The St. Louis Rams visited Charlotte, NC in search of their third consecutive blowout win but found only frustration, dropping the game to the surging Carolina Panthers, 30-15.
Captain Munnerlyn intercepted a Sam Bradford pass on the first play of the game and ran it back 45 yards for a touchdown and the Panthers never looked back.
The Rams had to “ramp” up their scoring, starting with a safety when the Panthers began a drive inside their own 1-yard line after stopping a 4th and goal pass attempt. Everybody in the Universe knew RB Mike Tolbert was likely to get the ball and the Panthers’ offense obliged as he was stuffed behind the line, barely even able to reach the goal line and his forward progress short of it for two points for St. Louis.
Although the Panthers dominated play and the Rams were forced to play from behind the entire game, the big story of this particular match-up had little to do with the play on the field but with the action after the plays.
The Rams were flagged for five different personal foul penalties and Rams DE Chris Long was ejected in the third quarter for throwing a punch.
That was just the beginning, however. The Rams, coached by longtime NFL Head Coach Jeff Fisher, became completely unglued, acting like a bunch of spoiled kids.
Guard Harvey Dahl was especially insolent, drawing several flags for unsportsmanlike conduct and probably should have been ejected himself but wasn’t.
On a play where the not-so-fleet-footed Sam Bradford was running for the sideline, he was ushered out of bounds by Mike Mitchell in a legal and in fact relatively gentle shove. Bradford wound up injuring his left knee, and Dahl confronted Mitchell on the field.
For the Panthers part, they didn’t take the bait. Often, the Carolina players were standing there with their arms out while irate Rams players pushed, shoved, slapped, and acted all-around like toddlers who weren’t getting their way.
I lost any and all respect I had for the Rams and Head Coach Jeff Fisher today. While I can certainly understand emotions running high, professional ball players should carry themselves with more decorum than the Rams displayed and frankly I expected it from a Fisher-coached team.
None was forthcoming, however. In the second half, especially with the Rams’ offense on the field, just about every other play threatened to devolve into a temper-tantrum fueled melee by the Rams’ frustration. A seasoned coach like Fisher should have a LOT more control over his team than he apparently does, and now I can see why they themselves play with such a lack of consistency.
They’re little more than a bunch of thugs.