The St. Louis Rams and Seattle Seahawks entered the season finale as two of the most penalized teams in football. The trend did not change as the Rams were flagged 12 times on Sunday. The majority of those penalties were the direct result of lost tempers and a team spiraling out of control. In addition to the post-play antics, the Rams faced their second ejection of the season as they went on to lose 27-9 in an embarrassing effort.
The officiating crew lost control of the game early and were left trying to recover from their lack of authority over both teams. Players were pushing, shoving and mouthing from the first kickoff with feeble attempts of the crew to get both teams focused on the game at hand, scattering flags all over the field.
There were 19 total penalties called against both teams on Sunday. It is hard to believe that the Rams were completely at fault for every post-play argument or skirmish, but the officiating crew had no trouble doing just that.
Emotions started to reach a peak when rookie Alec Ogletree was assessed an unnecessary roughness penalty for shoving Marshawn Lynch out of bounds, sparking a ruckus on the Seahawks’ sideline. The reason for the late shove was Lynch continuing to stiff arm the bare face of Trumaine Johnson after he had already flipped Johnson’s helmet off with a brutal stiff arm.
Should Ogletree have hit Lynch at that point? No, probably not, but it is football and you have to stand up for your teammates. If the offensive player had lost his helmet, the play would have been immediately called dead. When you are a defensive player, you can’t put your hands on the mask of an offensive player, or else you receive a penalty.
The NFL doesn’t care too much about the defense getting the brunt of any attack, placing a focus on protecting offensive players because they are the ones that make money.
Immediately following that play was Rams DT Kendall Langford‘s ejection for inadvertently hitting an official. Langford’s right arm knocked the hat off of an official that was standing behind him while he was focused on the trash-talking party that was happening right in front of him. It was too late for the officials to try and be objective about the situation, and he was gone before he even knew it.
Langford didn’t even realize he was tossed until it was explained to him. His accidental contact with an official shouldn’t have got him ejected, but his helmet-tossing fit definitely deserved it. It shouldn’t have came to that had the officials paid attention to what was happening and where the official was at when he was hit.
It’s not like Langford knew that the official was standing directly behind him as he argued with the Seahawks’ offensive players, and the referees came crashing in like police on a high school party.
It was a tough, brutal game for Rams fans to endure and they will go into the offseason with a sour taste in their mouths. The Rams still need to be more disciplined in their post-play antics and know where the line is. Failure to control their emotions has happened before during this season when Chris Long was ejected for throwing a punch in Carolina.
Call it a season-long learning lesson for the youngest team in the NFL if you want, but the Rams have to control themselves in order to avoid the downward spiral of penalties next season.