The 2022 Los Angeles Rams season has been a disappointing one to say the least. Coming off of a Super Bowl championship, nobody expected the Rams to be 5-11 with nothing to play for heading into the final week of the season.
While the chants of ‘run it back’ may have been unrealistic as no team has done it since 2003-04, nobody could have foreseen this. This season has included a Rams offense that has been shutout in the second half on four separate occasions.
The injuries have been devastating. The offensive line started 12 different combinations in the first 12 games of the season. Matthew Stafford, Cooper Kupp, Allen Robinson, and Aaron Donald have all been placed on injured reserve. Of course, we also can’t forget the Cam Akers drama before the trade deadline.
This season has been exhausting. You could argue even more so than the one last year that lasted 22 weeks and ended with the Rams hoisting the Lombardi trophy.
The hand that the Rams have been dealt this season isn’t one that anybody wanted, but it’s the one that they were stuck with. If they learn from this and bounce back in 2023, the 2022 season won’t be for naught.
"This year has been, in my opinion, a professional failure. It's been humbling. It's been challenging." -- Rams HC Sean McVay, open and honest on the podium right now.— Peter Schrager (@PSchrags) January 4, 2023
However, this season is not over and there is still one more game to play. No, the Rams won’t be fighting for a playoff spot. With no first round pick, there’s also no incentive to losing on Sunday.
Despite having almost nothing to play for on Sunday, the Rams might actually be in the best spot. They have the opportunity to knock a division rival completely out of the playoffs. With a win on Sunday, the Rams would knock the Seattle Seahawks out of the playoffs and leave the door open for the Detroit Lions to sneak in on Sunday Night Football.
Wouldn't it be sweet to see Bobby Wagner deny his old team a playoff run and then have Jared Goff show the NFL what he’s capable of in the spotlight?
Now, let’s make one thing clear. As Rams fans, the San Francisco 49ers are absolutely the team’s number one rival. That’s been one good thing about the move to Los Angeles. The rivalry between the Rams and 49ers has been rejuvenated.
With all of that being said, growing up as a fan of the St. Louis Rams, the Seahawks were the team that I despised the most. The rivalry between the Rams and 49ers lost its aura outside California and the Seahawks jumped in and took their place. I’m sure many other younger generation Rams fans feel the same way.
Watching as a sixth-grader back in 2006, I watched as the 4-1 Rams team under new head coach Scott Linehan jump out to a 21-7 first half lead at the Edward Jones Dome. Behind two Matt Hasselbeck touchdown passes, the Seahawks scored 20 unanswered to lead 27-21.
As they had so many times before, Marc Bulger connected with Torry Holt who made one of the best catches of his career and the Rams once again led, 28-27. However, even back in 2006 the Rams defense was giving up late drives. In 1:38, Seattle marched down the field and Josh Brown kicked a 54-yard field goal as the Rams lost 30-28.
That Rams team never seemed to recover as it marked the first of five consecutive losses and they finished 8-8. That game was also the third of ten consecutive losses to the Seahawks.
The following year, my parents took me to St. Louis to watch the Rams play the Seahawks. I was left standing heartbroken as Gus Frerotte fumbled the snap on fourth-and-goal from the one-yard line with Steven Jackson waiting to score the go-ahead touchdown right behind him. The Rams lost 24-19.
Fast forward to 2010 and with new rookie quarterback Sam Bradford taking the league by storm (probably an exaggeration), the Rams ended that losing streak with a 20-3 win. To say I was confident going into the Week 17 ‘win or go home’ game with the Seahawks starting Clipboard Jesus aka Charlie Whitehurst was an understatement. There was no way SJ39 was going to let the Rams lose this game.
The Rams lost 16-6 and once again missed the playoffs. They would win just two games the following season.
In 2013, one game following Bradford tearing his ACL against the Panthers, I watched in my college dorm as the Rams played the Seahawks on Monday Night Football. Zac Stacy put together an incredible 134 yard performance. However, on 4th-and-goal at the one with the game on the line, Brian Schottenheimer opted for a Kellen Clemens fade to Brian Quick in the back of the end zone. Quick ran the wrong route.
It simply doesn’t end. Earlier this season, the Rams led 23-20 after scoring a touchdown with 2:56 remaining. After scoring just two field goals the entire second half, Geno Smith marched the Seahawks down the field to score the game-winning touchdown with 36 seconds remaining.
Yes, the Rams have gotten the best of the Seahawks at times. Most recently of course was the 2020 playoff game in Seattle that saw Goff take over and win with a broken thumb. The cherry on top was Jeff Fisher’s Rams pulling out special teams tricks and winning in 2014.
One of the wildest SPECIAL TEAMS trick plays you’ll ever see— Special Teams (@specialteamspod) June 3, 2020
Oct 19, 2014: Stedman Bailey @iamSB3, who ended up catching the punt was lined up on the gunner on the far side of the field. Not a single Seahawk saw him catch the football, all eyes were on Tavon Austin @TayAustin01 pic.twitter.com/4T0GulKyi2
In my mind, the Seahawks in a way ruined part of my childhood. I was hurting with Green Bay Packers fans when Brandon Bostick had an onside kick bounce off his chest.
The Seahawks enter this week as favorites. Smith has played at a top-10 level this season and at 6-3 at one point earlier this year, Seattle may even deserve the final playoff spot. Pete Carroll has done a fabulous job with a team that many didn’t see winning more than five games.
No, the Rams don’t have much of anything to play for on Sunday when they travel to Seattle. However, spoiling the playoff chances of a division rival that has overachieved in a lost season would certainly be a silver lining.