Monday’s night game between Seattle and St. Louis proved just how close games can be and how one small play can change the outlook of the NFL. Sure, the Seahawks did uphold a final goal line stand that kept the Rams out of the end zone, but had Daryl Richardson scored on the third and goal that he was stopped on, we’d be looking at a two-loss Seattle team that has had its fair share of close games lately. Instead, despite a really solid showing by the Rams, the Seahawks move to 7-1 and get a major win over an NFC opponent to stay one game ahead of the 49ers.
Coming into Monday’s game, the Rams were pretty much all but written off. And with the World Series being played across the street at Busch Stadium, even fans in St. Louis didn’t put much emphasis on the Rams first Monday night home game since 2006. Instead, the Rams, led by Kellen Clemens in place of the injured Sam Bradford, outplayed the Seahawks in nearly every category. They had 71 plays to the Seahawks 40, 23 first downs to only 7 for Seattle, 339 total yards to 135 and controlled the ball for just over 38-minutes. But despite Seattle letting St. Louis stay in the game, it didn’t make a difference in the end. Clemens and the Rams started out on a 97-yard drive with just over a minute left. Unfortunately, they only made it 96-yards and were stopped short in the final seconds.
As for the Seahawks, they surely didn’t play to expectation. They did score on a touchdown pass from Russell Wilson to Golden Tate, although Tate was flagged on the play for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for taunting Rodney McLeod as he trotted to the end zone. Tate scored on another play as well, as the receiver quarterback combo accounted for all of the Seahawks points.
Russell Wilson was sacked seven times, with pass protection becoming a problem that keeps getting worse. And the run blocking wasn’t any better.
“We had a million problems in protection,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “The Rams rushed like crazy and we did a ton of stuff to try to offset it, but nothing helped us.”
The Rams have a solid pass rush, led by defensive ends Robert Quinn and Chris Long, who had three sacks each. And yes, the Seahawks’ offensive line will get better when tackles Russell Okung and Breno Giacomini return from injuries.
But if you think that’s the cure-all, you are mistaken. The entire line needs to get miles better if this team is going to win the NFC West and possibly reach the Super Bowl.
Wilson can’t continue to take this much punishment and remain uninjured. The Seahawks will not beat good teams — like upcoming opponents New Orleans and San Francisco — with an offensive line that gets manhandled at the line of scrimmage.
The Rams had 23 first down to Seattle’s seven. St. Louis, playing backup quarterback Kellen Clemens, had 339 yards of offense to Seattle’s 135 yards.
And 80 of those yards came on one play, the big play by receiver Golden Tate. Sadly, it will be remembered more for his childish taunting than for his exceptional athletic move to come up with the ball. As Tate raced for the end zone, he stuck out his hands to St. Louis safety Rodney McCleod, moving his fingers as if to say, “Don’t yap.” McLeod almost ran Tate down in the process. The display drew a 15-yard penalty for taunting that was enforced on the ensuing kickoff.
“That is not the way we want to play,” Carroll said. “That is not who we are. He is more mature than that. He is a playful, spirited guy who had too much fun at the wrong time. It was not the right thing to do and he knew it.”
Tate, who also had a 2-yard TD catch for Seattle’s other score, said it was a lesson learned and he apologized to his teammates. But there are no apologies for the offensive line.
Even though they lost, the Rams should feel confident about how they played. Without Sam Bradford, they stayed in the game with one of the top teams in the NFL. They were also led by Zac Stacy, who had 134-yards rushing for a career high. And considering how lopsided the statistics were for the game as a whole, that has to be seen as an accomplishment as well. Although being in the NFC West where the top spot is most likely up to the Seahawks and 49ers to fight for, it may not matter for the Rams.
The Rams will play the Titans this upcoming weekend, while the Seahawks will play the winless Buccaneers.