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Return men bring mixed bag of results
By Bill Coats
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
Sunday, Oct. 09 2005
It started so promisingly ... and ended so maddeningly.
"I made a bad play at the wrong time," Shaun McDonald said quietly after
fumbling away the Rams' final chance at yanking a win away from NFC West rival
Seattle on Sunday.
McDonald lost the ball on a hit by the Seahawks' Jordan Babineaux, and
Jean-Philippe Darche pounced on it at the Rams' 37-yard line with 2 minutes 51
seconds remaining at the Edward Jones Dome. Seattle picked up two first downs,
then ran out the clock on a 37-31 victory.
"It definitely hurts when you make a crucial play like that late in the game,
where there's no coming back from it," McDonald said.
McDonald wouldn't have been in that position, however, had teammate Terry Fair
not opted out of the play. Fair, activated for the first time since suffering a
neck injury Aug. 29, replaced McDonald as the primary punt returner Sunday, and
brought back Seattle's first three boots.
But Fair was forced into action at cornerback on the preceding series and asked
McDonald to take over for him on the punt. McDonald said he was "a little
surprised" to be summoned.
"I was really winded," Fair explained. "Maybe I should've been in there on that
play. Maybe I let my teammates down a little bit."
Coach Mike Martz said Fair "was playing defense and asked to come out. We don't
do that, and Terry isn't familiar with that. You don't take yourself out."
Special-teams coach Bob Ligashesky was more succinct in his analysis: "That
wasn't supposed to happen. Terry Fair should've been in the game."
Because of a succession of injuries, Fair hadn't played in a regular-season
contest in more than three years. "Just to get out on the field and know that
I'm actually back in the NFL ... it's good to get my feet wet a little bit and
get some of the rust off," said Fair, an eight-year veteran.
Still, the punt sequence quashed his enthusiasm. "I just feel so bad right now
because of the loss. I really feel disappointed in myself," he said. "What a
way to start."
Chris Johnson might have said the same thing, but with a far different meaning.
Johnson sprinted 99 yards with the opening kickoff, putting the Rams up 7-0.
"I was kind of shocked. It was just a great feeling, my first one ever," said
Johnson, who ripped off a blistering 4.18-second 40 in front of NFL scouts
three years ago. Lest he forget the feat, Johnson has the time tattooed on his
He isn't likely to forget Sunday's dash, either: He had the football under his
arm as he left the locker room.
"It was a right return ... but the middle opened up, so I knew if I turned it
on, I was going to get through it," Johnson said. "I was looking back, but I
knew nobody was going to catch me."
So, it was one up and one down for the return teams.
"That's the reality of special teams," Ligashesky said. "You know that every
play of every game is not going to be perfect. So, you live through the ups and
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Re: Return men bring mixed bag of results
Standing on the 40, MacDonald could have just fair caught the ball, since he was thrown in there last minute.
Fair just came back from his neck stinger and was forced to jump in a play CB. NO WAY IS THIS HIS FAULT. If he doesn't know that "we don't do that"... then this is the coaches fault to make sure that the players know what it is WE DO.
Re: Return men bring mixed bag of resultsOriginally Posted by sbramfan