ST. LOUIS (AP) -- After two games and two close setbacks by a total of six points, the long-downtrodden St. Louis Rams are still learning how to win.
Funny thing is, some of the mistakes that cost them dearly in a 16-14 loss at Oakland on Sunday were made by veterans who were supposed to lead the way, and not by kids whose missteps are more easily accepted.
"We certainly hurt ourselves with things that shouldn't have happened," coach Steve Spagnuolo said Monday.
The most egregious of the bunch: A personal foul penalty on defensive tackle Fred Robbins, who pushed quarterback Bruce Gradkowski to the ground late in the fourth quarter, allowing the Raiders to run out the clock. Cornerback Ron Bartell shoved a Raiders wide receiver long after the play ended for another personal foul.
The Rams (0-2) had eight penalties for 92 yards. That's way too many for any team, especially one whose offense was outgained 404-210.
"We do want our team to be aggressive," Spagnuolo said. "We've just got to be smart."
A sputtering offense led by No. 1 pick Sam Bradford also was to blame.
The Rams had the ball for 12 minutes, 31 seconds in their first three possessions and took the lead on a 7-yard pass from Bradford to Mark Clayton early in the second quarter. Steven Jackson had 112 yards in total offense in the first half, and Bradford was 9 for 11 for 119 yards.
Jackson had 8 yards on five carries the rest of the way, and Bradford was 5 for 14 for 48 yards. Bradford had one more hot run, though, hitting Danny Amendola for 16 yards and Clayton for an acrobatic 17-yard score that cut the deficit to two points with 3:18 to go.
"A couple of things in there he needed to do better, but he knows that," Spagnuolo said. "We couldn't get the ball back but I would have loved to have seen him have the opportunity at the end of the game to get us in field goal range."
Bradford and Jackson are hampered by the Rams' emphasis on short passes. There is not much speed at wide receiver, although Spagnuolo said the offense didn't necessarily need to stretch the field to be successful.
"We need to drive the ball better," he said. "That's a combination of a lot of things."
Spagnuolo wouldn't say if the Rams are interested in disgruntled Chargers wide receiver Vincent Jackson.
"Usually today is when we sit down and re-evaluate where we are with injuries, who's available and all those other things," Spagnuolo said.
Josh Brown shared goat horns with Robbins after missing a 36-yard field goal in the first quarter that could have made the difference. Brown said he perhaps was too casual in his approach.
"Had I done my job the one time I needed to do it, we'd be in a different situation," Brown said Monday. "Now, would the game play out the way it did? Who knows? But in the end that's the way it looks."
Rams defenders also dropped a few balls that looked to be sure interceptions.
Spagnuolo, 1-17 as coach of the Rams, tried to get this loss out of his system so he and the players could start preparing for Sunday's home game against the Washington Redskins.
"There's no frustration on my part; the game's over," Spagnuolo said. "You get a little frustrated during the game because you know there's plays out there we can make, or ways to turn that loss into a win.
"It's all about encouragement now, in my opinion. we're in there knocking out the mistakes."
Right now, he's not worried about sagging egos. But Spagnuolo said the true read will come on Wednesday when practice resumes.
"You get in, you take your medicine. We all do. You take your medicine when you win, too, because there's still mistakes," Spagnuolo said. "Then they get a day off, they kind of get away from it."
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)