ST. LOUIS, Mo. (AP) Jeff Fisher says officiating mistakes were the biggest reason the St. Louis Rams fell short in their bid for a second comeback victory in as many games.
The Rams (1-1) had seven penalties for 53 yards in a 31-24 loss at Atlanta on Sunday.
After reviewing tape Monday, their coach said he wasn’t concerned about the penalties because only two made by referee Scott Green’s crew should have been called.
“I was upset after the ballgame, but looking at the tape those are incorrect calls,” Fisher said.
“There were some other instances where there should have been some things called against our opponent that were not called, that could have created some situations for us.”
Among others, Fisher judged that twice-whistled rookie Stedman Bailey had proper technique on calls for illegal block above the waist and offensive holding on special teams.
The call Fisher disliked most came on the third play of the game when defensive end Chris Long was penalized for offside after tackle Lamar Holmes moved. Fisher said it was an example of “False Start 101.”
Instead of third-and-17 and a chance to give rookie punt returner Tavon Austin a chance to take off, it was third-and-7.
Matt Ryan hit Tony Gonzalez for an 11-yard gain and eight plays later they had the game’s first score on an 8-yard pass to Steven Jackson.
“You get off the field, get the ball back,” Fisher said. “You’re also talking about field position and a young punt returner that’s not backed up with his heels on the 8-yard line.
“He’s got a chance to put his hands on the ball.”
Fisher also thought officials missed an intentional grounding call on the Ryan out of the end zone in the third quarter. The Falcons had seven penalties for 53 yards.
Two calls Fisher thought the referees got right were holding on center Scott Wells in the third quarter and an illegal motion call on wide receiver Austin Pettis in the second quarter.
Softening the critique slightly, Fisher added: “By no means am I placing blame. I have great respect for the officiating department and the officials and work very close with them, and we move on.”
The first Bailey penalty pushed the Rams back to their 11 in the second quarter, and the second one pushed them back to the 13. Fisher said those calls drove home the point not to rush to judgment “unless I see the act.”
The Rams erased an 11-point deficit against Arizona in the opener. They trailed 21-0 early at Atlanta and twice cut the gap to a touchdown in the second half after going to a no-huddle, spread offense.
“I think it made a pretty big difference,” quarterback Sam Bradford said. “It seemed to just put them on their heels a little bit.”
So, there’s no quit.
“We just eliminated the mistakes,” tackle Jake Long said. “We just calmed down and started protecting, Sam was flinging the ball around and it was a little too late.”
Officiating was far from the lone culprit, with miscues canceling out big plays.
Austin caught two touchdown passes, but dropped two passes and missed some other reads.
“I could have had some big plays but didn’t,” Austin said. “So I blame myself for that. I will correct it, it is something that definitely will be corrected.”
Daryl Richardson’s dropped pass was intercepted and returned for a touchdown and Janoris Jenkins got burned for Julio Jones’ 81-yard score.
“I took my eye off of it,” Richardson said. “I was looking to run and I need to make sure I eyeball that ball and catch it.”
Fisher said he’d have more information Wednesday on the status of offensive tackle Rodger Saffold, who injured his left knee.
Backup safety Matt Daniels will undergo surgery this week for a fractured right ankle after kickoff returner Benny Cunningham rolled into him in the first quarter.