It's hardly fair that St. Louis Rams blockhead extraordinaire Richie Incognito gets all the press for his dumb, costly penalties against the Seahawks this week. The Rams offense committed more than enough penalties to go around, a collective effort at failure.
Huzah for team effort!
When offenses are performing up to par, they can absorb the occasional false start penalty. Not to excuse boneheadedness, but most teams can get five yards lost to a flag back on that same drive or execute on the next possession. Not the Rams of week 1.
There's plenty of talk about their woeful third down conversion rates, but take a look at what they did with first and second downs. In the first half, the Rams eked out 82 yards on 21 first and second down plays. That's an average gain of 3.9 yards per play. That includes a meaningless Steven Jackson run for 3 yards at the end of the first half that finished with Seattle declining Jackson's unnecessary roughness penalty before heading into the locker room.
The Rams offense had five penalties on first and second down, not including the call declined by Seattle mentioned above, for 40 yards. Incognito only earned two of those penalties. On the third drive of the game (and the Rams had penalties on all of their drives in the first half) Donnie Avery's holding call put the Rams at 2nd-and-12, before a Seattle offsides got five yards back, a pass to FB Mike Karney on 2nd-and-7 ended up incomplete and it was third-and-long.
On the next drive, the Rams overcame LG Jacob Bell's false start and started to get some momentum. Jackson's 10-yard run for a first down after Bell's flag was promptly followed by 16-yard pass to Avery. Four plays, three first downs, everything was coming up Milhouse...and then that team effort came into play.
3rd-and-1, Randy McMichael, false start
3rd-and-6, Marc Bulger, delay of game (that one's not on Bulger alone).
And, suddenly, you've got 3rd-and-11, an incomplete pass, then a botched field goal. At that point, you just knew what the final results would be. Seattle scored on the following possession.
Poor results on first and second downs set the Rams up to fail on third downs. Throw in the cascade of penalities, from several sources, and the final results should surprise none of us.