Hoping to heat up their offense with a return to the Edward Jones Dome on Sunday, the St. Louis Rams instead got a fire on the field.
That was not exactly the spark the struggling Rams team was looking for since it caused a delay of nearly 30 minutes. The commotion somehow seemed larger than anything done by the Rams’ offense during a 12-6 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The opening kickoff was delayed after a portion of the field near the 3-yard line of the south end zone caught fire during pregame introductions.
Rams players were running through their normal path that includes fire machines and fireworks when the small fire ignited. Officials used a fire extinguisher to quell the blaze, but that helped lead to the delay as workers used a vacuum, towels, mops and other tools trying to clean up residue from the extinguisher.
Players from both team had already completed their warmups, then had to return to the locker room during the delay. Was it a distraction to the players?
“I’m not sure,” Rams defensive end Chris Long said. “I’ve never been a part of something like that so I don’t know how we would have started without it. It was inconvenient, but you’re a professional.”
Rams coach Jeff Fisher consulted with stadium workers and game officials, also relying on his team physician to determine the toxicity of the materials used in the fire extinguisher that left the powdery residue.
We’re 1-2. The world’s not ending. We will figure it out.
Rams quarterback Nick Foles
“I thought it was handled properly,” Fisher said. “It was toxic and it was powder and so we had to get that up because it could cause irritations for the eye. Then when we realized it was going to take a little bit of time, it made sense for us to come in and relax and then come back out and re-stretch. So I thought the league handled everything very well from an officiating standpoint.”
Rams quarterback Nick Foles was asked several different ways about the team’s struggles, which included penalties, dropped passes, his own interception and other mistakes. Even several thousand fans in the stands from an announced crowd of 52,433 tickets distributed were wearing Steelers black and gold gear and waving their trademark Terrible Towels.
“We’re 1-2. The world’s not ending,” Foles said. “We will figure it out. We have a bunch of young guys that go to work every day and they want to get better and that’s what I see. “
Rams rookie running back Todd Gurley made his long-awaited NFL debut Sunday on a 2-yard carry in the first quarter. He didn’t make a lot of noise, finishing with nine yards on six carries and catching one pass for five yards, but just seeing the 10th overall pick in the 2015 draft on the field was progress.
It was the first on-field action for Gurley since suffering a knee injury last November that ended his junior year at the University of Georgia. He got word Saturday that he would be playing against the Steelers, so he made sure to get plenty of rest.
We gave ourselves a chance. Twelve points, you expect to win those. But they held us to six.
Rams defensive end Robert Quinn
“I definitely slept, I went to sleep at like 9:30 last night,” Gurley said. “I knew it was going to be a long day so I had to get ready. I had a good couple weeks of practice in. They asked me how I felt and it went on from there.”
Was it a matter of shaking off some rust?
“Nah, it’s the first game,” Gurley said. “I’ve got to get in the groove of things. I’m just looking forward to tomorrow, looking at film, seeing what we did wrong and just trying to get better next week.”
With two tackles in the first quarter Sunday, Rams linebacker James Laurinaitis passed Hall of Famer Merlin Olsen to become the leading tackler in franchise history. Olsen had the previous record with 915 tackles.
The team ran a video presentation highlighting the milestone on the stadium scoreboard a Laurinaitis’ streak of consecutive starts reached 98 games
A CASE FOR THE DEFENSE
Holding the dynamic Steelers offense that had been averaging 32 points through two games to just 12 points and one touchdown, an offense that lost star quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to injury in the third quarter, might have been good enough to win the game.
However, the Rams managed only two Greg Zuerlein field goals.
“Yeah, you would think that, but it was a defensive ball game,” Rams defensive end Robert Quinn said. “We gave ourselves a chance. Twelve points – you expect to win those. But, they held us to six. We’ve just got to do a little bit better.”
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
- Rams receiver Kenny Britt felt strongly that he had made a catch on fourth down to continue his team’s final drive and the officials originally ruled the play a catch as well. However, that decision was overruled after a video review as the Steelers took over possession and ran out the clock.
“(The official) told me that the ball definitely came loose,” Fisher said. “When the receiver goes to the ground you have to maintain possession of the ball. He said all the pictures that led up to that, the ball was loose. From what I saw, which I thought was what he saw, on the Jumbotron (scoreboard), you could make the case it was maybe inconclusive and then the call on the field stands.
“But he felt the ball was loose and that’s enough.”
- Rams wide receiver Brian Quick, who has said he’s 100 percent healthy, was on the team’s inactive list for the third straight game. Britt was the top receiver with seven catches for 102 yards Sunday, while Tavon Austin had five catches for 38 yards.