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Daren Bates elevating his special-teams work

EARTH CITY, Mo. -- St. Louis Rams linebacker Daren Bates is unsure how many times he can replicate the timing of his leaping blocked field goal from the closing moments of last week's loss to the New York Giants. But he's certainly happy he was able to get it done at least once in a game.

"You have got to get it perfect," Bates said. "It was just perfect. I don’t know how many times I could do that out of 10 but it was just all I needed was that one. It was actually easier than you would think it would be."

Easy, of course, is a relative term when it comes to the play Bates is talking about. It's not too easy because what he did with about two minutes to go in the 37-27 loss has rarely been done around the league.

With the Rams trailing by 10 and looking to get the ball back, Giants kicker Josh Brown lined up for a 29-yard field goal. Before the snap, Bates started creeping toward the line and as long-snapper Zak DeOssie let the ball go, Bates was at full speed and cleanly hurdled him before landing on his feet and continuing toward the kick.

Brown's attempt never had a chance and hit Bates before it ever took off.

"You can’t really practice that in practice, somebody might get hurt," Bates said. "You just go off tendencies, indicators of the snapper or the holder or whoever it is and just try to make a play out there."

Bates had actually attempted to make that play earlier in the season against the San Francisco 49ers but he mistimed the jump and earned an offside penalty in the process. He said the key to the play is seeing tendencies on when the snap might come and getting the timing just right. The athletic part, apparently, is the easy part for Bates, who said he has always had a solid vertical jump but hasn't tested it since his pro day in 2013.

The play actually earned Bates a spot on top plays from the weekend on "SportsCenter," something he enjoyed as he heard from friends and family all over the country unaccustomed to seeing him on television.

Aside from losing the game, Bates said his only regret was that the ball took an awkward bounce rather than spinning forward where he could return it for a touchdown.

"That’s what I was expecting," Bates said. "I was trying to get the ball forward but the football is weird, it bounces any kind of way it wants to."

As Bates wraps up his second season in St. Louis, he's clearly established himself as one of the team's core special-teamers. He has nine special-teams tackles, which still trails Chase Reynolds in that category. But special-teams coach John Fassel has his own grading system for overall body of work and Bates recently moved into first place in the team in that regard in part because of his blocking ability on returns.

"I think I’m coming on," Bates said. "I want to do better, of course, each year I want to get better but as far as this year, I think I did greater than I did last year and got better in some kind of way. That’s all you can do."