding, negating the TD. Detroit ended up settling for Jason Hanson's second field goal late in the first half.
Joey Harrington was 9-of-18 for 106 yards, and Kevin Jones had 38 yards rushing on nine carries.
"It was just one of those nights where things kind of piled on top of each other," Harrington said. "We missed blitz pickups, we missed throws and we missed routes. When you get into a funk like that, it's tough to break out."
Jeff Garcia was signed to push Harrington, but he had another lackluster effort, going 2-for-9 for 34 yards with a fumble.
The Rams didn't punt until late in the fourth quarter.
As impressive as St. Louis was, it was more pleased two of its players appear to be healthy after scares.
Cornerback Terry Fair had full feeling in his extremities and never lost consciousness after spraining his neck when his head struck Jones' thigh on a tackle.
Fair, motionless face down on the turf for several minutes, was strapped to a backboard and carted off the field late in the first quarter. As the cart approached the tunnel, the former Lion lifted his right arm and put his thumb up. He was taken to Henry Ford Hospital, where he was to stay overnight.
"We feel very fortunate and blessed it wasn't anything more serious," St. Louis coach Mike Martz said.
After jumping offside and blocking an extra point, Lions safety Terrence Holt ran into Jeff Wilkins. The standout kicker limped to the sideline, but was healthy enough to kick field goals later in the game.
Detroit was without its top two defensive lineman, Shaun Rogers (shin) and James Hall (shoulder), though the duo might not have made much of a difference on a night St. Louis played well and the Lions struggled.
Harrington said the awful performance -- in a game he called a dress rehearsal for the regular season -- didn't alter the team's optimism.
"I don't think it changed anything like that," he said. "We're still as confident and as optimistic as we ever were. We hit a little stumbling block here. But I think it's going to be good for us because we can take it and learn something.
"We are not ready now. It doesn't mean that the talent won't be there once the regular season comes. Right now, we have some things to fix."
Notes: St. Louis RB Arlen Harris (concussion) and S Jerome Carter (Achilles strain) left the game...Lions SS Kenoy Kennedy (hamstring) and LB James Davis (wrist) were hurt during the game while LB Wali Rainer played despite injuring his back in a traffic accident on the way to the game...Detroit LB Teddy Lehman (knee) was inactive for the game and is expected to miss the final preseason game at Buffalo.