ST. LOUIS -- Conventional wisdom heading into Seattle's game Monday night at St. Louis was that there was no way the beleaguered Rams could beat the fast-rising Seahawks.
And ultimately there wasn't, even with the Rams dominating every statistic and needing just a yard with under a minute left to win the game.
The Seahawks bent often in this game--swaying at times like a kite against a strong wind--but held the Rams out of the end zone when they most needed to, the final play coming as time ran out and quarterback Kellen Clemens unable to connect with Brian Quick, who was well covered by Brandon Browner in the end zone.
That allowed Seattle to escape with a 14-9 win and improve to 7-1 for the first time in franchise history even if they were held to season lows in virtually every offensive category.
The failed fourth-down pass came a play after backup middle linebacker Heath Farwell, a regular on Seattle's goal-line defense, helped plug up Daryl Richardson for a yard loss.
The offense, meanwhile, made the one play it needed--an 80-yard Russell Wilson-to-Golden Tate hookup in the third quarter--to give the Seahawks the cushion they needed in a game that felt sleepy from the beginning, with much of St. Louis paying more attention to the World Series Game 5 about a mile away.
Still, the game was a much greater struggle than those who installed Seattle as 14-point favorites--among the largest spreads ever for the Seahawks in a road game -- expected.
Seattle's offensive line was pushed around much of the night, allowing seven sacks -- equaling the number of first downs the Seahawks managed on a night they were outgained, 339-135.
The Rams had driven from their own 3, starting with 5:42 left, to the Seattle 1 before the Seahawks defense made the stand it needed, reminiscent of plays it also made to escape with road wins earlier this year at Carolina and Houston.
Seattle's offense did almost nothing all right other than the Wilson-to-Tate touchdown with 3:45 in the third quarter.
Even that score hardly came cleanly for Seattle, though.
On the play, Tate leapt over cornerback Janoris Jenkins to grab the pass and then had a free path into the end zone. Tate, though, took his time getting there, holding the ball with one hand and waving with the other to taunt Jenkins and safety Rodney McLeod as he ran the final 30 yards or so. That drew a 15-yard personal foul for taunting but didn't negate the touchdown.
The Rams then drove to Seattle's 3-yard-line. But indicative of how the Seattle defense often bent, but never really broke, the Seahawks again held the Rams out of the end zone. Cornerback Walter Thurmond made the key play on third and goal from the three when he came in untouched on a blitz and sacked Clemens for a six-yard loss.
Greg Zuerlein had hit a 27-yard-field with 12:51 to play that cut Seattle's lead to 14-9.
Seattle then went three-and-out on its next drive, including a drop by Jermaine Kearse on a slant that would have picked up the first down.
The Rams moved to Seattle's 33, but the drive stalled there and Zuerlein--who was 14-of-14 on field goals to that point -- then missed from 50 yards out with 8:28 remaining.
Seattle got a first down on its next drive, but then had to punt. Jon Ryan's perfectly placed kick rolled dead at the 3 with 5:42 left.
The Rams drove quickly into Seattle territory and a Clemens pass to Lance Kendricks gave St. Louis a first down at the Seahawk 21-yard-line at the two-minute warning.
Two runs by Richardson took it to the Seahawks 6 with just over a minute to play.
On first down, Clemens rolled out and had to throw it away in the face of a heavy rush with 38 seconds left.
On second down, Richardson ran it to the 2-yard-line with the Rams calling time out with 31 seconds remaining.
Seattle's Chris Clemens then jumped offsides, putting the ball at the 1.
Richardson was then held to no gain on third down by Farwell and Earl Thomas and then came the failed fourth-down pass.
Inartistic as it may have been, the win was Seattle's 12th in 13 games dating to the 2012 season, and their fourth in five road games this year. It also made Seattle 3-0 against its NFC West rivals, one win against
The Seahawks were fortunate to lead 7-3 at the end of a first half in which they were largely dominated.
The Rams, in fact, outgained the Seahawks 75-to-minus-one in the first quarter, during which Seattle's only first down came via penalty.
Seattle, though, used two interceptions of passes by Clemens to not only stave off St. Louis scoring opportunities but set up their only touchdown.
St. Louis took a 3-0 lead the second time it had the ball on a 33-yard field goal by Zuerlein with 4:37 left in first quarter.
The Rams moved into Seattle territory on its next possession. But on a first down from the 40, Seattle linebacker Bruce Irvin perfectly played a wheel route pass to tight end Jared Cook and picked it off at the 21, returning it to the 29.
Seattle was again stopped, and St. Louis appeared to again be moving for another score midway through the second quarter.
But Clemens then overthrew an open Austin Pettis with the ball landing square in the chest of Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman.
He returned it to 38 yards to the St. Louis 26.
Symbolic of Seattle's offensive struggles, though, Seattle needed six plays and a lot of help to score. On one play, St. Louis was called for three penalties, the Seahawks accepting a pass interference call that put the ball at the 1.
Two plays later, Seattle was at the 2-yard-line, two runs by Wilson resulting in minus-one yards.
Finally, on third down Seattle got in when Wilson hit Tate on a slant pass to make it 7-3 with 5:37 to play in the first half.
Lynch, who was in the game on all three plays, seemed irritated as he got to the sideline, surely frustrated by a first half in which he gained just eight yards on four carries.
The Rams cut the lead to 7-6 on a 28-yard field goal by Zuerlein with 4:01 to play in the third quarter.
That came after a series in which the Seahawks had to punt from their own 9-yard-line after Wilson had barely escaped being sacked in the end zone for a safety on first down.
The Seahawks, who have played five of their first eight on the road, will now return home for a short week before hosting Tampa Bay Sunday at CenturyLink Field.
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