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Heat Wave Has Rams Carried Away : Linebackers Are Especially Taken Back by Temperatures

<i> Times Staff Writer</i>

You have your dry heat, your humid heat, your Miami Heat, and, Sunday at Anaheim Stadium, vacuum-packed heat. Yes, all the degrees with half the oxygen.

Hard to breathe?

The Rams and San Francisco 49ers ran sprint after sprint on grass turned cooking surface, trying to get their breath in a stadium with all air flow of a sealed tennis-ball can.

After the San Francisco 49ers’ 24-21 victory over the Rams, Ram defensive linemen Shawn Miller lay on his back, dehydrated, with an intravenous tube plugged into his arm. Linebacker Mark Jerue had to leave the game because of dehydration.

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The heat--estimated at more than 100 degrees on the field--and the monster hitting that comes with a big game such as Sunday’s, ground down just about everyone.

“I think a lot of guys were playing on empty tanks toward the end,” Ram Coach John Robinson said.

Running on fumes was the Ram linebacking corps. Besides Jerue, Mike Wilcher had to leave with a concussion that left him not only wondering what hit him, but who hit whom.

Asked to comment on the game, Wilcher said: “I really can’t remember any plays. I came back and watched the second half on the field, but I wasn’t too clear on what was going on.”

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Carl Ekern was so exhausted in the fourth quarter that he could barely make it to the sideline, and when he did he folded in half, his hands glued to his knees.

“We felt the need for volunteers at the end,” Robinson said.

It was obvious that those who did remain could expect little relief from the bench. That was especially bad news since the Ram defense spent more than 36 minutes on the field.

“It (the heat) started to affect me pretty quick, but I knew there was no help coming,” said Fred Strickland, rookie Ram linebacker. “You knew that’s the way it was going to be, so you just had to play through it.”

Strickland and fellow rookie Brett Faryniarz played through it all with varying results.

Faryniarz made 7 tackles filling in for Wilcher. Of course, he had a lot of opportunities.

“Everyone is going to pick on the new guy right away,” Faryniarz said. “I was expecting them to go at me and they did.”

Perhaps that’s because Farynairz’s credentials coming in weren’t exactly awe-inspiring. A free agent out of San Diego State--a second team all-Western Athletic Conference selection--Faryniarz was a surprise as well as the last person to make the team. His Ram media guide biography is all of two sentences.

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Strickland, a second-round draft pick, had 4 tackles. Like Faryniarz, Strickland was a big bull’s-eye to the 49ers. When he replaced Ekern in the fourth quarter, the next play, a trap to running back Roger Craig, was run right at Strickland.

Craig scored on a 16-yard run.

“He was coming right at me, then he cut it inside,” Strickland said. “I couldn’t get to him.”

Join the crowd, Fred. Craig rushed for 190 yards in 22 carries against the Rams.

“All in all I thought those two kids came in and played well,” Robinson said. “I thought Brett Faryniarz really came in and did the job.”

Not a bad job at all, considering the working conditions.


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