Plays that shaped the Rams' season: No. 8

January, 22, 2014
Jan 22
10:30
AM ET
ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis Rams finished the 2013 season second in the NFL in total penalties with 121, trailing only the NFC West division rival Seattle Seahawks.

Considering the Seahawks led the NFL with 128 infractions, one would think their penalty problems would have an adverse effect on their record. But the difference between the Rams and Seahawks came down to the simple fact that Seattle was good enough to overcome its mistakes and the Rams weren't.

Never was that more evident than the final week of the season when the Rams drew 12 flags for 87 yards and those were just the penalties that were accepted. The game turned into an ugly 27-9 Seattle victory in which the Rams regularly lost their cool as the Seahawks pushed them over the edge without joining them in that free fall.

Granted, some of the calls were questionable as many around the league are week to week, but the season finale served more as a culmination of a consistent issue for the Rams' season.

Since the purpose of this list is to offer individual plays that shaped the season, you can pick any individual infraction from this game you choose. You can take the unsportsmanlike conduct penalties on Ray-Ray Armstrong or offsides from defensive end Chris Long or the helmet slam from defensive tackle Kendall Langford in frustration after he was ejected for accidentally making contact with an official.

Whichever penalty you choose to point to, be it from this game or any other during the season, the story of the 2013 season can't be told without mentioning the various silly infractions the Rams continued to rack up every week. Those penalties seemed to skyrocket when the Rams took on physical teams such as their division foes.

In the final three games the Rams played on the road against their NFC West opponents, they combined for 34 penalties for 282 yards. The Rams' 1-5 record in the NFC West represents a major obstacle for team moving forward. Although emotion figures to remain a fixture in those divisional match ups, the Rams are going to have figure a way to control themselves better than they did in the season's final week to catch up.

Nick Wagoner

ESPN St. Louis Rams reporter

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