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Thursday, November 24, 2011
NFC West Penalty Watch: Mugging WRs

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

The St. Louis Rams trailed the Seattle Seahawks by three points when they sent Brandon Lloyd up the left sideline on a deep route against Brandon Browner.

Browner, the Seahawks' 6-foot-4 cornerback, gave no cushion at the line of scrimmage. Video replays showed his toes practically touching the blue stripe signifying the line of scrimmage. Browner was even closer to Lloyd when the pass from Sam Bradford arrived. Browner smothered Lloyd as he played the ball, breaking up the pass.



There was contact, and lots of it, but no penalty -- not this time, anyway.

Similar scenes have played out throughout the NFC West this season. With virtually no help from the San Francisco 49ers, the division has become the land of illegal contact and defensive pass interference.

It's a place where opposing receivers can expect rough treatment, particularly when facing Browner and the Arizona Cardinals' Patrick Peterson. Each of those corners has six penalties for illegal contact or defensive pass interference this season. Each has brought a physical brand of coverage to his team.

The two biggest safeties in the division, Arizona's Adrian Wilson and Seattle's Kam Chancellor, each have two such penalties.

Officials have flagged the Cardinals 15 times and assessed 183 yards against them for illegal contact and defensive pass interference this season. Both totals are league highs, according to ESPN Stats & Information. The Seahawks rank second with 12 such penalties (for 103 yards, which ranks seventh).

The Rams rank seventh with eight such penalties. The 49ers have only three, tied with Kansas City and Chicago for second-fewest in the league behind the New York Giants (two).