The NFL record for penalties in a game was 22; the St. Louis Rams and New York Giants combined for 21 penalties. Three players were ejected from the contest due to a brawl-like situation after a late hit out of bounds. I argue that T.J. McDonald should have been ejected as well, he launched at Odell Beckham but missed and gave a teammate a frightening head injury. The game was certainly chippy but did the Rams play dirty football?
The answer is unequivocally yes, the Rams did play dirty football. They were the antagonists, the instigators of childish sparring. The Giants are not completely innocent as I will discuss, but the instigators were undoubtedly the Rams. It is not surprising that a defense coached by Gregg Williams (Yes, he is the same Gregg Williams that was involved in the New Orleans Saints bounty-gate situation) would face allegations of inappropriate play.
Nov 30, 2014; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Rams defensive coordinator Gregg Williams before the game between the St. Louis Rams and the Oakland Raiders at the Edward Jones Dome. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
The madness took its first violent spiral out of control, when Alec Ogletree hit Beckham well after he ran out of bounds. The rookie receiver reacted in a visibly upset fashion that only escalated the situation. Many players flocked to the scene and St. Louis was witness to quite a skirmish.
The brawl was the culmination of many overly aggressive plays over the course of the game. The Rams seemed from my perspective to want extra curricular violence in the game, that is just my opinion for what it is worth.
The Rams’ defense plays with a reckless swagger. Much of the broadcast by Fox Sports was spent covering the disdain of Rams players towards the attention Beckham has garnered across the nation.
In a violent play afterwards, T.J. McDonald launched towards the head of Beckham using his helmet as a spear. McDonald missed his target who he clearly intended to do damage to. The kill-shot was received by rookie cornerback E.J. Gaines. The crowd watched in horror as Gaines’s helmet flew off from the hit. He was down on the ground for what seemed like a very long time and was carted off the field.
I often complain that the league has gone too far to protect players. In fact I cringe every time I hear the term “defenseless player.” You cannot regulate violence out of the game and many of the new rules do nothing to make the game safer.
The good thing about these rules is that it punishes behavior that the game has no place for. McDonald played reckless football. This was not simply a defender trying to make a play, this was a defender abandoning technique and risking his own safety and injuring another player.
The Giants added some fuel to the fire by getting caught up in the Rams immature and often against the rules antics. The Rams however were the clear propeller of the two inexcusable situations. I believe that several members of the Rams defense are guilty of playing dirty football. I love old school smash mouth football but there is a line, the Rams crossed that line.