After Sunday’s close loss to the Chargers, Rams coach Jeff Fisher said he had trouble “dealing with the officiating crew.”
Fisher didn’t elaborate on his complaints, but he seemed to be unhappy with a sequence of events that took place late in the game when Tavon Austin returned a punt 76 yards to the 2-yard line, setting up the Rams in great position to score a game-winning touchdown. That return was called back on a holding penalty, and it was clear that the officials were very confused by that penalty.
First, referee Carl Scheffers announced the penalty on No. 51, Marshall McFadden, even though it looked like they were actually throwing the flag on No. 31, Maurice Alexander. That’s a mistake, although not a game-changing one.
More significantly, the officials didn’t seem clear on what the penalty was and how it should be properly enforced as an offsetting penalty, as the Chargers also had a penalty on the punt return. The officials took about four minutes to figure it out, initially saying the ball would be spotted where Austin fielded the punt — the Rams’ 22-yard line — before changing their minds and saying the ball would be spotted where the Rams committed the penalty — the Chargers’ 40. That’s a 38-yard difference.
Why did it take them four minutes, and why did they change their minds and spot the ball 38 yards forward? It appeared that it was Fisher, a longtime member of the Competition Committee, who had to explain the proper enforcement of the offsetting penalties to the confused officials.
Fisher also was baffled by a neutral-zone infraction called on the Rams’ field goal team on a play when the Chargers blocked the Rams’ kick.
“Our field goal team interlocks their legs,” Fisher said. “It’s nearly impossible to have one of your protectors in the neutral zone. . . . I’ve never heard that ever called before.”
It was a tough loss for Fisher to swallow. Made tougher by the officials.