Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Rams Rookies Learn Hard Way on FG Delay; Penalty Was Costly in Tie with 49ers, but Players Ready to Move On

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Rams Rookies Learn Hard Way on FG Delay; Penalty Was Costly in Tie with 49ers, but Players Ready to Move On

Article excerpt

It's not as if the Rams' field goal unit was pressed for time when rookie Greg Zuerlein lined up for a 53-yard attempt in overtime last Sunday.

"No," said rookie holder (and punter) Johnny Hekker. "We took our time and that was the problem." It sure was.

In what was a pretty quick whistle, the Rams were penalized for delay of game as Zuerlein's 53-yard attempt sailed through the uprights at Candlestick Park. Because of the flag, the kick was nullified and a five-yard penalty marked off. Zuerlein had the distance on the ensuing 58-yard attempt but the kick sailed wide right with 2 minutes 42 seconds left in overtime. The Rams ultimately settled for a 24-24 tie with San Francisco.

"It was my fault," Hekker said. "As the holder, I'm supposed to be aware of the play clock and everything. Just ran out on the field; wasn't thinking much (about the clock). I thought we had more time than we did. Didn't even glance at the clock. Rookie mistake. I'm not gonna let it happen again."

Special teams coordinator John Fassel talked to Hekker, Zuerlein, and long snapper Jake McQuaide this week about what happened in Candlestick, emphasizing the importance of a tempo when setting up for a kick.

"When you watch the film, it just took a long time as we looked back to see if the kicker's OK, and then we look back for the snap," Fassel said. "And you could tell we were taking our time, which was good because they're obviously poised in a pretty critical situation. But maybe too poised.

"So, that's on me to just make sure that the young guys understand that the play clock is ticking on a field goal and we've gotta get that off. It was no doubt devastating and I'm sure it won't happen again."

Ideally, Fassel says the ball should be snapped no later than the 6-second mark on the play clock.

Be it little league, high school, college, Zuerlein says he has never had a delay of game on a field goal at any level prior to Sunday.

"I could've went out there and taken my steps faster," Zuerlein said. …

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