A slow-starting offense and suddenly porous defense were not the only problems for the Rams in their 55-40 loss to Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday at the Coliseum.
The Rams were penalized 13 times for 106 yards.
And don’t blame young offensive linemen.
Veteran left tackle Andrew Whitworth was twice flagged for holding, veteran right tackle Rob Havenstein was called twice for false starts, and veteran guard Austin Blythe also was flagged for a false start.
Wide receiver Robert Woods drew a penalty for unnecessary roughness, wide receiver Brandin Cooks was cited for pass interference, and defensive lineman Michael Brockers was called for roughing the passer.
“Until you get a chance to kind of look inward, figure out exactly what resulted in those, what was occurring, it’s hard to specifically put my finger on one thing,” Rams coach Sean McVay said when asked about penalties by veteran players. “But there were some things that were very uncharacteristic and things that we can’t do moving forward.”
The Buccaneers were penalized 12 times for 99 yards.
Early in the fourth quarter, Buccaneers receiver Mike Evans broke past Rams cornerback Marcus Peters and caught a 67-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Jameis Winston.
A few minutes later, Peters intercepted a pass by Winston and returned it 32 yards for a touchdown to pull the Rams to within five points. The interception was Peters’ first this season.
The Rams, however, could not overcome an early 21-point deficit.
“I’m glad he’s on the board,” said safety John Johnson, who has two interceptions this season.
Buccaneers lineman Donovan Smith hit Peters as he crossed the goal line, and players gathered around him for a few moments before he left the field. Peters was evaluated for a concussion and was not made available to reporters after the game.
“It was a great pick and then an excellent run,” cornerback Aqib Talib said. “It actually gave us a chance.”
Return to form
Blythe and tight end Tyler Higbee returned to the starting lineup after sitting out the previous game against the Cleveland Browns because of injuries suffered on the same play during a Sept. 15 victory over the New Orleans Saints.
Higbee suffered a bruised lung when he landed on his back after attempting to catch a pass. Blythe suffered an ankle sprain. On Sunday, Higbee caught four passes for 41 yards.
Still going strong
Rams linebacker Clay Matthews had career-low 3½ sacks last season for the Green Bay Packers, but the 11-year veteran had a first-quarter sack against the Buccaneers, giving him five this season and 88½ in his career.
Nose tackle Sebastian Joseph-Day, a second-year pro, recorded his first career sack.
Buccaneers defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh, who played for the Rams last season, put an exclamation point on the Rams’ loss when he picked up a fumble and returned it 37 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.
It was Suh’s first touchdown since his rookie season in 2010, when he returned an interception and a fumble for touchdowns for the Detroit Lions.
“I don’t think anybody is going to catch Suh when he got a hold of that ball,” Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians said. “That was a great scoop and score.”
Starting Rams linebacker Bryce Hager left the game in the second quarter because of a neck injury, and rookie safety Taylor Rapp suffered an ankle injury during the third quarter.