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Coming off a Super Bowl defeat at the hands of the New England Patriots, Kurt Warner had a chance to lead the St. Louis Rams back to prominence during the 2002 season. The universe had other ideas, though.

Despite Marshall Faulk, Torry Holt, Isaac Bruce, and Ricky Proehl still heading the depth chart at the skill positions, the Greatest Show on Turf couldn’t replicate the magic it had produced in previous campaigns. Turnovers ran rampant, and Warner — even while staying away from spiders — couldn’t get anything going.

First came an opening-week matchup with the Brian Griese-led Denver Broncos. Warner completed 32 of his 41 passes, but none of them found the end zone. The Broncos kept him to underneath routes all game while holding Faulk to 10 carries for 19 yards and a touchdown, and the Rams’ only other points in the 23-16 defeat came via Jeff Wilkins’ right leg.

And that was just the beginning.

Three games into the season, Warner was clearly in a funk.

After the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ top-ranked defense picked him off four times, he’d thrown seven interceptions to just one touchdown while leading the Rams to 51 total points and an 0-3 record. Even that was better than Week 4, which saw him break the pinky finger on his right hand just two passes into the contest — one a 17-yard completion to Faulk and the other a pass caught by Dallas Cowboys defensive end Greg Ellis.

The Rams got themselves off the schneid after an 0-5 start (Jamie Martin was the starting quarterback for the fifth loss) with four straight victories against the Oakland Raiders, Seattle Seahawks, Arizona Cardinals, and San Diego Chargers, all of which came with Marc Bulger as the primary signal-caller.

Bulger had entered the NFL as a sixth-round pick in 2000, but practice squads had been his permanent home before the Warner injury. Even then, he needed Martin to go down with a knee injury to move from third string to the starting role.

But following in Warner’s footsteps with an unlikely rise to prominence, Bulger flat-out thrived. In his five victorious starts midway through the 2002 campaign, he completed 65.3% of his passes for 1,496 yards (299.2 per game), 12 touchdowns, and four interceptions.

Kurt Warner prepares to take a snap for the St. Louis Rams during the 2022 NFL season
Quarterback Kurt Warner of the St. Louis Rams calls out signals against the Chicago Bears | Elsa/Getty Images
Related Kurt Warner Is a Member of the Elite Club of NFL Quarterbacks to Start Super Bowls For Multiple Teams

Kurt Warner Is a Member of the Elite Club of NFL Quarterbacks to Start Super Bowls For Multiple Teams

Still, Warner had a chance to take back the reins once his finger healed up. It just didn’t go well.

After playing one drive in a Week 11 victory over the Chicago Bears, Warner reclaimed the starting job and continued to struggle. The Rams only scored 20 total points in two consecutive losses, and the QB ended up on injured reserve after he suffered a fracture of the fifth metacarpal in his right hand.

Though the inability to stay healthy gave him a viable excuse, the 31-year-old had suffered through the worst season of his career, finishing with three touchdown passes and 11 interceptions in six winless starts.

Read more about Kurt Warner’s NFL career:

Kurt Warner 2002 Stats

Passing Stats


Rushing Stats


Kurt Warner 2002 Game Log

Passing Stats

9/8/021@DENL 23-1632413150188.5
9/15/022NYGL 26-2126392661273.2
9/23/023@TBL 26-1430453010448.5
9/29/024DALL 13-1012170139.6
10/6/025@SFL 37-13N/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
10/13/026OAKW 28-13N/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
10/20/027SEAW 37-20N/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
11/3/029@ARIW 27-14N/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
11/10/0210SDGW 28-24N/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
11/18/0211CHIW 21-1612130070.8
11/24/0212@WASL 20-1734493012190.6
12/1/0213@PHIL 10-320422180243.6
12/8/0214@KCL 49-10N/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
12/15/0215ARIW 30-28N/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
12/22/0216@SEAL 30-10N/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
12/30/0217SFW 31-20N/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A

Rushing Stats

9/8/021@DENL 23-161800
9/15/022NYGL 26-212500
9/23/023@TBL 26-1431902
9/29/024DALL 13-100000
10/6/025@SFL 37-13N/AN/AN/AN/A
10/13/026OAKW 28-13N/AN/AN/AN/A
10/20/027SEAW 37-20N/AN/AN/AN/A
11/3/029@ARIW 27-14N/AN/AN/AN/A
11/10/0210SDGW 28-24N/AN/AN/AN/A
11/18/0211CHIW 21-160000
11/24/0212@WASL 20-171000
12/1/0213@PHIL 10-31100
12/8/0214@KANL 49-10N/AN/AN/AN/A
12/15/0215ARIW 30-28N/AN/AN/AN/A
12/22/0216@SEAL 30-10N/AN/AN/AN/A
12/30/0217SFW 31-20N/AN/AN/AN/A

All stats, unless otherwise indicated, courtesy of Pro Football Reference