Rams Notebook: Fisher cites errant call

2012-09-25T00:35:00Z 2012-10-01T07:45:57Z Rams Notebook: Fisher cites errant callBY KATHLEEN NELSON • knelson@post-dispatch.com > 314-340-8233 stltoday.com

Coach Jeff Fisher took exception to the penalty assessed to Mario Haggan on Bears punter Adam Podlesh, which occurred on the first drive of the Rams' 23-6 loss in Chicago on Sunday.

The referee announced the penalty as "unnecessary roughness," though it is listed as "roughing the kicker" in the official play-by-play. Either way, the Bears' drive stayed alive and ended up with a 54-yard field goal by Robbie Gould. And either way, Fisher said, the call was wrong.

"It actually was running into the kicker, it's not roughing," Fisher said. "And running into the kicker is 5 yards, not 15 and an automatic first down. So, that was one that was hard for us to overcome."

He had less of a problem with the call on Darian Stewart for roughing the passer in the second quarter, though added that in this case, it could be a judgment call. The call extended the drive, which led to a Bears touchdown.

"Stew did a great job of adjusting to the defense and adding, as we call it, on the play," he said. "Yes, there was some contact, helmet-to-helmet contact. It wasn't extreme, but they're going to protect the quarterbacks, for the most part."

The penalties gave the Bears 10 extra plays, four extra minutes of possession time and 10 points. But he didn't take the opportunity to vent frustration with the performance of replacement referees, as did some of his coaching counterparts. New England's Bill Belichick, for example, grabbed one of the officials after the Patriots' 31-30 loss to the Ravens.

"I'm hopeful, as everybody is, that we can get this resolved," Fisher said. "The guys are doing the absolute best they can. It's a very, very difficult task to do what they've been asked to do."

Fisher said he didn't mind the lengthy delays when the replacements get help from the booth.

"As long as they get it right," Fisher said, "they can take as much time as they want."


The good news for the Rams on Monday was that no new injuries "trickled in," as Fisher said. He also noted that first-round pick Michael Brockers could return to practice after having a good workout before the game.

Brockers, a defensive tackle, suffered a high-ankle sprain in the final preseason game against the Baltimore Ravens and has yet to play a snap in the regular season.

Fisher also said of running back Steven Jackson, "I think he would benefit from the week" to further heal from a groin injury he suffered Sept. 16 against Washington. Jackson rushed 11 times for 29 yards Sunday.


Greg Zuerlein's 56-yard field goal was 1 yard shy of the franchise record, set by Jeff Wilkins in 1998. But he might not have had the chance to kick it if Bears coach Lovie Smith had not called a timeout with 27 seconds left in the half and the Rams in punt formation. Fisher said he pulled punter John Hekker in favor of Zuerlein because of a shift in the wind.

Zuerlein said he hadn't noticed the change of direction but was ready nonetheless. "I didn't think about it. I do what they tell me, go up there and be ready," he said.

He said Fisher's last-second change of heart wasn't upsetting to either him or Hekker.

"Coach Fassel comes down and tells me and Johnny and we have field goal and punt alert," said Zuerlein, a sixth-round pick out of Missouri Western. "So, we get our warm-up kicks in and go up to the sideline and see which one Coach calls."


Linebacker James Laurinaitis, cornerback Cortland Finnegan and safety Quintin Mikell played every defensive snap Sunday, according to team stats. Laurinaitis led the team with 14 tackles; Mikell was second with 11.

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