Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) works against the St. Louis Rams during the first half.
ASSOCIATED PRESS Enlarge
ST. LOUIS — Not much had gone right for Rams quarterback Kellen Clemens.
Making his first start in two years, he had already thrown a pair of interceptions, and had been put on his back enough times by the stingy Seattle Seahawks that he probably could describe every imperfection in the ceiling of the Edward Jones Dome.
Still, Clemens had a chance to be the hero when he marched St. Louis the length of the field in the closing minutes Monday night. He dropped back to pass on the final play of the game, threw toward the end zone — and saw the ball skitter across the turf incomplete.
Game over. Seahawks win, 14-9.
“In this business, your grade scale is pass or fail — incidentally, most of my classes in college were pass or fail,” Clemens said wryly. “Unfortunately, I think this was a fail.”
Clemens finished with 158 yards passing for the Rams (3-5), who couldn’t salvage a lousy night for St. Louis sports fans. The Cardinals had already lost 3-1 to the Boston Red Sox in Game 5 of the World Series, played just up the road at Busch Stadium.
“We’ve got to pull that win out, man,” said the Rams’ Chris Long, who had three sacks. “That one hurts. We’ll build off that. But I’m proud of the guys the way they fought.”
The World Series no doubt contributed to the stale atmosphere just down Broadway, where the announced crowd of 55,966 was in reality much smaller. Many of the Rams fans who did show up wore Cardinals gear, and Cardinals-Red Sox highlights were shown throughout the night.
“We were very fortunate. The Rams played a great football game,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “Under the circumstances with a new quarterback, they did a great job. We just couldn’t get going on offense. Fortunately, the defense hung together and gave us a chance to win the game.”
Russell Wilson threw two touchdown passes to Golden Tate, the second one a dazzling 80-yard play down the sideline. Otherwise, the Seahawks (7-1) did little on offense — they had just 135 yards, the third-fewest yards in a victory in franchise history.
“It’s not always going to be pretty,” said Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman, who had his fourth interception of the season. “You have to be able to win ugly.”
Greg Zuerlein staked St. Louis to an early lead with his first of three field goals, but Sherman’s pick put the Seahawks in business. Seattle took advantage of his fourth interception of the season by scoring six players later, when Wilson hit Tate from the 2-yard line.
Zuerlein got the Rams within 7-6 late in the third quarter, but the Seahawks answered.
Wilson went deep down the sideline to Tate, who made an acrobatic leaping catch over Janoris Jenkins. Tate regained his balance and then mockingly waved at safety Rodney McLeod as he ran to the end zone, earning an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
“He just was so in the moment and just made an unbelievable catch,” Wilson said. “You’ve got to give him credit for just attacking the football right there.”
Zuerlein connected again to get St. Louis to 14-9, but he missed a 50-yard field goal in the fourth quarter. That proved to be critical because the Rams would have needed just another field goal from him on their final drive, rather than a touchdown, to steal the win.
They still had a chance after they took over at their own 3-yard line with just over 5 minutes left, and methodically marched down field. They had first-and-goal at the Seattle 6 with about a minute left, and Richardson carried the ball to the 2.
An encroachment call on Seattle put the ball at the 1, but Richardson was stuffed on third down and Clemens misfired on fourth down as the final seconds ticked off the clock.
“We needed 97 yards, we got 96,” Clemens said. “There was such a great sense of resolve in the huddle as soon as I walked in the huddle. Everybody knew. Nobody really had to say anything. We gave ourselves a win at the end, but unfortunately we didn’t make the play.”
NOTES: Rams DE Robert Quinn had three sacks, all in the first half. ... Seattle had minus-1 yard of offense in the first quarter, and 38 yards at the half, its fewest since gaining 37 in the first half against Kansas City in 1998, according to STATS LLC. ... Seahawks WR Sidney Rice left late in the first half with a knee injury and did not return.