Game film shows refs missed call on fumble
Play was called a lateral, but really was a forward pass
BY STEVE KORTE
ST. LOUIS - After reviewing game film, St. Louis Rams coach Mike Martz said that a play ruled as a lateral should have been an incomplete pass in the fourth quarter of the team's 31-27 win over the Tennessee Titans on Sunday.
"It's not a lateral," Martz said. "There is no question about it. It's a forward pass. It's close. It's a lot closer than what it looked on the replay. His foot is on the white line, and the ball is being released behind his foot. The ball lands right on the white line. It's not a lateral."
The controversial call came with 10:41 left in the game, and the Rams leading 31-24.
As he was falling back, Rams quarterback Marc Bulger threw a short swing pass to running back Steven Jackson.
The pass was off the mark, and landed in front of Jackson, who immediately turned and started to walk back to the huddle for the next play.
Titans linebacker Peter Sirmon picked up the loose ball and started to run. Jackson recovered in time to tackle Sirmon at the St. Louis 29.
The Rams immediately challenged the call, but it was upheld on instant replay because there wasn't conclusive evidence to overturn it.
"I wasn't shocked," Bulger said. "I've been in the NFL now long enough not to be shocked by anything. Nine times out of 10, they'll just call it incomplete and give the reason of doubt to the offense. It's tough to overturn a play like that when there's not conclusive evidence."
Martz reacted to referee Tom White's replay ruling by going ballistic. His face was bright red as he shouted at the officials.
As upset as he was, Martz said he waited until Monday morning to look at tape of the play.
"I was anxious to see it on tape when I came in this morning," Martz said. "You think about it all night, especially if we had lost that one."
Martz said Rams defensive line coach Bill Kollar, known for his bellowing voice, was the one who alerted Jackson to the fact that the whistle signaling the end of the play hadn't blown.
"I think we had all turned around," Martz said. "Bill Kollar was standing on the sideline, and he was going nuts. He's hollering, 'Get on the ball, get the ball.' That's when they all turned to get the ball.
"I'm not sure the defensive players that were on the field would have thought about it if Bill hadn't been yelling. Bill got their attention."
Martz quickly backed off his comment, saying that Kollar didn't start yelling until Sirmon was going after the ball.
Battered, but not broken
The Rams have sent tape of Titans strong safety Tank Williams hitting Bulger in the throat with his forearm in the first quarter to the league office.
The Rams called a timeout after the hit to allow Bulger to gather himself.
"As he came through, a guy deliberately took his forearm and hit him right in the throat," Martz said. "It's very clear on tape, and my guess is that it would have to be very evident on the TV copy. The official standing behind him obviously didn't see it or I'm sure he would have flagged him."
Bulger took a licking, but kept on ticking against the Titans.
"I never go there," Martz said when asked if he ever worries about Bulger getting back up after a hard hit. "I honestly don't think about that. After that last touchdown throw because I did see the hit onto his legs. I was very concerned then."
Titans defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch dove at Bulger's legs as he was throwing a 10-yard touchdown pass to Kevin Curtis early in the fourth quarter. Bulger was slow getting to his feet after the play.
"He just went right after his knees, he sure did," Martz said. "At least it appeared that way. I don't know if it was intentional or not."
Vanden Bosch walked over and shook Bulger's hand after he got to his feet.
Martz, who has made a practice of waiting until Wednesday before announcing any injury updates, said Monday that he didn't know the extent of the turf toe injury that wide receiver Isaac Bruce suffered Sunday.
Most turf toes often take several weeks to heal, so Bruce's availability against the New York Giants on Sunday is in doubt.
Martz did say that there is chance that offensive lineman Rex Tucker, who did some running Monday, will be ready to play against the Giants.
Tucker was the team's starting right tackle until suffering a calf injury against San Francisco two weeks ago.
Martz said rookie Alex Barron will be the team's starting right tackle against the Giants, even if Tucker returns.
Re: Game film shows refs missed call on fumble
Did anything ever come from the Sirmon hit? Fine? Slap on the wrist?