ST. LOUIS -- The Rams knocked and knocked and knocked on the door. In the process they knocked the stuffing out of NFC West powerhouse Seattle.
But they just couldn't find the end zone, right down to a last-ditch effort on fourth-and-goal from the Seattle 2.
As time expired, Kellen Clemens' fade pattern to a well-covered Brian Quick fell incomplete in the left corner of the end zone.
A game the Rams probably deserved to win ended in a 14-9 loss Monday night at the Edward Jones Dome. The Rams outgained the Seahakws 339-135 in total yardage
The Rams reached the Seattle 15, the Seattle 10 and the Seattle 3 previously, but couldn't get the ball in the end zone and settled for three Greg Zuerlein field goals.
The Rams lost their second straight, falling to 3-5 overall. Seattle (7-1) has the best record in the NFC. There were 55,966 tickets distributed for a game that about 45,000 attended, what with the Cardinals playing in Game 5 of the World Series nearby.
In a way, you could say it was typical Rams' buzzard luck.
A sure interception turned into an 80-yard touchdown by Golden Tate. And Zuerlein, who had made his first 14 field-goal tries of the season, barely missed on 50-yarder --wide right -- that would have narrowed Seattle's lead to 14-12 with 81/2 minutes left in the game.
The Rams kept the Marshawn Lynch and the vaunted Seattle running game in check, and despite two interceptions of Kellen Clemens passes trailed only 7-3 at the half.
As has been the case since the loss Sept. 26 to San Francisco, two and three tight end sets were the order of the day for the Rams' offense. The extra beef up front opened some holes against Seattle's sixth-ranked rushing defense, with Zac Stacy the primary beneficiary.
All told the Rams had 97 yards rushing at halftime to 29 for Seattle and finished with 200, to Seattle's 44.
Stacy had 134 yards, in 26 carries. Lynch, who entered the game ranked second in the NFL in rushing, managed only 23 yards on eight carries.
The Rams got on the board first, thanks to a short field and the steady leg of Zuerlein, who's 33-yard field goal with 4:37 to go in the first quarter gave the Rams a 3-0 lead. The Rams had taken over at the Seattle 46 on the field goal drive.
Clemens kept the drive alive by scramble into the open then firing a 26-yard pass to Austin Pettis on a third-and-9 from the Seahawks' 45.
The Rams had another drive in making late in the first quarter, but Clemens threw an interception down the left sideline on a play in which it looked as if tight end Jared Cook stopped running his route. Linebacker Bruce Irvin, dropping into coverage, intercepted the pass at the Seattle 21.
But with the Rams' defense breathing fire, the Seahawks couldn't do much with the ball. When not stuffing the running game, the Rams were all over quarterback Russell Wilson.
Wilson was sacked seven times, with defensive end Robert Quinn getting three of them. Chris Long made it five sacks on the night when he got Wilson on the first series of the third quarter, forcing a punt.
Even though they were outgained (131-38) and outplayed in the first half, Seattle scored the game's first touchdown. On first-and-20 from the Rams' 44, Clemens threw high and behind Austin Pettis down the field. Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman grabbed the errant pass and raced 38 yards to the Rams' 26.
With the aid of not one, not two, but three penalties on the same play -- all against St. Louis -- the Seahawks had a first-and-goal from the 1.
Wilson was stopped twice on keepers but then on third down, he rifled a TD pass to Golden Tate on a play in which the Rams' secondary didn't look like it was lined up in time.
Continuing to dominate the line of scrimmage, the Rams got another Zuerlein field goal, this one from 28 yards out, to narrow Seattle's lead to 7-6 with 4:01 left in the quarter.
Seattle had only 39 yards of offense for the game when it scored its second touchdown of the night. On the play, Wilson threw deep for Tate down the left sideline, but underthrew the pass.
Janoris Jenkins was in excellent position for an interception but lost his balance and fell. Tate caught the ball and raced all the way to the end zone for an 80-yard score, drawing a taunting penalty in the process for waving "good-bye" to the pursuing Rodney McLeod.
After taking the short kickoff (because of the taunting penalty) the Rams marched deep into the red zone, thanks in part to a holding penalty against Brandon Browner that negated a sack of Clemens on third down.
After a 19-yard completion to Cook carried to the Seattle 6, Stacy carried to the 3.
But after a Rams penalty for illegal lineman downfield was declined, making it third down, Clemens was sacked by a blitzing Walter Thurmond.
So the Rams had to settle for a third Zuerlein field goal and a 14-9 deficit with 12:51 to play. That set the stage for their late-game frustrations.
(c)2013 St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Visit the St. Louis Post-Dispatch at www.stltoday.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services