Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Rams Need More Magic to Pull off Upset

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Rams Need More Magic to Pull off Upset

Article excerpt

No doubt about it, the Rams have pulled some rabbits out of their helmets this season.

There was that 28-26 home victory over Seattle in mid October, six days after getting shut down in the second half of a frustrating 31-17 Monday night loss to San Francisco.

On the heels of a 34-7 second-half meltdown at Kansas City, a game in which the Rams lost left tackle Jake Long and wide receiver Brian Quick for the season because of injuries, they rode out of San Francisco with a 13-10 victory over the 49ers in early November.

And then came the ultimate. Following a 31-14 fourth-quarter collapse at Arizona, they dominated yes, dominated Denver 22-7 in quarterback Shaun Hill's return to the starting lineup in mid November.

But if they could somehow, some way pull off the upset Sunday in Seattle over the defending Super Bowl champions, well, that would top them all.

Kickoff is 3:25 p.m. (St. Louis time) in the season finale for the Rams (6-9) and the regular-season sign-off for Seattle (11-4).

"It's the last one," Rams coach Jeff Fisher said. "It's important to us, and we're taking it very seriously."

After last week's bitterly disappointing 37-27 loss to the New York Giants, Fisher said part of his message to the team was, "We want to go into this offseason and offseason program playing good football. That's very important to us."

The Rams have lost nine in a row in Seattle; they haven't won there since a wild-card playoff victory during the 2004 season.

Perhaps defensive end Chris Long best framed the Rams' motivation for this one.

"I'm as excited about our future as ever," he said. "The future starts this weekend. If you want to be somebody competing for the division (title), you've got to be able to go to a place like Seattle and win.

"If we're up there next year playing for something big, which we plan on doing, you want to be able to say, 'OK, we've done this before.' So it's important to us. I really do think we're getting better and better every year. We've just got to get over the hump."

Winning there is more like scaling a mountain than a hump.

Counting playoff games, the Seahawks have won 23 of their last 25 games at the home of the 12th Man.

"Yeah, it's an exciting place," Fisher said. "It's a challenge. It's different than most places in the league. That '12th Man' is unique and special. It's hard to hear and they force mistakes and they take advantage of it."

For the second year in a row, the Rams close a season against a Seattle team with much to play for. As was the case in 2013, the Seahawks are in position to claim the top seed in the NFC and home- field advantage throughout the playoffs with a victory. Or possibly fall to the No. 5 seed and open the playoffs on the road as a wild- card team with a loss.

In a scheduling quirk that gets more peculiar as each season goes by, it's the third year in a row the Rams have played their season finale in Seattle, and the fourth time in the last five seasons. …

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