(AP) — The Seattle Seahawks punted the ball away with about 5 minutes left, leaving the St. Louis Rams 97 yards from the go-ahead touchdown and a dramatic come-from-behind victory.
The Seahawks let them move 96 yards before making a stand.
Their stingy defense first repelled Rams running back Daryl Richardson on third-and-goal from just outside the goal-line, and then forced quarterback Kellen Clemens to throw incomplete on the final play of the game, preserving a dramatic 14-9 victory Monday night.
"On the last play of the game, they could have done anything," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "We called something very aggressive, a good call that might hit the run and at least get some heat on the quarterback. It was one-on-one for guys across the board.
"They did a really good job."
The outcome capped a lousy night for St. Louis sports fans. The Cardinals lost 3-1 to the Boston Red Sox in Game 5 of the World Series, played just up Broadway at Busch Stadium.
"There was such a great sense of resolve in the huddle," said Clemens, who started for the first time in two years in place of the injured Sam Bradford. "Nobody really had to say anything. We gave ourselves a chance to win at the end, but unfortunately we didn't make the play."
Seattle (7-1) extended the best start in franchise history despite gaining just 135 yards, with 80 coming on Russell Wilson's second TD pass to Golden Tate. It was the third-fewest yards for the Seahawks in a win, and their seven first downs were the fewest.
"The great thing is we found a way to win," Wilson said. "When you look at the record books, nobody remembers the scores. You've just got to find a way to come up with the W's."
The Seahawks have done an impressive job of that this season, winning a close game over Carolina, an overtime game against Houston and another close game against Tennessee.
They still lead the 49ers by a game in the NFC West.
The Rams (3-5) are now in the division cellar after losing their second straight game, and without Bradford for the rest of the season because of a knee injury, they have an uphill fight if they want to squeak into the playoffs this season.
"Guys just said this would be a good week to hunker down and play more like us, and we played more like us," said Rams defensive end Chris Long. "But we've got to pull that win out, man. That one hurts. We'll build off that. But I'm proud of the guys the way they fought and we're a good football team in here."
As the two teams look toward next week, here are five takeaways from Monday night's game:
PROTECTING WILSON: The Seahawks were missing starting offensive tackles Russell Okung and Breno Giacomini due to injuries, and Wilson spent much of the night avoiding pressure. Robert Quinn had three sacks in the first half, Chris Long finished with three more sacks, and St. Louis piled up seven as a team. "We played one of our best defensive games this year," Quinn said. "You look back and you're like, 'I wish I could have made this play or that play,' but that's a great football team as the world knows. We went toe for toe with them."
ZUERLEIN'S MISS: Greg Zuerlein kicked three field goals for the Rams, but his miss from 50 yards late in the game loomed large. It forced the Rams to go for a touchdown rather than kicking a chip-shot field goal with seconds left to win the game.
SIMPLY GOLDEN: Tate hauled in a 2-yard TD catch early in the game, but it was his 80-yard grab over Janoris Jenkins in the second half that turned heads. He mockingly waved at safety Rodney McLeod as he ran to the end zone, earning an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. "He's a playful, wonderful spirited guy that had too much fun at the wrong time," Carroll said. "It was not the right thing to do. He knew it. He apologized to everybody."
TOUGH SLEDDING: The Seahawks had minus-1 yard of offense in the first quarter, and 38 yards at the half, its fewest since gaining 37 yards in the first half against Kansas City in 1998, according to STATS LLC. "Guys answered the bell in the run game. We're proud of that," Long said. "We played hard, both sides of the ball, but just a little bit short."
STACY'S NIGHT: Fifth-round draft pick Zac Stacy ran for a career-best 134 yards, but got banged up in the second half and wasn't on the field when the Rams were trying to stick the ball in the end zone. "Daryl did a great job tonight," he said. "When you're given your opportunities you've just got to make the most of them."
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