Vikings' to-do list: Fix the penalties

MINNEAPOLIS -- An examination of what the Minnesota Vikings must do after their win over the St. Louis Rams:

If there was one major issue emerging from the Vikings' 34-6 victory on Sunday, it was the team's share of penalties on a day when referee Ed Hochuli's crew tossed plenty of flags. The Vikings were penalized seven times for 60 yards, but the Rams gave away more than twice as many yards, committing 13 penalties for 121 yards in the loss.

The Rams' carelessness ultimately helped Minnesota win the game, but Vikings players and coach Mike Zimmer cited their own penalties as one of the major issues in need of fixing this week.

"In the first half, I felt we kind of self-destructed a little bit," Zimmer said. "We had too many penalties."

The Vikings had a 13-0 lead at halftime, after Josh Robinson's second-quarter interception helped set up a Matt Cassel touchdown pass to Greg Jennings, but in general, Zimmer thought his players were a little too amped up in the first two quarters of the season. He told them at halftime to calm down, and though it's worth noting the Rams declined three penalties in the second half, a holding call on Phil Loadholt was the only Vikings penalty the Rams accepted.

Zimmer has said several times he coaches Vikings defenders to avoid penalties, in light of the league's increased focus on contact with receivers. The Vikings had two illegal contact calls (on Jasper Brinkley and Jabari Price) declined, as well as a pass interference penalty on Robert Blanton, but in different circumstances, those penalties could have had costlier consequences. The penalties alone on Sunday were enough to keep defensive end Everson Griffen from calling the Vikings' defensive effort a dominating performance.

“It wasn’t dominating. We can play a lot better -- penalties, penalties can kill a team," Griffen said. "But we allowed ourselves to stay in the moment and execute our assignments, [and] still win the game.”