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Thread: Good punt gone bad
Good punt gone bad
By Jim Thomas
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
Scott Linehan couldn't have asked for a better punt from Matt Turk.
"Matt kicked it to a very good location," Linehan said. "We were kicking it right — right hash. He had a 4.7 (second) hang. So our coverage was good."
Good indeed. There was just one problem. No one was able to tackle Seattle return man Nate Burleson, who despite appearing to be hemmed in, raced 90 yards for a Seahawks touchdown. It was the first return — punt or kickoff — for a TD allowed by the Rams since the 2005 season opener. Burleson's dramatic play midway through the fourth quarter gave the Seahawks a 21-16 lead en route to a 24-22 victory.
Anything above 4.5 seconds is considered good hang time. Linebacker Will Witherspoon and new Ram Kay-Jay Harris were in good position to make the tackle, but Burleson juked both players and streaked up the sideline. For a while, Dane Looker was in position on the sideline to force Burleson back inside. But he got blocked out of bounds. That left Turk as the last line of defense ... .and Burleson won that battle.
"We might have just relaxed just a bit, with the idea that he might be fair-catching it," Linehan said. "Sometimes you don't see that signal _ you're avoiding your guy, you're running down the field."
For his part, Harris said he did not see a fair-catch signal by Burleson. He did, however, see a good juke.
"He kind of gave me a little stutter step, and threw me off," Harris said. "I just barely got an arm on him. You make the first guy miss, and something big happens every time. He made the first guy miss, and the second guy miss, and the next thing you know he took it to the house for six."
Upon further review
Josh Scobey's 33-yard kickoff return was the longest against the Rams in a month. With the Rams backed up to their 15 for the kickoff because of a personal foul penalty against Richie Incognito, the timing couldn't have been worse for a coverage breakdown. The excellent field position led to Josh Brown's game-winning field goal for Seattle.
Linehan had no problems with Jeff Wilkins' boot.
"He kicked it almost 70 yards," Linehan said. "The hang (time) was really acceptable. What didn't work was our coverage. We got out of our lane discipline. ... "
How far out of lane discipline? Well, by the time Scobey cut from his right to his left, the Rams had seven players stationed inside the right hash mark. Another was on the right hashmark. So when Scobey cut back at about his 32 and veered left, only three Rams were on that side of the field. Harris, the new Rams, had the best shot at Scobey, but he slipped at the 35, right before Harris cut back.
— LT Orlando Pace (torn triceps muscle) is out for the season and may need surgery.
— CB Travis Fisher (fractured forearm) is out this week and may be sidelined four to five weeks.
— LB Isaiah Kacyvenski (concussion, hip) will have his hip checked today and is questionable.
— LB Raonall Smith (mouth, tooth) was scheduled to see an oral surgeon Monday but should play this week.
The Rams have allowed six 100-yard rushers in nine games this season:
— LaDainian Tomlinson, San Diego, 183
— Larry Johnson, Kansas City, 172