A pair of curious coaching decisions played a pivotal role in the St. Louis Rams’ overtime loss at the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday.
Rams coach Jeff Fisher cited the swirling winds as a determining factor in opting for a two-point conversion late in the first quarter rather than have Greg Zuerlein attempt an extra point into the stiff breeze following his team’s first touchdown.
Fisher said he went for 2 partly for strategic reasons and partly due to wind.
“I felt like we were going to need as many scoring opportunities as we possibly can,” Fisher said. “And it was indicative of how the wind was. I liked what we had up, and I let the coaches know after I observed the wind. It’s a long kick, and it was pushing the ball around. Whether it worked out or not, I would do it again.”
Jeff Fisher won't kick an extra point but will kick a 61-yarder. Says something about the wind.
Rookie running back Todd Gurley was stuffed on the conversion attempt, a point that came back to haunt the Rams when the game went to overtime tied at 18-18. Fisher typically places an inordinate amount of trust in Zuerlein, which he showed by sending him out to attempt a successful 61-yard field goal in the second quarter – albeit with the wind.
"The wind definitely played a big role," said Zuerlein, who also has attempted 64- and 63-yard field goals this season. "We only scored six points going one way and all the other points in the game were scored going the other way, so I think that says a lot."
Fisher went a safer route with the wind in his favor late in the game, running Gurley up the middle on a third-and-11 situation to set up a 48-yard field goal that Zuerlein missed. St. Louis got the ball back and Zuerlein redeemed himself with a 53-yard boot to force overtime.
"Big picture, we felt confident defensively that we could get the ball back and have a chance perhaps to win the game in regulation," Fisher said of the conservative third-down call. "And then we missed the kick."