Rivalries can often times produce unexpected results. Although the St. Louis Rams came up short of a victory thanks to a Seattle Seahawks goal line stand to finish their first Monday Night Football appearance since 2006, the team showed it has more than enough mettle to compete during the stretch run even without its starting quarterback.
Many expected this game to have lopsided written all over it with the 6-1 Seahawks visiting a 3-4 Rams team that appeared to be reeling, but the guts shown by the defense in St. Louis prevented that from being the case. The Rams gave up just 135 total yards of offense, 80 of which came on a third quarter touchdown pass from Russell Wilson to Golden Tate. The stingy play from the defense was obvious with Seattle gaining just seven first downs and the incomparable Marshawn Lynch rushing just eight times for 23 yards.
Where the Rams really came alive was in an area many thought would be impressive all season long. The pass rush just teed off on Wilson in the pocket all night long as St. Louis’ pass rushing duo of Chris Long and Robert Quinn secured three sacks each. Rotational defensive end William Hayes added another take down of the Seattle signal caller as the Rams just lived in the Seahawks’ backfield.
The defense may have been the primary reason for the team’s near miss in a 14-9 defeat on Monday night, but the ball control offense also played a big role in their feisty effort. Rookie running back Zac Stacy had his absolute best showing of the season against one of the toughest defenses the Rams have faced to date. His 26 carries for 134 yards came on powerful, downhill runs that fit perfectly with a Jeff Fisher coached football team. Adding Daryl Richardson’s lateral quickness in as a complementary piece with eight totes for 39 yards is the ideal recipe to continue succeeding with Sam Bradford on the shelf. Unfortunately Stacy’s late-game ankle sprain really puts a damper on the success he had during the night. He may now miss some time and seriously diminish the Rams’ hopes of doing much damage on the ground moving forward.
And though Kellen Clemens’ numbers weren’t impressive going 15-for-31 for 158 yards with two interceptions, his gritty style and leadership were huge positives for the team to build on moving forward. There is no way a 31 year old journeyman is the future of this franchise, but a quarterback in his game managing mold might be just what the Rams need. Despite being under siege due to a porous offensive line, Clemens made the most of his limited mobility by scrambling to pick up key first downs. Even one of his aforementioned interceptions was not his fault as the intended receiver, Austin Pettis, fell down on his route.
This season isn’t going to be what Rams’ fans dreamed of just a couple of months ago, but it is in no way a lost cause just yet. This team has more fight than many expected and could conceivably put together a late-season playoff push even without their starter under center if they continue to show the effort from Monday night. One thing is for sure; no team can look on their schedule and consider the Rams an easy win for the rest of this year.