Rams vs. Seahawks: Takeaways from St. Louis' 27-9 Loss to Seattle
It was a long shot that the Rams would win this game, as St. Louis has not won in Seattle since 2004, but it would have been a sweet ending to an otherwise average season.
The defense was stout in the first half of the game, but the effort was spoiled thanks to numerous boneheaded decisions that aided the Seattle offense.
The Rams offense was dead in the water. The run game was held under five rushing yards in the first half and finished with just 13 yards on the ground.
Kellen Clemens was erratic with two interceptions, resulting in an inconsistent and ineffective aerial attack.
It was a bitter end to a season that fans initially had high hopes for.
Robert Quinn Will Have to Settle for No. 2
Robert Quinn entered the game with 18 sacks on the season, 1.5 behind the NFL-leading sack artist Robert Mathis (19.5).
Quinn recorded a sack in the first half, bringing him one sack away from the title, but he fell short.
Seattle had a sizable second-half lead that allowed the Seahawks to keep the ball on the ground to run out the clock, which killed Quinn's shot at recording another sack to take the NFL lead.
Quinn still has a reasonable shot at Defensive Player of the Year, but the first-annual Deacon Jones Award will not go to the Rams.
Rams Played an Embarrassing Game
It's one thing to lose on the road against the Seattle Seahawks. That's expected.
But to rack up 12 penalties, most of them for unnecessary roughness and unsportsmanlike conduct, is beyond frustrating. It's unacceptable.
An argument can be made that the officials had an awful outing and unnecessarily put the majority of the blame on the Rams, but that doesn't excuse it.
It's hard enough for a fanbase to sit through a loss in the season finale, but to witness such an undisciplined mess sends the fans into the offseason with a bad taste in their mouths.
This team needs to find discipline in 2014. There's tough, and there's stupid. For the majority of 2014, the Rams have been one stupid football team.
Is 2013's NFC West the Best Division Ever?
The 2013 regular season has reached a conclusion, and the NFC West has more combined wins than any other division with 42.
The 42 wins gives the NFC West a combined .656 winning percentage, which ties the 2007 AFC South for the best wining percentage by a division in NFL history.
With that in mind, it's not unreasonable to say that the 2013 NFC West is perhaps the best division in the history of football.
The Rams finished last in the division, but St. Louis fans can take solace in the fact that their team is part of arguably the best division in recent history—and maybe the best ever.
It may not seem like it after this game, but the Rams are truthfully a playoff-caliber team stuck in a juggernaut division.
Zac Stacy Just Shy of 1,000-Yard Mark
Zac Stacy entered the week with 958 rushing yards on the season—just 42 yards shy of becoming the first fifth-round back since the 1970 merger to reach 1,000 yards as a rookie.
It seemed certain that Stacy would reach the 1,000-yard mark, as he rushed for 134 yards the last time he faced the Seattle defense, but he was held to just 15 yards on the ground in the finale.
It's disappointing to see Stacy fall short of the 1,000-yard mark, but he's still a promising young star with a bright future ahead of him. The Rams have found their running back of the future.
Jake Long's Absence Hurt the Run Game
For those who feel Jake Long has regressed or that the Rams should search for a replacement following his knee injury, this game against Seattle is a clear example of how vital Long truly is to the offense.
The offensive line gave up just two sacks, but the offense was held to under five rushing yards in the first half and just 13 rushing yards overall.
Clearly, the line had a difficult time opening lanes up front, and the absence of Long is a big reason for that.
The Rams need Long back in the lineup in 2014. He's too good to write off over an injury.
Lance Kendricks Was Criminally Underutilized in 2013
Lance Kendricks was St. Louis' best offensive player in the finale with five catches and 54 yards. That's not saying a lot, but it's a subtle reminder that Kendricks has been underutilized in 2013.
It's not necessarily a knock against the coaching staff, as Kendricks missed the majority of training camp and entered the season not in full football shape, but his absence is still a mild mystery.
Kendricks recorded a career-low 258 yards, and his presence as a run-blocker was not as visible as it was in 2012.
Kendricks is an underrated part of the offense and needs a greater role in 2014.
No. 2 Overall Pick Is Locked Up
The Washington Redskins lost their Week 17 finale against the New York Giants, which locks up the No. 2 overall pick in the 2014 draft for the Rams, as St. Louis owns Washington's first-round pick this year.
Whether it's Jadeveon Clowney, Jake Matthews, Sammy Watkins or a trade down for more picks, the Rams will secure the rights to a great football player.
This has little to do with the game against Seattle, but it is a takeaway from Week 17 nonetheless.
Consolation prizes mean little in the NFL, but the No. 2 pick is still a nice late Christmas gift. At the very least, it's something to look forward to.
Arrow Is Pointing Up in St. Louis
I get that St. Louis fans have been hearing this since 2010 and are sick of it, but that doesn't mean it's not the truth.
The St. Louis Rams are an up-and-coming team, and the forecast for the future should be nothing short of optimistic.
St. Louis opened the season with a discouraging 1-3 record. Rather than imploding, which would have been the inevitable path of a pre-Jeff Fisher Rams team, the 2013 Rams bounced back and finished with a 7-9 record.
The team showed a level of resilience that St. Louis fans have not seen in recent years.
Unlike the 2010 team, a unit that obtained the same record by playing a ridiculously easy schedule, the 2013 team beat four different playoff-caliber teams (Chicago Bears, Indianapolis Colts, New Orleans Saints, Arizona Cardinals).
Three of those wins against playoff-caliber teams came without starting quarterback Sam Bradford.
In 2010, the Rams benefited by playing in the easiest division in the NFL. In 2013, the Rams were handcuffed by playing in the toughest division in league history. Had the Rams played the season in the NFC North or NFC East, the playoffs would have easily been within their grasp.
The Rams have talented young players at practically every position across the board. Once these pups grow up and become veteran football players, the St. Louis Rams will be a frightening franchise.
Steven Gerwel is the longest-tenured Rams Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report and serves as the Rams' game-day correspondent. You can find more of Gerwel's work by visiting his writer profile or by following him on Twitter.