Flipper Anderson's set-up man, Jim Everett, was so lost in the landscape of Anderson's record-breaking receiving performance against New Orleans that it took a night's sleep and a film session to comprehend Everett's role.
Now, brace yourself for the two greatest single feats ever witnessed by a coach on the same night. Move over, Flipper.
"I think Jim Everett played his best game ever as a pro," Ram Coach John Robinson said.
Robinson's assessments were based on more than sheer numbers, although Everett set career bests for attempts, 51, completions, 29, and passing yardage, 454, in the Rams' overtime victory over the Saints.
Yet it was Everett's relentless pursuit of victory under difficult circumstances that moved Robinson to several words.
"He had so many opportunities to say 'To hell with it,' " Robinson said. "He had injuries, his best receiver out of the game (Henry Ellard), the team was ineffective running the football, the rush was getting to him.
"We had some assignment errors, we had a lineman hurt (Jackie Slater), we were behind, there was frustration. He had every possible reason to not keep playing, more so than anyone else on the team."
On a night when teammate Anderson shattered the NFL's single-game yardage record with 336 in 15 catches, Everett seemed reduced to the guy who had enough sense to keep throwing Anderson the ball.
But it wasn't that easy.
"There were guys that were open," Robinson said, "but it was just their left ear that was open sometimes."
That Everett would remain steady in the pocket with Saints' linebacker Pat Swilling and Co. breathing down his neck all night was testimony to his development.
Everett was sacked six times and, according to Robinson's estimate, knocked down 25 times in all.
"He knew they were coming on all of those and he just stood in there and got better and better," Robinson said.
There's some image-changing going on here. The Everett of 1988 put up great numbers but couldn't put away opponents, throwing last-minute interceptions that cost his team possible victories against Philadelphia and New Orleans.
The 1989 Everett has rallied his team four times in the fourth quarter to lead in the closing minutes. The defense gave away games at Buffalo and Minnesota.
"One of the things people said about him before was that, 'Well, we're never going to put him at the top level until he proves he can do those kinds of things,' " Robinson said. "But he is doing those things. We're talking about a very, very, very good quarterback."
The week in New Orleans turned out to be the most bitter in Robinson's memory, and this time he is dropping his gloves and fighting back.
Robinson remained incensed on Monday over a weeklong media campaign in which one Robinson quote about the Rams supposedly "forfeiting" the first game in Anaheim was taken out of context and repeatedly used to incite the Saints during the week.
Sunday, a New Orleans Times-Picayune story included an unedited Robinson quote that played upon the coach's staggered speech patterns, including the use of six "uh's" in a paragraph he's sure was designed to make him sound foolish.
Robinson once was a stammerer, and has worked hard to make the problem virtually undetectable in conversation.
"I think what they did was a cheap shot," he said. "I think it was poor journalism. I think the motivation was a reach under any circumstance. Those of us that are in this business are constantly quoted and constantly in front of the cameras and are exposed in that manner.
"When one response is twisted so manipulatively by someone, it gives you a tendency to become distrustful. I think what they did was out of line, completely. I have no recourse, obviously."
Robinson said fans at the Superdome were particularly hostile, but the logistics of the stadium kept hecklers at a safe distance.
Greatest performances, Part III: Robinson said the play he will remember for years to come is linebacker Kevin Greene's leaping tackle of Dalton Hilliard on third and one at the Rams' 45 in overtime. Hilliard lost two yards on the play, and the Saints were forced to punt.
Greene said the move was instinctive, but that he did have a sense Hilliard was going to get the ball.
"A good linebacker will get a feel for what they're going to run at you," he said. "I kind of had a feeling that basically it was going to come my way." Greene had two sacks in the game and has 13.5 for the season.
What price glory? Flipper Andersen's yards-per-catch ratio has dropped from 30.7 to 27.1. . . . The Rams moved up three more spots in total defense to 15th this week. The unit ranked 26th only three weeks ago.
THE RAMS BY THE NUMBERS
HIGHLIGHT WILLIE (FLIPPER) ANDERSON
A "deep route" receiver for the first 11 games of the season who caught only 19 passes for 548 yards, the UCLA product was cast in the role of No.1 pass catcher when a hamstring injury forced Henry Ellard to sit out Sunday's game. He and Jim Everett proceeded to rewrite the NFL single-game record book, as he caught 15 of Everett's passes for 336 yards. His three key receptions: A 46-yarder which set up his team's first TD; a 15-yard touchdown pass which, with Mike Lansford's conversion, tied the score, 17-17, and forced overtime, and a 26-yarder on a third-and-11 play which set up Lansford's 31-yard, game-winning field goal.
SEASON TO DATE
RAMS: 236 OPP: 223
RAMS: 1,324 OPP: 1,180
RAMS: 3,024 OPP: 2,900
ATT AVG TDs 346 3.9 13
ATT AVG TDs 304 3.9 11
ATT CP TDs 399 233 19
ATT CP TDs 415 249 13
PUNTS / AVERAGE
RAMS: 57/38.0 OPP: 63/42.4
PENALTIES / YARDS
RAMS: 82/646 OPP: 68/560
FUMBLES / LOST
RAMS: 18/6 OPP: 24/9
RAMS: 14/223 OPP: 15/192
SCORING BY QUARTERS
1 2 3 4 OT F RAMS 81 96 40 82 3 302 OPP 43 64 69 71 2 249
RAMS: 30:54 OPP: 29:50