When their offensive team is on the field this year, the St. Louis Rams are making the kinds of plays that no other teams are even attempting.

And that's one reason why they're winning most of the time.

At a critical moment Sunday, for example, the Rams' two key players, Kurt Warner and Marshall Faulk, combined to score on the New Orleans Saints with a new kind of draw play.

On first and goal at the New Orleans six-yard line, quarterback Warner, football in hand, raised his arm high to throw a slant pass, seemingly, then pulled it down and slipped the ball to running back Faulk, who slithered easily into the end zone.

It was perhaps the most complete draw-play fake ever made.

And at the time, the Rams needed it, or seemed to, after a 15-12 first half.

But as they won for the ninth time in 11 starts, the rest was a rout in a game that ended 43-12.

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The Case for Misdirection

During the mid-century years when former Ram coach Clark Shaughnessy invented the modern T formation, his running game was based on two-back deception.

On most plays, by design, Shaughnessy's quarterback faked a handoff to the fullback before handing off to a halfback.

Or he handed off first and then faked.

By contrast in recent years, most NFL coaches have focused increasingly on one featured running back, usually an I-formation tailback running with Spartan simplicitly behind a blocking fullback.

This year the Rams have brought back Shaughnessy's two-back artistry, and that's another explanation for their success.

On offense, they keep attacking aggressively with misdirection plays involving Faulk and underrated fullback Robert Holcombe.

For instance, as the Saints chased Faulk after fake handoffs or pitches Sunday, Holcombe ran for several first downs and a touchdown, proving again that deception in football can be more powerful than a power play.

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They're Aiming at the Rams

Surprising the league, the 1999 Rams have started so fast, and have generally scored so handily, that every opponent has been studying them in detail and devising new ways to slow them down with new kinds of blitzes and other defensive schemes.