Rams lose cool in finale, 27-9 loss to Seahawks
Zac Stacy wanted to get 1,000 yards rushing. Robert Quinn wanted to join the rare fraternity with 20 sacks in a season. St. Louis wanted a .500 finish for the first time since 2006.
''We're going to have to turn this into something a little more,'' Rams defensive end Chris Long said. ''Our team, the season is over before the new year. We want to play into the new year.''
St. Louis was trying to close the season with three straight victories and make the NFC West the first division since 2008 to have all four teams finish with at least .500 records. Instead, the Rams fell behind early after Malcolm Smith's 37-yard interception return for a touchdown, then lost their composure in the second half as Seattle pulled away.
''We made some plays on defense and never got the ball back. The penalty thing got out of hand there,'' coach Jeff Fisher said. ''But 2 for 11 on third down doesn't really give you a chance. Disappointed that we didn't play better, but the loss is the loss. But as I said during the week, I thought we've showed signs of improvement.''
St. Louis had made things miserable for Seattle in the previous three meetings, including an ugly 14-9 Seahawks win earlier this season when the Rams pushed them to the final yard on the final play before falling short.
This time the outcome was decided long before Russell Wilson took a final knee and set off Seattle's celebration of clinching the division and wrapping up home-field advantage in the playoffs.
''They're a heck of a football team and they played better than us today,'' Long said. ''They made less mistakes. They had the 12th man out there. They're a good football team and they deserve to win the division.''
Smith got Seattle (13-3) started with his interception return for a touchdown early in the first quarter a week after he was tackled at the 3-yard line trying to score on an interception return.
Wilson finished 15 of 23 for 172 yards. Seattle capped the victory with a 47-yard touchdown pass from Wilson to Golden Tate early in the fourth quarter that lacked the unsportsmanlike wave that got Tate flagged on a similar TD reception in St. Louis.
Tate finished with eight catches for 129 yards, both career highs.
''We had some explosive plays that kind of boosted us. There is a lot of things we need to fix, but we did a lot of great things also,'' Tate said.
Marshawn Lynch finished with 97 yards on 23 carries, his best game since running for a season-best 145 yards against Atlanta in Week 10.
The Rams (7-9) were penalized 12 times for 87 yards and lost their composure on defense late in the third quarter. St. Louis was flagged for four personal foul penalties in the span of two plays - two on Alec Ogletree and two on Kendall Langford. The penalty against Langford was for making contact with an official, which on replay appeared inadvertent. Langford was ejected and became incensed, slamming his helmet to the turf as he left the field.
Two plays later, Lynch walked in from the 2 and Seattle led 20-3.
''There was no intent, no anything,'' Langford said. ''I was surprised and then once it was determined that I was ejected for it, I got really upset about it. I apologize for throwing my helmet. ... But I don't agree with the call at all.''
St. Louis was called for two more personal fouls on the ensuing kickoff. The 12 penalties were a season high for the Rams.
''I'm not concerned about that. We'll fix that,'' Fisher said. ''I can fix that in a team meeting.''
Stacy needed just 42 yards coming in to reach 1,000 for the season, but was held to 15 yards on 15 carries. The Rams finished with 13 yards rushing, tied for the fewest allowed in Seahawks history. Kellen Clemens was 21 of 30 for 157 yards, two interceptions and a late TD pass to Jared Cook.
Quinn needed two sacks to become the 10th player with 20 in a season. He got No. 19 in the first half, but was kept off Wilson's back in the second half. The Rams got four sacks of Wilson after sacking him seven times in the first meeting.
''Me, personally, I had a great year,'' Quinn said. ''I give a lot of credit to my defensive guys out there, D-line and all, because getting numbers like that is not a one-man show.''
NOTES: Rams P Johnny Hekker set an NFL record for net yards punting in a season. Hekker had a 44.2 net average. The previous record was 44.0 by San Francisco's Andy Lee in 2011. ... Quinn finished second in the league in sacks, a half-sack behind Indianapolis' Robert Mathis. ... Seattle will host either Green Bay, New Orleans or San Francisco in the divisional round of the playoffs.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org