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Ram Notebook : Like Old Days, Hatcher Booms 'Em

October 20, 1986

It's been an unsettling season for Ram punter Dale Hatcher. He's been forced to work with three snappers--Ed Brady, Jim Laughlin and Mike McDonald--and all have had their problems, prompting Hatcher to say that he's not sure if he's a punter or a shortstop.

Even more disconcerting has been the coaching staff's request that he punt the ball higher and shorter to allow the coverage to get to the return man.

As a result, Hatcher has been inconsistent. Last week, he hit rock bottom, averaging 27 yards a punt against Atlanta.

Sunday, Hatcher stopped worrying about the coverage and the results were obvious. He punted nine times, including a 57-yarder, and averaged 42 yards.

The Rams may have jumped to a quick lead, but it wasn't because an effective offense.

With two minutes left in the quarter, the Rams had more points (seven) than yards (three). And they were averaging 18 inches a play.

Detroit trailed, 14-0, at halftime, but the Lions led in time of possession, 21:56 to 8:06.

How Soon They Forget Dept.: A scoreboard message in the first quarter relayed a Big A welcome to CBS broadcasters Verne Lundquist and Pat Hoaden (sic). Haden, a former Ram quarterback, never was given much respect, anyway. The biggest cheers he ever got in the stadium came after he broke his finger.

But at least the fans knew how to spell his name.

The Detroit Lions ran 78 plays to the Rams' 50 and outgained the Rams, 372 yards to 200, yet lost.

Is that a frustrating way to spend a Sunday afternoon?

"There's no question it's frustrating," Coach Darryl Rogers said. "We made a lot of short completions, but we weren't able to burn 'em with anything."

The Rams, with Steve Bartkowski throwing only 12 passes, hardly opened themselves up, but that didn't surprise Rogers.

"I thought that was their offense," Rogers said. "They did their offense and, you know what, we did ours."

Lion running back James Jones rushed 10 times for only 29 yards but caught 8 passes for 46.

"We just couldn't get in the end zone," he said.

Until Eric Hipple passed nine yards to Jeff Chadwick late in the game, the nearest the Lions came to a touchdown was when Jones fumbled at the Rams' two-yard line. Ram safety Johnnie Johnson forced the ball loose and linebacker Mel Owens recovered.

"He (Johnson) just pulled it out," Jones said. "It was a good play."

That was Jones' only misplay; the Rams' Eric Dickerson lost two fumbles.

"I don't think he's feeling as bad as I am," Jones said. "They won."

Times staff writers Chris Dufresne, Rich Roberts and John Weyler contributed to this story.

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