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ByHoward Balzerfor KSDK Sports

(KSDK Sports) -- The NFL office will be quite busy this week when they review the numerous plays from the Rams game against the Panthers that turned the game into an embarrassment for the NFL. Fines will likely be plentiful.

However, the real question is how closely the league's officiating department will review the pitiful performance of its men in striped shirts that allowed the game to get out of hand. If they do, we won't know about it.

The taunting penalties that are in the rulebook are designed to prevent what happened on the field Sunday. However, when taunting is tacitly allowed while frequent and over-the-line instigating is ignored, the result will be what was witnessed Sunday and led to the Rams likely having lost quarterback Sam Bradford for the season with a torn ACL.

The Rams certainly allowed their emotions to get out of hand during the 30-15 loss to Carolina. However, it seems evident that was the Panthers' game plan, and in that they succeeded.

Yet, inexplicably, Panthers players actually claimed to have taken the high road during the game.

Said cornerback Captain Munnerlyn, "It was a great bonding game. We kept our heads. Sometimes you have to step away in this game and don't get a personal foul."

Added safety Mike Mitchell, who probably ended Bradford's season with an unnecessary hit and then celebrated in front of the Rams while Bradford was writhing in pain, "We did a good job of being the more composed team. We had to play disciplined. They wanted to try to pick a fight with us."

Supposedly, Munnerlyn and Mitchell uttered those words with a straight face.

Then, there was serial instigator Steve Smith, who told a Carolina reporter, "Janoris Jenkins was talking trash about my family. If I see him in the streets, I'll punch him in his f-ing) mouth."

In the third quarter, with the Panthers leading 20-12, Smith, without provocation, hit Jenkins in the head with an official standing right there. No call. On the next play, Smith caught a pass, broke a tackle attempt by Jenkins, and scored a touchdown. As he was crossing the goal line, Smith turned and pointed at Jenkins, a clear taunt. Once again, no penalty.

Earlier in the quarter, a huge fight on the field with multiple players involved ended with Rams defensive end Chris Long being ejected. Somehow, he was the only player the officials saw fit to penalize. Long was already frustrated by an encroachment penalty called two plays earlier. On third-and-3 from the Rams 44-yard line and the score 17-5, Carolina right guard Chris Scott was clearly guilty of a false start.

At one point, Rams defensive tackle Kendall Langford, who was drawn offside with Long on the play, could be seen clapping as he apparently heard the officials say it was a false start. However, after a delay and discussion, it became encroachment and a first down. Long could be seen waving wildly and yelling at an official.

Later, Long said he apologized to his teammates, while saying, "When my teammates are in trouble, I'll always stick up for them. I'm not sorry for that, but I am sorry for losing my cool.

"I play this game with a lot of emotion. I won't change that, but there has to be a point where I can reel it in and I can't let people provoke me."

While Long isn't wrong, it can also be hard to be constantly provoked and have it be ignored by those assigned to control it.

*The officials missed a clear hit to the head of wide receiver Brian Quick when he was defenseless after a pass to him wasn't caught.

*In the fourth quarter, Rams guard Harvey Dahl was rightly penalized when he blocked a Panthers player to the ground after a play was over. However, Panthers tackle Byron Bell later did the same to Rams defensive end Eugene Sims (although Sims didn't go to the ground), but wasn't flagged.

*Quick was penalized when he retaliated after being pushed from behind after a play by two different Carolina players.

*Dahl, of course, went out of his mind on the play when Bradford got injured. He first grabbed Mitchell from behind when Mitchell had his arms stretched wide as if he had actually made a good play after Bradford was headed straight for the sideline and was clearly giving himself up. Amazingly, the officials missed that.

Then, when Dahl realized Bradford was injured, he raced back onto the field to go after Mitchell again and this time was penalized.

Coach Jeff Fisher had no issues with Dahl's actions. Said Fisher, "Harvey doesn't like that especially when it's low and the player is taunting. I don't disagree with that. Harvey is going to protect his quarterback."

Unfortunately, on a day that was a black eye for the National Football League, the officials weren't able to protect anyone.

Howard Balzer will be contributing to KSDK Sports throughout the 2013 season. Howard hosts PrimeTime Monday-Friday from 6-8 pm on CBS Sports 920. He is also a host on SiriusXM NFL radio and one of 44 selectors for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

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