ST. LOUIS (AP)—The normally soft-spoken Marc Bulger had to speak up: St. Louis had just lost to the Arizona Cardinals at home, and the Rams’ mistakes Sunday made it obvious to the quarterback that some of his teammates are no longer committed.
“I know there’s some guys in here who don’t care,” Bulger said after a 34-20 loss to Arizona that touched off a flurry of finger-pointing Sunday.
Prized by his coaches for his calm demeanor, the quarterback kept his voice down and didn’t single out anyone after the Rams (5-7) were whistled for a season-high 126 yards in penalties. What eats at Bulger, he said, is the repeated mistakes throughout the season.
“There’s more than one guy in this locker room that could care less that we’re losing, or thinks it’s OK to make mistakes,” he said. “When we get embarrassed and you think it’s OK and keep making the same mistakes, it’s not OK.”
Everything seemed OK for Arizona (3-9) on Sunday. Marcel Shipp scored three touchdowns, Edgerrin James had 115 yards rushing and Matt Leinart won for the second time in seven pro starts for Arizona, which made the most of the Rams’ mistakes to win for the first time on the road this season.
“I think we’re getting better every week,” said Leinart, who was 15-for-24 for 186 yards and one touchdown.
James’ 50th career 100-yard rushing game came against the NFL’s worst run defense. Shipp’s touchdowns were his first since 2002, when he was Arizona’s feature back.
James, who had 94 yards in the first meeting against the Rams in the third week of the season, didn’t mind his teammates finishing off drives.
“I had an opportunity to go in, and I said, ‘No, let Shipp go in,”’ James said, “because they’ve been so supportive of me in practice and everything.”
Bulger threw for 314 yards and two touchdowns, but also had three interceptions to add to woes that contributed to a sixth loss in seven games for the Rams. Bulger sounded as if some of the younger players were the target of his ire.
“When you won’t approach football like a job and think you’re just on scholarship, then that’s the problem,” Bulger said. “It seems like the same stuff comes up.”
The Rams’ biggest penalties were on defense, with two long pass interference calls leading directly to Cardinals scores. There were four penalties on offense, a 15-yard facemask call on rookie guard Mark Setterstrom, unnecessary roughness on second-year center Richie Incognito and false starts on second-year tackle Alex Barron and wide receiver Shaun McDonald.
Incognito doesn’t think Bulger was talking about him.
“I have no reaction to that. It’s not coming here,” Incognito said. “That wasn’t directed at me, so I don’t have anything to say about that.”
“I’m not pointing finger at certain people because I certainly didn’t play perfect and I haven’t been playing perfect,” Bulger said. “But like I said, I care. What bugs me is that there are some guys who don’t care.”
Defensive end Leonard Little, who leads the team with 10 sacks, took exception to Bulger’s outburst and said “dirty laundry” should not be aired.
“No time to point fingers, no time to dwell on anything,” Little said. “That’s his opinion. If he sees that, and he’s a leader on this team, he should approach that person, whoever it is, and get it squared away.”
The Rams held a closed-door meeting after the game and kept the media out for longer than the normal cooling-off period. Head coach Scott Linehan said it’s far too early to give up on the season.
“You can make the playoffs in this league at 8-8,” Linehan said. “Our season is not over. No way are we approaching it that way.”
But veteran left tackle Todd Steussie agrees with Bulger.
“I’m not talking about everybody by any means, but there are guys, repeat offenders, that I think their level of dedication is business-hours, and business-hours only,” Steussie said. “Unfortunately, we’ve got guys who continue to make the same mistakes and I feel like the understanding of the game plan isn’t where it needs to be with all guys.”
Two of the 10 calls against the Rams led to scores by Arizona on the next play. Larry Fitzgerald caught an 11-yard touchdown pass one play after a 34-yard pass interference on Fakhir Brown in the second quarter, and Shipp scored on a 6-yard run one play after Corey Chavous’ interference penalty meant a 27-yard gain for the Cardinals.
A third crucial penalty, a defensive holding call on Little, wiped out Ron Bartell’s interception in the end zone early in the fourth quarter to help the Cardinals put the game away.
The Cardinals nearly matched the Rams in penalties, getting whistled 11 times for 107 yards. None of them came at a significant cost.
James also topped 10,000 yards rushing for his career. He has 10,036 yards and ranks 19th on the career rushing list. … Bruce had five catches for 75 yards and has 867 career receptions, moving out of a tie with Jimmy Smith for seventh on the career list, and topped 13,000 receiving yards. … The last Cardinals runner to reach the century mark was Emmitt Smith, who notched 106 against the Seahawks on Oct. 24, 2004.