Reviewing the Rams' Game 17

December, 30, 2013
12/30/13
8:00
AM ET
ST. LOUIS -- A review of four hot issues from the St. Louis Rams' 27-9 loss to the Seattle Seahawks:

No run, no win: The key to success for the Rams' offense all season has been no secret. When they run the ball well, they open up the passing game, and they find a nice balance which allows them to keep defenses guessing. It's been the formula for six of their seven victories.

Stacy
But when the ground attack is stuck in the mud, so is the offense at large. The Seahawks left Rams running back Zac Stacy and the offensive line stuck in neutral or reverse throughout Sunday's game. St. Louis mustered just 13 yards on 18 carries, a paltry 0.7 yards per attempt. That left the Rams in plenty of third-and-long situations, and Seattle's top-ranked pass defense took advantage by coaxing quarterback Kellen Clemens into a pair of costly interceptions.

In the Rams' last three losses of 2013, all against NFC West division opponents, they mustered their three lowest rushing outputs since Week 7 against Carolina. That total hit rock bottom against the Seahawks and left Stacy 27 yards short of 1,000 in his rookie season.

Penalties persist: Despite the occasional game where they limited their mistakes, the Rams had penalty issues all season, finishing with 121. They amassed their highest infractions total for the season Sunday against the Seahawks, time and again losing their composure in a tough environment against a better team, with shoddy officiating contributing to the situation.

Defensive tackle Kendall Langford was ejected for accidentally striking an official in a game that got out of hand in no small part because the officials didn't get control of it early. Regardless, penalties were an issue far too often for the Rams in 2013, and until they limit those mistakes or improve the roster to the point it's good enough to overcome them, it's likely to continue.

Quinn
Quinn comes up short: Defensive end Robert Quinn put together one of the best seasons ever for a Rams pass-rusher, adding another sack to his tally Sunday in Seattle to finish with 19 for the season. That is the new "official" franchise record for sacks in a season since it became an official statistic. It also is half a sack short of Indianapolis' Robert Mathis for the league lead.

Quinn had few opportunities to catch Mathis after the Rams fell behind and the Seahawks ran the ball for most of the second half. Make no mistake, Quinn is still deserving of the Defensive Player of the Year award, but the first ever Deacon Jones Award will reside in Indianapolis rather than with Jones' team, the Rams.

West's worst: For all intents and purposes, the Rams were a better team at the end of 2013 than they were at the end of 2012, even though the record was a half-game worse. They finished 7-9 and improved to 6-4 in games against non-division opponents. But there is one major problem facing them as they head toward 2014: The rest of the division improved even more, and the Rams finished last this season.

Sunday's loss was the Rams' third straight beatdown at the hands of an NFC West opponent, and dropped the Rams to 1-5 in the division. After going 4-1-1 against the Niners, Seahawks and Cardinals a year ago, the Rams face the challenge of having to jump three of the league's best teams just to get back in the playoff conversation.

Nick Wagoner

ESPN St. Louis Rams reporter

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