The St. Louis Rams fought hard and, for a moment, looked as though they had a chance to do something special, but in the end they came up just short.
The description of the game, a 20-13 loss to the Seattle Seahawks, could also serve as a synopsis of the season for the Rams, a season in which they exceeded many expectations but came up a few wins short of a playoff berth in Jeff Fisher’s first season as head coach.
The Rams were in the game until the very end, even leading 7-3 at halftime and tying the game at 13-13 with 11:27 to play. But the Seahawks were able to put together a late 10-play drive that ended with a one-yard Russell Wilson scramble with 1:45 left to play. The Rams had a chance to answer, but their drive stalled on the Seattle 29-yard line. On 4th-and-10 Bradford was intercepted in the end zone by Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman, ending the threat and the Rams’ season.
Despite the bad, there was quite a bit of good for the Rams and their players on Sunday. Although running back Steven Jackson finished the day with just 52 yards on 11 carries, his 14-yard rush in the second quarter put him over 1,000 yards rushing for the eighth-straight season. Jackson joined Emmitt Smith, Barry Sanders, Curtis Martin, Thurman Thomas and LaDanian Tomlinson as the only players with eight or more consecutive seasons with over 1,000 yards.
A strong performance by the team’s defensive ends also helped the Rams lead the league in a team category. The Rams sacked Wilson six times on the day, including three by defensive end Chris Long and one by opposite end Robert Quinn. With the six sacks the Rams finished tied with the Denver Broncos for the league lead in sacks with 52 on the year.
Long’s three sacks pushed his season total to 11.5, 1.5 fewer than his 2011 total but another strong showing from the veteran end. Quinn finished with 10.5, marking the first time two Rams have recorded double-digit sack numbers since Grant Wistrom and Kevin Carter in 2000.
Going forward, there are plenty of questions that face the Rams heading into the offseason. What does the future hold for Jackson? Will wide receiver Danny Amendola, who led the team with 63 receptions and has been the team leader in receptions in two of the last three seasons, return in 2013? What positions will the Rams address with their two first-round draft picks in the 2013 NFL Draft?
Sunday was a disappointing end to the season. The season itself was anything but a disappointment.