ST. LOUIS – Marc Bulger threw three touchdown passes and the St. Louis Rams survived a controversial replay ruling in the fourth quarter to hang on for a 31-27 turnover-filled victory over the Tennessee Titans on Sunday.

The Titans converted three turnovers into 17 points while the Rams got an 85-yard interception return from Adam Archuleta for a touchdown.

The Rams (2-1) won their only Super Bowl in 2000 when Mike Jones’ overtime-saving tackle of Kevin Dyson at the 1 preserved a 23-16 victory over Tennessee. In the first meeting since, the Titans drove to the St. Louis 23 in the final minute and had two shots at the end zone before running out of downs.

Torry Holt caught nine passes for 163 yards in the first three quarters and Kevin Curtis’ 10-yard catch on the first play of the fourth quarter was the go-ahead score for the Rams, the last team in the NFL to play their home opener. St. Louis is a league-best 40-9 at home since 1999, 45-10 counting playoff games.

Steve McNair was 24-of-39 for 261 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions for the Titans (1-2). It took Tennessee, which was leading 10-0 and appeared close to another score early in the second quarter, a long time to recover from Archuleta’s return.

Bulger was 21-of-28 for 292 yards with an interception, although he fumbled three times, losing two. The third fumble was recovered in the fourth quarter by first-round draft pick Alex Barron, who was making his pro debut.

The Titans, who made it to the Super Bowl in 2000 with the help of a questionable lateral known as the “Music City Miracle,” cut the gap to four points on a similar play in the fourth quarter.

With the Rams leading 31-24, Bulger appeared to throw an incompletion on a swing pass to Jackson but there was no whistle and Peter Sirnon scooped up the ball and returned it 41 yards to the Rams 29 with 10:26 left.

The Rams challenged the call and the St. Louis offense and Tennessee defense stayed on the field throughout the review process, an indication that the call would be overturned. But referee Tom White said the play stood.

A third-down sack by Leonard Little forced a 39-yard field goal by Bironas that cut the Rams’ lead to 31-27 with 6:02 to go.

Fans booed the referees at every opportunity the rest of the game.

The Titans outgained the Rams 111-5 in the first quarter and scored on a 16-yard pass from McNair to Ben Troupe and a 41-yard field goal set up by an interception by Tank Williams.

Archuleta’s third career interception reversed the momentum. He jumped on a short route for Drew Bennett and had a wide open field for the 85-yard return that got the Rams on the board early in the second quarter.

Energized, the Rams added a 46-yard field goal by Jeff Wilkins and a 13-yard touchdown pass from Bulger to Marshall Faulk for a 17-10 halftime lead. They increased it on a 32-yarder from Bulger to Holt in the third quarter.

AP-ES-09-25-05 1638EDT


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