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Inside an Upset: Did James Hall Block Cleveland’s Field Goal?

We like playing CSI here at RamsHerd, especially when strange things happen, like the Rams getting a win. The white lab coats, the sunglasses, the snappy dialog, and those millions of CBS viewers.

This week’s mystery: did the Browns lose that game, or did the Rams actually win it?

Central to the mystery is whether James Hall got a hand on the potential game-winning 22-yard field goal try by Cleveland. (Of course, there were nearly two minutes on the clock, but with Sam Bradford completely uninstalling his “Rams passing game” program from the Matrix in the fourth quarter, we all know those were going to be the game-winning points.) In his press conference today, when he wasn’t cataloguing the insanely long list of injuries his team has continued to pile up, Coach Spagnuolo made a definitive claim that Hall did get a piece of that ball.

CSI quip: “Looks like a bad snap got a bad rap.”

Let’s break down the game video, after the break.

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Coach Spagnuolo: “James Hall, Gary Gibson, they made an adjustment in their field goal blocking during the game.”

The Rams bunched four defensive linemen between the center and the first tight end on the line to the left of center, the same as they did in Cleveland’s initial field goal try. So if there was a wrinkle, it came after the snap.

CSI quip: “They say a wrinkle in time saves nine. Only in this case, it saved three.”

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Here we are, one second into the play, and even after the bad snap, the holder has the ball upright and in position. The snap itself got a lot of attention, after Alex Mack stepped on the ball as long snapper Ryan Pontbriand — a former Pro Bowler — tried to snap it. Now let’s look at Gibson (71) and Hall (96).

Instead of bull-rushing forward, Gibson dances backward and plants his hands on the guard and tackle, “helping” both to the ground. Meanwhile, Hall sidesteps the tackle’s reach block and knifes through the crease behind him.

CSI quip: You can go to the dance, but you’ve gotta have a partner if you want to score. Or… not score, I guess. (Somebody get me rewrite!)

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Now we get to the critical moment. As Dawson puts his foot through the ball, Hall flashes in front and appears to possibly get a hand on it. Did the bad snap, and Hall’s rush change the direction of the kick? Possibly. But if Hall actually touched it — and Spagnuolo hadn’t talked to Hall, and couldn’t confirm whether or not he had — it would explain the awkward sideways trajectory of the kick.

But this still is unclear. Let’s send it over to some antisocial tech geek to make it clearer.

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Uhhh… that’s totally not helpful at all. Sorry folks, I guess there’s only so much Photoshop can do.

We’ll have to file this one under “Unsolved Mysteries,” until it becomes a “Cold Case,” and then hopefully the league will sort it out.

CSI quip: 22 yards from victory, but a fingertip away from defeat. That’s the way the ball bounces in Cleveland.

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