Upon Further Review: Rams Week 8

October, 29, 2013
10/29/13
12:30
PM ET
ST. LOUIS -- A review of four hot issues from the St. Louis Rams' 14-9 loss to the Seattle Seahawks.

The final sequence: Much to the credit of quarterback Kellen Clemens and the Rams offense, they put together an impressive drive on the game's final possession. A drive that started at their 3 put them within a yard of a game-winning touchdown and a play to pull off the upset in regulation. The final drive had proved to be a clinic on run-pass balance with seven called runs and six called passes (one was nullified by a Seattle penalty). All of those play calls had worked well and the continued use of the run game had Seattle off balance. It all made sense. Until the final play. On fourth-and-goal at the 1, the Rams called for a pass that coach Jeff Fisher said was designed to give Clemens multiple options while getting the ball out of his hand fast. Running back Zac Stacy was injured earlier in the quarter but had run twice on the drive for 26 yards. After getting his sprained ankle rewrapped, there was some confusion on the sideline on third down. He entered on fourth down, though, and it looked like at the very least he could serve as a decoy. Instead, the Rams split him out wide, leaving no threat of the run in the backfield with Clemens against a blitzing Seattle defense which sold out to get after the quarterback. From there, Clemens' read was to throw what amounts to a touch pass to receiver Brian Quick in the corner of the end zone. It fell incomplete and the Rams lost, leaving many Rams fans still scratching their heads.

[+] EnlargeZac Stacy
Andy Lyons/Getty ImagesZac Stacy rushed for 134 yards in Monday night's loss to the Seahawks.
A big miss: It's probably unfair to put much of the blame for Monday night's loss on Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein. Zuerlein had been perfect entering the game and already had been good on all three of his field goal tries. But when he offered up his first miss of the season -- a 50-yarder that doubled as his longest try of the year -- you couldn't help but feel it would be costly. As it turned out, Zuerlein's miss was crippling because the offense proved incapable of scoring a touchdown to overtake Seattle on that final drive. Had Zuerlein connected on the 50-yarder, the Rams would have had a chip shot to win it on the final drive.

Stacy's the guy: Entering Monday night's game, Stacy's early success had come into question because it came against porous run defenses such as Jacksonville and Houston. With the help of an offensive line that was blowing Seattle's sixth-ranked run defense off the ball, Stacy erased all doubt Monday night. Known for getting yards after contact, Stacy had big enough holes most of the night that he was able to rely on his vision and balance more than ever as he recorded 90 of his 134 rushing yards before contact. For the Rams' sake, they better hope Stacy's ankle injury isn't anything serious because he's really settling into a groove.

Defense isn't enough: The Rams defense put on a show Monday night, racking up seven sacks and holding Seattle to 135 yards and seven first downs. Take away the 80-yard touchdown by Golden Tate and it was nearly a flawless performance from that group. That's what makes the loss that much harder to swallow. Seattle became the first team since the 2010 Miami Dolphins to win a game while posting 135 yards or less and seven or fewer first downs in a game. That's what happens when you are minus-2 in the turnover battle and fail to score a touchdown on four trips into the red zone.

Nick Wagoner

ESPN St. Louis Rams reporter

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