Late in the third quarter of yesterday's game, something notable happened. I mean really notable.
After Zac Stacy ran the ball on 3rd and 12 to give Jonny Hekker some extra room to punt, Arizona DT Darnell Dockett stepped on Rams OL Chris Williams' hand. Purposefully. Blatantly. Watch it for yourself.
No flags were thrown. Thanks to the professionalism of some of Dockett's teammates who removed him from the developing scrum, there wasn't much of a confrontation to deal with. In fact, it was a largely forgettable sequence in and of itself. Forget that the NFL will have to deal with Dockett in some manner. As the link to the video above notes, Ndamukong Suh was suspended for two games for stomping on an opponent's arm in 2011. Granted, Suh has a history, but Dockett's not without one. That's not the point here.
The point is that the referees didn't see it. And while both Chris Williams and newly appointed center Tim Barnes were none too pleased, Rodger Saffold interrupted the situation and everyone moved on. But this is what doesn't get seen. For all the Rams' penalties, including the BS ones, there are the little plays that we never notice that set players' emotions to broil. On the top rack.
If Chris Williams had lost it and gone off on Dockett earning an unsportsmanlike penalty in the process, it would be another installment of the "The Rams Can't Keep Their Emotions In Check Show." Yesterday, Rams fans were served up some incredibly dubious calls in the first half. This play in and of itself is a reminder of the importance of gamesmanship.
It sounds callous, but one of the things the Rams have to work on this offseason...is working the referees. It's no coincidence that every week the Rams are getting called for some very incidental transgressions. The sample size is too big at this point.
It's sad that we don't have the quality of officiating the sport deserves, but if the Rams aren't dealing with reality, then a reality check needs to be put on the offseason schedule too. Jeff Triplette still has his job, and nobody knows what that job is because it's not refereeing.
So as we wind down another season without postseason football, it's worth remembering the Dockett play. The Rams are on the receiving end. They're stuck having to accept things for what they are instead of making their own circumstances bear out.
That has to change if this team wants to succeed.