A day later, the last play of Monday night’s 14-9 loss to Seattle remained the one play most Rams fans wanted to talk about.
As for coach Jeff Fisher — not so much.
“It was the play selection,” Fisher said, of quarterback Kellen Clemens’ incomplete pass to Brian Quick on a fade pattern as time expired. “It’s what we felt gave us the best chance to score a touchdown.”
But on a night where the Rams rushed for 200 yards, why not at least have Zac Stacy in the backfield? Stacy went in motion and split out wide on the play. So instead of having to guess whether the Rams would run or pass, the Seahawks knew a pass was coming and sent an all-out blitz at Clemens on fourth-and-goal from the 1.
Clemens’ pass was hurried because of the pressure and was thrown behind Quick, who was well covered by Seattle corner Brandon Browner.
“What if we had had a back back there and didn’t get in?” Fisher said. “We’d be asked about why you’d run it, why didn’t we go empty and give Kellen a chance to throw the football? So, that was what we prepared to do. We thought it gave us the best chance.”
Clemens said the play-call from offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer gave him “a lot of options” on what to run based on the look he got from the Seattle defense.
“We wanted to give ‘Kel’ options to get the ball out quick,” Fisher said after the game. “He made the right read, and we didn’t make the catch.”
“They sold out from a defensive standpoint — brought everybody,” Clemens said, speaking of the Seattle defense. “So the best option we had was ‘Quickie.’ Browner made a good play that seemed like a pretty physical play. (Would have) loved to have put the ball in a little bit different spot. But didn’t have a lot of time to assess it since they brought one more than we could block.”
As is custom for Seattle corners, Browner was physical on the line of scrimmage with Quick, who had trouble beating the jam.
“When you’re in certain situations like that, it’s not going to always go as planned — like you practice — every time,” Quick said. “So you’ve just got to basically do what you can to get open. That’s what I tried to do.”
So that was that. One of the Rams’ best defensive efforts and best rushing efforts in years wasn’t enough to overcome Seattle.
The 200 yards rushing (on 37 carries) marked the Rams’ first 200-yard rushing game in five years. The last time it happened was Dec. 28, 2008, when the Rams had 202 yards rushing against Atlanta in Jim Haslett’s last game as interim head coach.
And Monday’s strong ground effort came against the league’s second-ranked defense and sixth-ranked run defense.
“That’s amazing,” Clemens said. “Against that defense? That is such a credit to what the other 10 guys on the football field did. Credit Zac (Stacy). He did a great job. He made yards after contact. He’s a great asset for us. We’re lucky to have him.’’
Despite a late-game ankle injury, Stacy gained 134 yards on 26 carries. It’s the second-highest rushing total for a Rams rookie since the move to St. Louis in 1995, exceeded only by Steven Jackson’s 148 yards vs. Philadelphia in 2004.
Defensively, the Rams were even more dominant. As dominant as they’ve been since coming to St. Louis. Seattle’s 135 yards of total offense was the lowest ever against a “St. Louis” Rams defense.
In fact, throw out the fluky 80-yard TD catch by Golden Tate, on a play in which Janoris Jenkins was in position for an interception before losing his balance, and it would’ve been a defensive performance of historic proportions.
(The 1937 Rams allowed 68 yards vs. Washington, the third-best defensive day in franchise history in terms of yards allowed. The ’73 Rams allowed 63 yards vs. Green Bay for second-best. The team — and league — record is minus-7 yards allowed against Seattle in 1979.)
“ ‘Jenks’ actually was in really good position considering the coverage,” Fisher said of Jenkins. “We had some confusion and we were checked in and out of coverages. ‘Jenks’ actually was just sinking; he was in underneath coverage but he still was in position nonetheless. He sorted things out and was in position to make the play, just got his legs tangled.”
Earlier, there appeared to be some confusion in the secondary on Tate’s first TD catch, a 2-yard reception in the second quarter.
“They quick-snapped, and there was some communication stuff going on, but no (confusion),” Fisher said. “I think we’re nitpicking here. I thought the secondary played pretty good. I thought the safeties played well in the run game. I thought they pressured well.
“We gave them multiple looks, and like I said (Monday) night, we asked the corners to do a lot of stuff by themselves the whole game. That’s how you have to defend this run game and the read-option and everything associated with Marshawn Lynch. So, I thought overall the guys played pretty well.”
In part, that entailed having the Rams play more man-to-man coverage than usual. The result was only 139 yards passing by Wilson, and just 91 net passing yards after subtracting the 48 yards lost on seven sacks.
All things considered, Fisher said it has been a while since one of his defenses played that well.
“We had a good plan,” Fisher said. “We spent a lot of time during the week on the things that they were doing ... and somehow it just all came together.”
Just not together enough for an upset victory.