St. Louis Rams coach Jeff Fisher had the end of Sunday's game mapped out. Let the clock run down to the two-minute warning, then send running back Steven Jackson off tackle to burn more time, before kicking the go-ahead field goal.
Then Fisher watched the clock, frozen at 2:38 for several seconds, as the 40-second play clock wound down.
The NFL has admitted that a mistake by the Ford Field clock operator in the Rams' last-second 27-23 loss basically gave the host Detroit Lions an extra timeout. Perhaps the Lions still would have won the game, but the miscue certainly changed how the finish played out.
"In essence, Detroit was granted an extra timeout, I guess, if you want to look at it from our perspective," Fisher said Monday.
"There was an error, I did report it to the league, and that's all I can do."
After the league's weekly review of game tape, Greg Aiello, the NFL's senior vice president of communications, said the clock was stopped incorrectly.
"It was a mistake by the clock operator," Aiello wrote in an email to NFL.com and NFL Network. "He stopped the clock incorrectly. The officials did not signal for it to stop. The game clock was three seconds behind where it should have been. The play was over at 2:39, and the 40-second clock was running at that point but the game clock stopped incorrectly for a few seconds."
The Rams were set to run on third down after the two-minute warning, forcing the Lions to use their final timeout. Instead, the Rams had to call a timeout with 2:03 left, Bradford threw an incomplete pass and Greg Zuerlein kicked a go-ahead 46-yard field goal on the first play after the two-minute warning.
So, the Lions had 1:55 to work with on their final drive, running nine plays with time to spare. Stafford completed three passes over the middle, and Detroit used its final timeout with 35 seconds to go on a drive capped by Kevin Smith's 5-yard touchdown catch with 10 seconds to go.
Starting the final possession with 1:55 or less remaining and no timeouts and with 80 yards to go, Stafford would have had to work the sideline to conserve time.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.