– Rams coach Jeff Fisher just completed his day after game news conference and discussed yesterday’s 27-23 loss to the Lions.
– At the forefront of the discussion was a clock operator issue that effectively served as a fourth timeout for the Lions late in the fourth quarter and might have made a difference in the game’s final outcome. More on that after a quick injury interlude.
– Good news for LT Rodger Saffold, who was discharged from a Detroit hospital last night and returned to St. Louis this morning. Fisher said Saffold had a “major” strain in his neck but will have some more tests to see if there is anything else that might have been missed in the initial tests. For now, though, the outlook is good. It remains to be seen when he’ll return but for now it seems the outcome is as positive as possible in a scary situation. Great news for a great guy.
– The bad news on the other coin is the loss of C Scott Wells, who just doesn’t seem to be able to catch a break. Wells has a fractured fifth metatarsal in his foot that will keep him out for an extended period. Wells will have surgery on the foot and be placed on injured reserve so the Rams can replace him on the roster. The silver lining for the Rams is the use of the new injured reserve rule which allows teams to bring back one player per season from injured reserve so long as they are on that list for six weeks. Wells’ surgery and recovery should take right at about six weeks and he’ll be able to return to practice at that point. He can play again in week 8.
– Tough blows to an already battered offensive line. Look for the Rams to bring in some reinforcements for that group.
– Back to the clock issue. The situation is this:
When QB Sam Bradford scrambled for 3 yards on second down at Detroit’s 28, he made it a point to slide down in bounds to keep the clock running. Side judge Shannon Eastin ruled that Bradford stayed in bounds and kept the clock winding. But the clock operator saw it different and stopped the clock at 2:38. By the time it started winding again, the play clock had ticked three seconds below the game clock and the Rams were unable to run it all the way down to the two minute warning as planned.
So, Fisher had to change the plan and ran the clock down before calling timeout just before the two-minute warning. Not only did that give Detroit an extra timeout but it also changed the plan for the third down play. Instead of a run which would have forced Detroit to use its last timeout or risk losing another valuable 40 seconds, the Rams called for a pass to try to convert on third down knowing the two-minute warning would stop the clock even if the pass was complete. So, the Rams threw incomplete and kicked the field goal, giving it back to Detroit with 1:55 to go.
Fisher said the plan was to run the ball and try to force Detroit coach Jim Schwartz to use his final timeout. Now, the Lions did move down the field quickly but they used their last timeout with 35 seconds left. Chances are, they still would have had time to boot the tying field goal but they might not have been able to score a winning touchdown.
And, of course, Fisher made a point of emphasis to say that the Rams still had plenty of chances to win the game by making a play here or there. When they didn’t, they came up short. It also should be pointed out that clock operators are a separate entity from the officials so it wasn’t a “replacement” clock operator.
– As for other happenings from Sunday:
– Fisher would liked to have gotten more from his pass rush. While Detroit QB Matthew Stafford got rid of the ball quick on a lot of hot reads and check downs, Fisher would like his front four to generate more heat. It really cost the Rams in the second half when the Lions started throwing more vertically.
– Speaking of which, Fisher said there were communication breakdowns and guys jumping routes again late which led to some of the big plays that allowed the Lions to drive the field so quickly to wrap up the victory. He also pointed to some miscommunications on the final play that led to RB Kevin Smith’s touchdown.
– On that final touchdown, the Lions used a run-fake pass to suck in the Rams linebackers and that left Smith open in the flat.
– Fisher was pleased but measured in his words about T Wayne Hunter and G Rokevious Watkins in their performance stepping in on Sunday.
– He also indicated that T Ty Nsekhe and G Shelley Smith would be possibilities to get closer looks this week. Keep an eye on Smith, especially.
– Overall, Fisher reiterated what he said on Sunday: While there was a lot to like from the game, his team still lost by four points. That outcome isn’t what this team wants and there will never be any cigars lit for a moral victory.
– That’ll do it for today. Thanks for reading.
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