ST. LOUIS -- Although his team led the NFL in penalties accrued in 2012, Rams coach Jeff Fisher insisted that the deluge of infractions his team rang up in the preseason did not concern him entering the start of the real games.
Fisher's logic was sound. Many of the 42 accepted penalties the Rams had in the preseason were committed by players who wouldn't make the roster or were going to be inactive during the games.
In Sunday's 27-24 win against Arizona, the penalty issue didn't vanish, though, and the Rams nearly paid for it.
"I think we needed a wakeup call," end Chris Long said. "We had a lot of mistakes in the preseason and it carried over tonight so I think guys needed to see that if you don’t fix them, they’re not going away. We’ll focus on fixing those mistakes and the game can be a much different score."
All told, the Rams had seven penalties for 59 yards with three unnecessary roughness flags and another for taunting. Even when the Rams weren't drawing those 15-yard type flags, they were finding ways to make costly errors with other penalties. The team's opening drive was moving along well until a holding call went against left tackle Jake Long and right tackle Rodger Saffold garnered one for a false start.
Penalty issues in the preseason seemed to be a result of the team's relative youth but there were no such excuses for the Rams against the Cardinals. Cornerback Cortland Finnegan was the primary offender, picking up a pair of unnecessary roughness calls. He also had an illegal contact penalty that the Cardinals didn't accept.
As the veteran of the secondary, Finnegan is supposed to be the one to set the example for his younger teammates. Coincidentally, not a single rookie drew a penalty and all of the seven accepted penalties came from established veterans.
Finnegan, who is never one to shy away from being accountable, took the blame for his side of things and went so far as the say he would've put the blame on himself had the Rams lost.
"I just can’t do that," Finnegan said. "I’ve got them all out of my system. We’ve got 15 more (games), you won’t get another one out of me. I don’t want to hurt the team and I did that today. I’m glad we got a win so we have got to learn from that."
A quick roundup of all the coverage we had right here yesterday. ... Tight end Jared Cook set a franchise record for most receiving yards (141) by a tight end. ... Defensive end Robert Quinn had a big day of his own, showing that this may be the year he emerges as one of the league's elite pass-rushers. ... We revisited the three things to watch and documented how the Rams fared in those areas. ... Rapid reactions offered a quick take on what Sunday's game meant for the Rams, including a quick glance at what's to come. ... Locker room buzz provided instant reactions from a happy Rams locker room after the victory.
Stltoday.com columnist Jeff Gordon serves up his grades for the Rams from Sunday.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Bernie Miklasz gives his quick hit reaction to Sunday's game and suggests it's going to be a wild ride for this young team in 2013 (hard to disagree there).
The Associated Press offered its recap of the day's activities.
Fox Sports Midwest's Ben Frederickson gives his take on Cook's breakout performance.