For 58 minutes the St. Louis Rams managed to keep pace with the hottest team in the NFL. Jeff Fisher's defense harassed rookie quarterback Russell Wilson to the tune of six quarterback sacks and seven quarterback hits.
Defensive end Chris Long led the charge with three sacks and three hits. Fellow defensive ends Robert Quinn and William Hayes each had a sack of their own, while outside linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar had two huge pressures of his own.
Ultimately, St. Louis' defensive effort didn't prove to be enough on the Seahawks final drive of the game. Seattle spanned 90 yards on 10 plays and converted one long pass on third down to keep the drive alive.
Wide receiver Golden Tate caught a 44-yard bomb down the right sideline to put the 'Hawks in scoring range. From that point on Seattle ran five more plays and eventually ended up scoring on a one-yard run from No. 3.
The play was a designed play-action pass that gave Wilson more than one option in the end zone. However, the rookie out of Wisconsin made the smart choice by tucking the ball away and sprinting to the left end of the end zone for a score.
The touchdown run put the Rams down by seven with 1:39 left to play. If St. Louis wanted to secure their first winning season since 2003, they would need a few late-game heroics of their own to pull off the victory.
Things started well on the very first play of the drive.
Seahawks cornerback Byron Maxwell was flagged with a 25-yard pass interference penalty that advanced the ball to the Rams 45-yard line. One play later, Bradford throws a strike to tight end Lance Kendricks for 15 more yards.
Brian Schottenheimer's offense was just 40 yards away from tying the game up. Yet, two of the next three plays were incomplete passes that forced a crucial 4th-and-5. The Rams needed five yards for a first down and Bradford scrambled for six.
Now, it was only 29 yards that stood in St. Louis' way. Three straight passes ended up in the dirt, which brought up another fourth-down conversion opportunity. This time things didn't go as well as before—No. 8 launched a deep pass down the right sideline for Austin Pettis, but standout corner Richard Sherman left Chris Givens in coverage and undercut the route for his eighth pick of the season.
Everything has gone Seattle's way the last three weeks and today was no different. They executed on third down, they protected the football and controlled the clock. Unfortunately for the Rams, they manged to do neither of those three things at any point.
Yet, not all was lost.
The 2012 season was a great success compared to 2011 and with a mound of draft picks coming in the 2013, the arrow is only pointing up on this franchise. The pieces are firmly in place heading into next year—St. Louis just needs to keep building on what they have all ready started.