Are the Rams' red-zone problems resurfacing?

(KSDK Sports) -- After the Rams won successive games over Houston and Jacksonville, they were ranked as one of the best red-zone teams in the NFL, scoring touchdowns 66.7 percent of the time (12-for-18) and ranked third.

However, the pendulum has swung the opposite way the last two weeks, and the result has been losses to Carolina and Seattle. Two failures in the first half against the Panthers, including one where a fourth-down play came up short, led to the Rams trailing 17-5 at halftime and eventually losing 30-15.

Monday night against the Seahawks, the Rams reached the red zone four times, settling for three field goals and then being unable to score the winning touchdown on two plays from the Seattle 1-yard line.

The Rams dropped to 17th in the NFL, converting 52 percent.

"It's frustrating," said quarterback Kellen Clemens, who started in place of the injured Sam Bradford. "That's the difference in the game. They scored two touchdowns, we got three field goals. We'll have to be better. I thought we had a good plan going into the game. I just think we need to execute a little better when we're down there."

Said coach Jeff Fisher, "First off, Kellen's first attempt at it, and so that's going to be a reason. I'll just have to go back to Houston being (No.) 1, Carolina being (No.) 3 and Seattle being (No.) 2 in the league in defense. That makes it hard, so that's something we're going to continue to work on."

The Rams ran 13 plays from the red zone, gaining 13 yards. Clemens was 4-for-8 for 11 yards and was sacked for a 6-yard loss. The running game totaled eight yards on four attempts.

In the final possession, which began on their own 3-yard line, running back Zac Stacy got the Rams out of a hole with runs of eight and 18 yards, giving him 134 for the game on 26 carries. Those would be the last yards he gained in the game because of an ankle injury.

His replacement, Daryl Richardson caught a pass for eight yards and had runs of five and 10 yards sandwiched around completions to Chris Givens and Lance Kendricks for 21 and 18 yards. The 10-yard Richardson got the ball to the 6-yard line and he got to the 2 on second down. A Seattle offside penalty moved the ball to the 1, where Richardson was stuffed officially for no gain on third down, but actually lost about three-quarters of a yard.

On fourth down, Stacy re-entered the game, but went in motion, leaving an empty backfield. The Seahawks pressured, and Clemens threw quickly to an unsuspecting wide receiver Brian Quick, who never had a chance to make the catch.

Outgaining Seattle 339-135 and with 23 first downs to the Seahawks' seven, the Rams exited with a loss.

As Clemens said about the final drive, "There was such a great sense of resolve in the huddle as soon as I walked in there. Everybody knew, nobody really had to say anything, everybody just knew, 'Hey this is it, this is go time, let's go make the plays.' We gave ourselves the chance to win at the end, unfortunately didn't make the plays ... "We needed 97 yards and got 96."

Simply Noting
Of Seattle's 135 yards, 80 came on a touchdown pass from quarterback Russell Wilson to wide receiver Golden Tate that Rams cornerback Janoris Jenkins appeared to misjudge. The Seahawks had just 40 plays in the game, so their 39 plays other than the long touchdown gained 55 yards.

The Rams sacked Wilson seven times, with defensive end Robert Quinn and Chris Long getting three each. They also limited running back Marshawn Lynch to 23 yards on eight carries. The Seahawks converted just two of their 11 third-down opportunities.

*One reason for the loss was that the Rams had no takeaways for the second straight game.

Before the last two games, the Rams were tied for fifth in the league with a plus-6 turnover ratio. They are now tied for 12th with two other teams at plus-1. In 24 games with Fisher as head coach, the Rams are 0-9-1 when they have no takeaways in a game. In the other 14 games, they are 10-4.

*Fisher said Tuesday that Stacy was still having tests on his injured ankle, for which he also had X-rays after the game.

Right guard Harvey Dahl, who suffered an injury to his left knee against the Seahawks, was also still having tests Tuesday to determine the severity of the injury. Fisher said the suspicion is that it is an MCL injury, but the degree is what the team is concerned about.

*Running back Benny Cunningham, who has missed the last two games because of an ankle injury, is expected to return to practice this week.

Howard Balzer will be
contributing to KSDK Sports throughout the 2013 season. Howard hosts "H and Friends" Monday-Friday on Fox Sports 1490 The Champ. He is also a host on SiriusXM NFL radio and one of 44 selectors for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.


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