The Redskins levied two bruising hits on St. Louis punt returns and received two unnecessary roughness penalties, the first of which Shanahan contends was a bad call by officials.
Midway through the second quarter, Sav Rocca punted to the Rams’ 33-yard line. Fielding the punt, Austin Pettis was immediately hit by a flying Perry Riley and couldn’t hold onto the ball. Riley drew the flag and the Rams took over on their 41-yard line. Shanahan called it a “bang-bang situation.”
“I thought we gave him room to catch the ball and then we hit him. That’s one of the disadvantages of waiting until the last second if you’re going to catch,” Shanahan said. “We got to give him room to catch it. ...It looked to me on the replay that he hit him in the chest and he fumbled it.”
Said Riley: “I thought it was a bad call. I thought I was... under his chin. Maybe the crown of my helmet might have hit his helmet, but I mean, it’s football.”
In the final minute of the first half, Rocca sent a punt to the St. Louis 15. Again, Pettis didn’t call for a fair catch and again was hit immediately — this time by Niles Paul. Pettis fumbled the ball, but Paul was penalized for a helmet-to-helmet hit.
“I was running down there full speed and I was conscious that I don’t want to do a helmet-to-helmet shot,” Paul said. “So what I did, I was trying to time it up. I didn’t want to slow down because I’ve been taught to run through the returner. ...so I lowered my shoulder and tried to move my head to the side. He ended up getting low.
“It didn’t look like helmet-to-helmet to me,” Paul continued. “I didn’t think I hit him with my helmet.”