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Video Matchup

RAMS VS. BUCCANEERS 

 

MARTIN GRAMATICA, BUCCANEERS KICKER

ROBERT THOMAS, RAMS LINEBACKER

Who'll win on Monday night? In a preview Rams LB Robert Thomas and Bucs K Martin Gramatica played EA Sports Madden 2005 on Xbox Live.

IT DIDN'T take long for Thomas, bearing down in his St. Louis hotel room, to begin calling his shots. After the Rams' first possession led nowhere, Thomas punted, and as the ball was about to land in Dwight Smith's arms, Thomas warned, "You better fair catch that!" John Madden had barely shouted "Boom!" when Smith got drilled, losing the ball. The Rams recovered, and a few plays later Marc Bulger threw a TD pass to Torry Holt for a 7--0 lead.

It soon became clear that as a video-gamesman, the kicker was no All-Pro. Thomas employed St. Louis's 6'3", 261-pound defensive end Leonard Little to create havoc as he continued to make dead-on predictions. "Watch out for this guy!" Thomas cautioned before a Little sack. Gramatica, a native of Buenos Aires who wore a Boca Juniors jersey as he played in a Tampa airport hotel, had fallen behind 14--0 at halftime. "You know you're really playing a five-year-old, and I'm just cheering him on," he told Thomas. Not even the midgame arrival of Gramatica's brother Santiago, a kicker for South Florida, improved the Bucs' fortunes. Thomas, behind a 48yard TD run by Marshall Faulk, went up 30--0. Gramatica joked, "You know FIFA is really my game," and though he scored a late TD, his only solace came afterward, when he tucked into a room-service club sandwich and fruit. RAMS 30, BUCS 7

The winner of SI Players' weekly Video Matchup has gone 2--2 on Monday nights.

COLOR PHOTO

PIERRE DUCHARME/REUTERS (GRAMATICA)

COLOR PHOTO ILLUSTRATION

CORBIS (TV); EA SPORTS (GAME)

COLOR PHOTO

ROBERT LEITER/ICON SMI (THOMAS)