Faking injuries has long allowed NFL players to buy time without using timeouts. The Giants' Deon Grant appeared to fake one just as the Rams' offense was moving into scoring position. Grant got up and jogged off the field. The Giants' defense regrouped and limited the Rams to a field goal, just as they had on a previous St. Louis possession inside the Giants' 10-yard line.
The fact that the Rams complained about the Giants' tactics to the league office is not a big deal. Teams regularly complain to the league about matters related to officiating, sometimes as a matter of record more than out of any expectation the NFL will do anything about it. Update: Well, well. The league is now threatening to do something about it. We'll see about that. Sounds unenforceable.
In this case, the Rams' offense has struggled badly in the red zone throughout this young season. For all anyone knows, Grant's allegedly fake injury simply delayed another disappointing end to a Rams possession. The team has acknowledged its difficulties executing in the red zone and elsewhere. But in raising the issue with the league and making concerns public, the Rams raise awareness, possibly discouraging future opponents from using the tactic as obviously.
"They couldn't get subbed, they couldn't line up," Rams quarterback Sam Bradford told reporters. "Someone said, 'Someone go down, someone go down,' so someone just went down and grabbed a cramp."
That might have been the case, but little can be done about it.
"The Competition Committee deprecates feigning injuries, with subsequent withdrawal, to obtain a timeout without penalty," the rulebook states. "Coaches are urged to cooperate in discouraging this practice."
Rules require players to leave the game for one snap following an injury timeout, except when a regular timeout is called, the quarter ends, the two-minute warning arrives or in cases when the injury resulted from a personal foul by the opponent.
The rulebook instructs game officials to make no judgments about whether an injury is legitimate or not.
"If an official determines a player to be injured, or if attendants from the bench come on the field to assist an injured player, an injury timeout will be called by the referee," the rules state.
The rules outline a hypothetical situation as follows: "Runner A1 is tackled and appears injured since he does not move. ... Official should call timeout for injured player. Official should not try to determine if player is injured."
Rules change in the final two minutes of a half. Teams with timeouts remaining lose one unless their player's injury is caused by an opponent's foul or occurs when there is a turnover or field-goal attempt, or when the opponent calls timeout. Teams with no timeouts remaining are allowed one injury timeout in the final two minutes, but the referee can implement a 10-second clock runoff at the defensive team's discretion if an offensive player is injured . Subsequent injuries under these circumstances will carry five-yard penalties for delay, with the same stipulations for 10-second clock runoffs.
The injury timeout for Grant occurred with 4:04 remaining in the first quarter. By that time, the Rams had already failed to score a touchdown on an earlier possession despite having first-and-goal from the 1. They might be well served adding fake field goals to combat future fake injuries.