ST. LOUIS — Rookie Rodney McLeod thought he'd made the key block to spring teammate Chris Givens loose for a 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.
Then he saw the yellow penalty flag sitting on the turf.
A penalty on McLeod for holding negated Givens' return late in the second quarter of the St. Louis Rams' 27-13 loss to the New York Jets on Sunday at the Edward Jones Dome.
"I latched onto his breast plate and kicked him out, and the next thing I know I saw the flag,'' McLeod said. "I thought I had my hands inside, I thought I made a great block to shed Chris Givens free, but the refs thought otherwise.
"That was just a big play in the game that we didn't get.''
The Rams also had a big return called back by a questionable penalty last Sunday.
Danny Amendola had a 62-yard punt return to the San Francisco 2 overturned because of an illegal block in the back last Sunday in 24-24 tie against the 49ers.
"The second consecutive week we had a long return called back because of a penalty,'' Rams coach Jeff Fisher said. "It certainly was a momentum thing for us.''
Instead of having a 14-13 lead over the Jets, the Rams went into the locker room at halftime trailing 13-7. They fell back 27-7 in the second half.
"We're not good enough to overcome those kind of things,'' Fisher said. 'You don't know what happens with the momentum change in that game if that works.''
Fisher said that he thought McLeod's block was legal after watching a replay of the kickoff return on the video board.
"It looked like hands were inside,'' Fisher said. "When a player throws his arms up like that sometimes it gets called. It didn't look to me like it was a egregious hold.''
Players are taught that if their hands are inside an opposing players' jersey, they're OK.
The Jets player that McLeod was blocking threw up his arms at the end of the block in a gesture meant to catch the attention of the officials.
"He said, 'I had to let him go,'" McLeod said. "I'm taught to finish my block all the way to the end, and that's what I thought I did.''
Givens didn't see the flag until after he'd reached the end zone.
"I'm disappointed just because it was a big play for our team, a big momentum booster,'' Givens said. "You can't think about it too much or dwell on it.
"Offensively, we had a lot of opportunities to put ourselves in the game. We just didn't take advantage of them.''
Fisher said linebacker Mario Haggans sustained a significant elbow injury.
"The only person who will miss some time will be Mario with the elbow,'' Fisher said.
Haggans was questionable for the game because of a thigh injury that kept him out of practice much of the week.
Haggans injured his elbow on a third play of the game, a 1-yard run by Jets quarterback Tim Tebow.
Miller among the inactives
Brit Miller, the only true fullback on the Rams' roster, was among the team's inactives.
Miller was inactive for the first time this season.
Tight end Lance Kendricks has lined up in the backfield as a blocker with increased frequency in recent games.
Tight end Cory Harkey also has been signed to the active roster from the practice squad.
The Rams' other inactives were safety Darian Stewart (knee), running back Terrance Hanaway, wide receiver Steve Smith, guard-tackle Chris Williams, defensive tackle Matt Conrath and quarterback Austin Davis.
* Tebow was a non-factor as he had two carries for minus-5 yards and completed a pass for minus-1 on a fake punt.
* With Brandon Gibson's 1-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter, the Rams now have scored on their opening drive in the last three games.
The last time they had three consecutive games of scoring on their opening drive was 2002.
* Janoris Jenkins' blocked field goal was the first by a Rams player since James Hall blocked a 49-yard field goal attempt by San Diego's Nate Kaeding on Oct. 17, 2010.
* Defensive end Chris Long had two sacks, giving him seven sacks on the season.
Contact reporter Steve Korte at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2522.