Seahawks vs. Rams: Takeaways from St. Louis' 14-9 Loss to Seattle
The Rams defense was outstanding, holding Marshawn Lynch to a measly 23 yards on the ground and harassing Russell Wilson with seven sacks, but Seattle's two touchdowns was all it needed for this low-scoring affair.
With backup quarterback Kellen Clemens in for the injured Sam Bradford, the Rams put the offense on the shoulders of rookie running back Zac Stacy, and he responded by shredding the Seattle defense for 134 rushing yards.
Regardless of Stacy's production on the ground, the Rams were unable to find the end zone. They had an opportunity to take the lead at the goal line in the final seconds, but questionable play-calling prevented a touchdown.
Here are my takeaways from this narrow loss...
St. Louis Is Not a Baseball-Only Town
The St. Louis Cardinals are a great MLB franchise with a top-notch fanbase, so referring to the city of St. Louis has a "baseball town" has become a mantra for the national media.
It's nonsense. Game 5 of the World Series, which was held just down the street from the Edward Jones Dome, was expected to draw fans away from the Rams and leave the dome empty, but that was far from the case.
The dome was far from packed, but Rams fans had a solid presence considering the circumstances. They were loud and made their enthusiasm known.
If the St. Louis fans can make a solid showing for the Rams in this scenario, imagine what they'll do for a winning team.
Zac Stacy Entered Beast Mode
St. Louis averaged an abysmal 47.2 rushing yards per game throughout the first four games of the season, but rookie Zac Stacy has elevated the run game.
Stacy took over the starting job in Week 5 against Jacksonville and immediately upgraded a ground attack that was beyond pathetic. He averaged over 71 yards a game in his first three starts.
Stacy had 35 rushing yards in the first quarter against Seattle, and that total reached 76 yards at halftime. By the end of the game, Stacy had a career-high 134 yards on the ground.
The Rams have found their replacement for Steven Jackson. Stacy is the real deal.
Robert Quinn Is Still in the Running for Deacon Jones Award
Following the death of former Rams great Deacon Jones, the NFL appropriately decided to create a new award for the annual league leader in sacks—the Deacon Jones Award.
How appropriate would it be for the first annual award to be granted to a Rams player?
Thanks to Robert Quinn, who had a phenomenal three-sack performance against Seattle, it's a real possibility.
Quinn now has 10 sacks after eight games—putting him on pace for 20 on the season.
Quinn currently ranks fourth in the NFL behind Robert Mathis (11.5), Justin Houston (11.0) and Mario Williams (11.0). Last year's sack leader was J.J. Watt, who finished with 20.5.
At the very least, he's in the race.
Kellen Clemens Will Be Shaky Moving Forward
How discouraged must you be if you're a member of the Rams defense?
The St. Louis defense gave a top-notch effort and kept the Rams in the game, but the lifeless offense gave them no chance.
The offensive struggles clearly cannot be blamed on Stacy, as the rookie had a jaw-dropping 134 rushing yards against one of the top run defenses in the league.
That leaves backup quarterback Kellen Clemens, who hurt the team with his erratic throws and poor decision-making.
I realize you can't expect a backup quarterback to produce eye-popping numbers, but Clemens is an eight-year veteran. His team put him in an ideal position and he choked, plain and simple.
Clemens will likely get another shot to work out the kinks, but don't be surprised if second-year quarterback Austin Davis is given a shot at some point.
The Defense Greatly Underperformed with Bradford at the Helm
It's pointless to get caught up in "what ifs," but surely Rams fans everywhere are wondering where this defensive effort was hiding during the first seven weeks.
St. Louis entered the week with the 22nd-ranked defense in the NFL, but it played like a top-10 unit in this game.
It's not as if the defense played above its head, either. On the contrary, it's an extremely talented group, and this is what the unit was supposed to look like since Week 1.
Where was this effort when the starting quarterback was around? What could Bradford have done in seven games with this kind of defensive support?
It's frustrating to think about, but at least the defense eventually decided to show up. Better late than never.
Greg Zuerlein Has Been Excellent Despite the Miss
Last season, Greg Zuerlein generated insane levels of hype for a kicker based on his incredible leg strength, earning him nicknames such as "Greg the Leg" and "Legatron."
The buzz has died down in his second year, but Zuerlein has been as productive as ever in 2013.
Zuerlein had a fourth-quarter miss against Seattle, but he nailed his other three field goals, scoring all nine points for the Rams.
Zuerlein's accuracy came into question in 2012 after missing 10 of his final 18 attempts on the season, but the young kicker has apparently regained his focus.
Despite his miss, his accuracy has been on target. He can't be blamed for this loss. At some point, there has to be offensive production outside of field goals, and it just wasn't there.
Jared Cook Has Been a Disappointment
Jared Cook was a major addition in free agency for the Rams, but his impact has been minimal.
Cook had an amazing start to the season with 141 yards and two touchdowns in Week 1, but the tight end has failed to exceed 50 yards in a game ever since.
Against Seattle, Cook displayed brutal run blocking and had a key drop that would have moved the chains.
He did have a fourth-quarter reception that put the Rams in scoring position, but that 19-yard catch hardly makes up for being virtually invisible the past seven games.
Cook was expected to be an impact player, and his effort has not been good enough. He needs to pick it up and have a productive second half of the season.
Offensive Play-Calling Lost the Game
The Rams had the ball at the goal line in the final seconds of the game and had a shot at winning. All they needed was their first rushing touchdown of the season.
Stacy, who was unstoppable in this game, was pulled from the field. This forced the Rams to run Daryl Richardson twice, but he failed to break the plane.
On the final play, with Stacy back in the lineup, the Rams had Clemens drop back and target Brian Quick.
You don't have to be a football expert to know that the play resulted in an incomplete pass. After all, Clemens and Quick are not exactly a frightening duo.
Rather than running the ball up the gut with Stacy, who Seattle had no answer for, Brian Schottenheimer put the game in the hands of two of the most unreliable players on the roster—Quick and Clemens.
It was a disaster. Having Clemens drop back on the final play completely cemented the loss.
The Rams deserved the win, but questionable play-calling at the end took it away.