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St Louis Post-Dispatch: Rams embarrass themselves in Seattle...


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Full Story: Rams embarrass themselves in Seattle

• There's a difference between getting beaten and getting embarrassed, and the Rams definitely got embarrassed Sunday.

It's one thing to lose at CenturyLink Field, a place where the Seahawks have lost only once in the last two years. Similarly, the Rams aren't the first team to discover it's tough to move the ball against the NFL's top-ranked defense.

But then there were the was the matter of penalties. And more penalties. And more. . . .You get the point. The Rams lost their collective cool, lost defensive tackle Kendall Langford — who was ejected for striking an official — and lost for the ninth straight time in the Pacific Northwest.

As a result of their 27-9 loss, the Rams finished 2013 with a 7-9 record, making it seven straight losing seasons and 10 straight seasons without a winning record. Seattle, meanwhile, finished at 13-3 to win the NFC West and earn the No. 1 seed in the NFC.

Running back Zac Stacy fell short of 1,000 yards. Robert Quinn had a sack but fell one-half sack short of winning the NFL sack title because Robert Mathis had two sacks Sunday for Indianaolis.

Things couldn't have started worse for the Rams. On their first possession of the game, after their defense forced a 3-and-out, quarterback Kellen Clemens' third pass of the game was picked off by Seattle linebacker Malcolm Smith and returned 37 yards for a touchdown.

Clemens' first option was covered, and as he threw back over the middle it looked like the ball might have sailed on him. That made it a league-leading 27 interceptions for the top-ranked Seattle defense.

The Seahawks put the clamps on Stacy and the Rams running game, stuffing the box with extra defenders _ eight and sometimes nine up close to the line of scrimmage. Stacy's quest for 1,000 yards rushing started at a snail's pace. He had only three yards on 10 carries at the half.

It was obvious the Rams missed the blocking of Jake Long at left tackle. And it was a double whammy because Rodger Saffold wasn't at right guard, where he had played so well down the stretch this season.

(Saffold started at left tackle Sunday replacing Long, who suffered a season-ending knee injury last week against Tampa Bay; Shelley Smith came off the bench to start at right guard.)

The Rams' defense was up to the task, sacking Russell Wilson three times in the first half, while allowing only two field goals and 130 yards to the Seahawks. Quinn got one of those sacks, giving him 19 for the season. Both of those field goals came after the Seahawks had first-and-goal opportunities.

It was a chippy first half, with plenty of hard hits, extra hits, and late hits. The teams combined for 99 yards on nine penalties, and that didn't include several offsetting penalties.

Special teams penalties, an early-season trouble spot for the Rams, resurfaced Sunday. Ray Ray Armstrong and Eugene Sims were both flagged on Seattle's first punt of the day. On Seattle's third punt, three Rams were penalized, but it turned out to be offsetting penalties because of one flag against Seattle.

So Seattle had to punt again, but lo and behold, Armstrong was flagged for a personal foul on that play.

The Rams looked like they were intent on making a game of it in the second half, getting easily their best field position of the game at that point on a 32-yard punt return by Austin Pettis, replacing the injured Justin Veltung. That gave them a first-and-10 at the Seattle 31. A 13-yard pass from Clemens to Stedman Bailey got the Rams in the red zone, but that's as far they got, settling for a Greg Zeurlein field goal and a 13-3 deficit.

After the ensuing kickoff, the Rams unraveled. In the midst of an 80-yard touchdown drive, an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against Alec Ogletree for a late hit out of bounds, was followed by an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and an ejection of Kendall Langford at the end of that play. Langford was ejected for touching an official.

More precisely, Langford knocked the hat off of back judge Steve Freeman. Freeman was behind Langford at the time. Langford didn't see Freeman and struck his hat while pointing emphatically in the direction of the Rams' sideline.

Those two penalties gave Seattle a first-and-goal from the Rams' 1, and after a loss of one yard by quarterback Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch scored from two yards out with 2:21 left in the third quarter. It was 20-3 Seahawks and the Rams' hopes for a non-losing season were dead.

Here are the updates posted during the game by Post-Dispatch football writer Joe Lyons:

The Seattle Seahawks took care of business Sunday, posting a dominating 27-9 victory over the Rams to wrap up a 13-3 and secure home-field advantage through the playoffs.

The loss ended the Rams' second season under Jeff Fisher at 7-9. The team went 7-8-1 a year ago.

It was an ugly, penalty-filled game controlled by the Seattle defense.

Just when it appeared the Seahawks were content running out the clock with Marshawn Lynch runs, Russell Wilson lofted a pass down the left sideline for Golden Tate, who made the catch as Janoris Jenkins overran the pass and went on for a 47-yard touchdown. Seattle is up 27-3 with 9:14 to play.

With Rodger Saffold hurt, Chris Williams shifts to tackle and Brandon Washington moves in at guard, getting his first snaps as a pro.

With 4:13 to play, the Rams picked up a touchdown as Kellen Clemens hooks up with Jared Cook on a 2-yard scoring pass. On the try for two, Clemens again threw to Cook, but Seattle's Byron Maxwell knocked the ball away. Seattle is up 27-9.


Rams finally got into Seattle territory, thanks to a 32-yard punt return from Austin Pettis, who got a chance with Justin Veltung out due to injury. Prior to Pettis' return to the Seattle 31, the Seahawks had allowed just 25 total yards on punt returns all season.

A 13-yard pass from Kellen Clemens to Stedman Bailey moved the ball to the Seattle 18. But the drive stalled there. In fact, the Rams caught a break when Clemens' arm was hit on a third-down pass attempt and three Seahawks collided in the end zone on what should've been an interception.

Greg Zuerlein's 36-yard field goal with 10:49 left in the third quarter put the Rams on the scoreboard and cut the Seattle lead to 13-3.

Things got ugly again late in the quarter. On a Marshawn Lynch run, the helmet of Trumaine Johnson came off as he made the tackle. As Lynch stiff-armed Johnson in the face, teammate Alec Ogletree shoved Lynch and was called for a personal foul.

A play later, Ogletree picked up another unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. During the discussion after the play, the Rams' Kendall Langford inadvertently knocked the hat off of an officials' head, prompting another personal-foul call and an ejection.

When Langford realized he'd been tossed, he threw his helmet and picked up yet another penalty to set up a first-and-goal at the Rams' 1.

Lynch scored two plays later, pushing the Seattle lead to 20-3 with 2:21 left in the third quarter.

Following the ensuing kickoff, Rams' Ray Ray Armstrong and Darian Stewart picked up personal-foul penalties, forcing the Rams to start from their own 4-yard line.


Seattle added to its lead with 6:14 to play in the first half on a 28-yard field goal from Steven Hauschka to make it 10-0. The 11-play, 65-yard drive featured plenty of power running from Marshawn Lynch, who has 48 yards on 10 carries.

In the teams' first meeting _ a 14-9 Monday night win for Seattle at the Edward Jones Dome _ Lynch managed just 23 yards on eight carries.

The Seahawks' lead went to 13-0 as Hauschka booted a 35-yard field goal with three seconds to play in the half.

On the prior play, Seattle's Russell Wilson threw a touchdown pass to Golden Tate, but the play was called back because Russell Okung held Robert Quinn on the play.

Some notable halftime numbers:

• Zac Stacy, who started the day just 42 yards short of 1,000 for the season, has been limited to three yards on 10 carries. In the teams' first meeting, Stacy ran for a career-best 134 yards. Kellen Clemens has completed 7 of 11 passes for 58 yards, but he's been picked off twice.

• Lynch has 54 yards on 12 carries. Wilson has completed 8 of 14 passes for 77 yards; Tate has five catches for 52 yards.


The Seahawks defense gave the large and energetic crowd at CenturyLink Field something to cheer about early. After a Seattle three-and-out and a pair of Rams first downs, a hurried dump-off pass from Kellen Clemens went through the hands of tight end Lance Kendricks and into the waiting arms of linebacker Malcolm Smith, who returned it 37 yards for the game's first score to make it 7-0 with 9:50 to play in the opening quarter.

It was the league-leading 27th interception for the Seahawks, who also lead the NFL in giveways/takeaways at plus-19.


SEATTLE • The Rams will finish the 2013 season without Tavon Austin on the field against Seattle.

Austin, the Rams' rookie wide receiver/return man, was declared inactive for today's contest with an ankle injury.

It will mark the third consecutive missed game for Austin, a receiver and kick returner selected with the eighth overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft.

Other Rams inactives: RB Daryl Richardson (thigh), CB Quinton Pointer, DE Sammy Brown, OG Harvey Dahl, DT Matt Conrath, OT Mike Person.

Inactives for Seattle: WR Percy Havin, RB Christine Michael, LB K.J. Wright, OT Michael Bowie, OT Caylin Hauptmann, DE Benson Mayowa, DT Jordan Hill.

(Jim Thomas of the Post-Dispatch contributed to this report.)
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