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Spagnuolo Dissects Tough Loss For Rams
Spagnuolo dissects tough loss for Rams
BY JIM THOMAS
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Rookie Patrick Peterson entered the game as the NFL's leading punt returner. He'd already scored two touchdowns on returns of 80 yards-plus this season for Arizona. So rookie or not, it's not as if the Rams weren't warned.
Nonetheless, even after reviewing tape of Peterson's game-winning punt return of 99 yards Sunday for the Cardinals, coach Steve Spagnuolo defended the decision to kick the ball to him early in overtime instead of knocking it out of bounds.
"Hindsight (being) 20-20, I still think we did the right thing," Spagnuolo said.
The Rams had hoped to pin Peterson inside the 10 as they had done twice in the third quarter. "That was the game plan," Spagnuolo said.
Punter Donnie Jones was kicking the stuffing out of the ball Sunday. He averaged 50.3 yards on his seven kicks, with an average hang-time of 5.07 seconds, Spagnuolo said.
Jones punted to the right, but not to the corner of the field. Quinn Porter closed in on Peterson to the right and Brit Miller was in good position in front. But the trouble began with Dominique Curry, one of the Rams' top special teams players, getting pinned inside at the 10-yard line. That left the left side of the field open. Peterson headed that way, quickly leaving Porter and Miller in his wake.
By the time James Butler missed a diving tackle attempt at the 17, Peterson already had six Rams defenders behind him. Eugene Sims missed a diving attempt at the 27, and Peterson eluded his last potential obstacle - Jones - with a jaw-dropping spin move at the 35. At that point, it was just a race to the end zone. And with 4.34-second speed in the 40, Peterson wasn't going to be caught.
The return gave Arizona a 19-13 overtime victory. In just eight NFL games, Peterson has tied a Cardinals career record for most punt returns for touchdown (three). The Rams helped make Peterson a star by kicking it to him.
Peterson's play turned the lights out at University of Phoenix Stadium, but it was just one of several that didn't go the Rams' way in the fourth quarter and overtime.
Fitzgerald uncovered • On first and 10 from the St. Louis 13, it was strange to see star Arizona wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald line up in the left slot with no Rams defender -especially a cornerback - on him. He ended up being isolated on middle linebacker James Laurinaitis, who also had some safety help. An elite receiver against a middle linebacker, even a very good one such as Laurinaitis? It's a matchup the wideout should win nine out of 10 times.
Fitzgerald did, catching a 13-yard touchdown pass to tie the score 13-13 with 4 minutes, 51 seconds left in regulation.
"No busted coverage," Spagnuolo said Monday. "Nobody busted a coverage or anything. ... That was a heck of a throw and a heck of a catch. It just gets over the ‘MIKE' linebacker. We could have had a little bit of help from somebody else, but I thought it was a heck of a throw and catch."
Third and 1, fourth and 1 • When Steven Jackson was stopped for no gain on third and inches from the Arizona 33, Rams place-kicker Josh Brown was ready to go.
But a miss would've given Arizona possession at the Rams' 41 with about 1:40 to play in regulation with the score tied 13-13. Spagnuolo decided to go for it on fourth down, running the same play - a stretch play wide left that Jackson had been stopped on for no gain on the previous play.
Jackson was stopped again for no gain, and the Big Red took over on downs. Why go with the same play on fourth down, after the third-down play had been stuffed?
"When you saw the first one you thought you still had a chance to get it, so we went with the exact same play," Spagnuolo said. "You practice those things, you believe in the guys you're doing it with. You go in planning to get it."
Field goal blocked • With 4 seconds left in regulation, the Rams missed a chance to win the game in regulation when Brown's 42-yard field goal was blocked by Calais Cambell. There was a simple explanation for this miscue.
"There's penetration on the left side," Spagnuolo said. "Too much penetration. The ball hits him in the hand and at 6-foot-8, the good Lord blessed him with a lot of height and he made a good play. But the snap, the kick, all that was fine."
Campbell's penetration came in an area where Mark LeVoir and Harvey Dahl were blocking for the Rams.
Re: Spagnuolo Dissects Tough Loss For Rams
I'm glad Spags doesn't see any mistakes on his part. I am looking forward to losing the same way in future.
Re: Spagnuolo Dissects Tough Loss For Rams
"Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."
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