ATL: What We Learned  

 

QB play dooms otherwise stout St. Louis Rams on 'MNF'

It's fitting that Kellen Clemens' game-ending 96-yard drive came up one yard shy of an upset victory in the St. Louis Rams' 14-9 loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Monday night.

In a league in which the haves and have-nots are separated by quarterback stability, the Rams couldn't overcome their handicap under center.

Rookie running back Zac Stacy outgained Marshawn Lynch by 111 yards. Bookend pass rushers Robert Quinn and Chris Long harassed Russell Wilson into six sacks between the two of them. Outside of Golden Tate's 80-yard touchdown, a physical St. Louis defense held the Seahawks to a paltry 55 yards on 39 plays.

The Rams outplayed their counterparts in every area except quarterback and kicker. Those two positions cost them the game.

Don't blame Clemens. NFL teams simply don't survive the loss of a franchise quarterback as true contenders.

Here's what else we learned in Monday's game:

1. Stacy was sent for postgame X-rays after sustaining a sprained left ankle on the final drive. Before the injury, Stacy became just the second running back to clear 100 yards against Seattle this season. Labeled a poor man's Frank Gore on the "Around The League Podcast", Stacy has avoided negative plays while adding a valuable sustaining element as the Rams' most productive offensive player since entering the starting lineup a month ago. It would be a big loss if the ankle injury sidelines Stacy versus the Titans in Week 9.

2. Wilson entered the game as the most pressured quarterback in the league, thanks to an offensive line playing without left tackle Russell Okung and right tackle Breno Giacomini. The Rams hit him at least 10 times, including four sacks in five dropbacks to close out the first half and open the second. Okung and Giacomini should be back by December, allowing the offensive line time to gel for a playoff run.

3. Marshawn Lynch was shut down because the Rams loaded up the box and dared Wilson to beat them through the air with receivers who weren't winning their matchups on the outside. The pending return of Percy Harvin will help, but it's still a concern that the Seahawks coaches didn't trust their injury-depleted offensive line to win the battle of the trenches.

4. This was an especially bad matchup for the Seahawks to play without both starting offensive tackles. ESPN analyst Jon Gruden anointed Quinn the "most dangerous pass rusher" he's seen on film this season. Exceptionally fast and strong with a long wing-span, Quinn leads all NFL defensive ends in combined sacks, hits and hurries through eight weeks.

5. Golden Tate was apologetic about a bone-headed taunting penalty that nearly cost him a touchdown with a one-point lead late in the third quarter. "That was immature of me. Hurt my team. I've gotta stay composed. ... Act like I've been there before," Tate told NFL Media's Michelle Beisner after the game. "I gotta apologize to our special teams. I put them in an awkward situation, but more happy to get up and learn from it and move forward."

6. Disappointing Rams rookie Tavon Austin once again was a non-factor in the return game and on offense. His biggest contribution was a crash-test dummy flop that drew plenty of laughs but no flag.

7. Sidney Rice was forced from the game in the second quarter with a knee injury. Coach Pete Carroll revealed after the game that Rice was also hit in the head. His status for Week 9 versus the Buccaneers is up in the air.

The latest "Around the League Podcast" has takeaways from every Week 8 game.

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