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Originally published Sunday, December 30, 2012 at 7:35 PM

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Rams leave Seattle with pride and a couple regrets

St. Louis' defense was proud of how it contained Russell Wilson and the Seahawks — aside from two plays on Seattle's final drive.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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In what was maybe another slice of validation for the season the Seahawks have had, the St. Louis Rams regarded their close-but-no-cigar loss to Seattle on Sunday as something of a moral victory.

"There weren't too many people who thought this game was going to be close, except us," said Rams coach Jeff Fisher after Seattle's 20-13 win that wasn't settled until an interception in the end zone with 33 seconds remaining. "I'm disappointed we fell short, but I thought it was a tremendous effort by our guys. They have nothing to be disappointed about."

Well, maybe a few things. Specifically, two big plays on Seattle's final drive — a fumble by Marshawn Lynch inside the Seattle 20 that the Rams couldn't control, and then a 44-yard completion from Russell Wilson to Golden Tate three plays later on a third-and-five — that the St. Louis players felt were the difference in the game.

On the long pass play, the Rams blitzed and linebacker James Laurinaitis had a shot at Wilson before Wilson got away and threw to Tate.

"He's slippery," Laurinaitis said. "And he stepped up, and I tried to bend the corner, and you've got to get everything on these quarterbacks (to get them down). I wish I had that one back, that's for sure."

Said Fisher: "You've got to get the quarterback down. We had a chance to get him down and we didn't do it."

That play put the ball at the Rams' 29 and the Seahawks drove easily from there for the winning touchdown.

But none of that would have happened had the Rams been able to corral Lynch's fumble on a play that snapped at the Seahawks' 18 a few minutes earlier.

"Oh my gosh," Laurinaitis said. "We just couldn't get it. You go down to get the ball and they bat it and it's just a dogfight down there. The thing is odd-shaped for a reason. But we've just got to find a way to get that one."

Tate recovered the ball, keeping Seattle's drive alive with just over four minutes left in the game.

Rams defensive tackle Michael Brockers lamented how one little bounce could have altered things.

"Man, it actually went through my legs," Brockers said. "When I saw it, I tried to dive on it but it went through my legs. I wish I would have gotten that one. It would have changed the game."

Brockers was a key part of a St. Louis defensive effort that held the Seahawks far below the 50 points a game that had nearly become regular the past three weeks, doing so in large part thanks to six sacks.

The Rams came into the game tied for third in the NFL in sacks with 46, so the Seahawks knew they'd have a challenge.

Brockers said the way Wilson had scrambled of late made the Rams even more intent on trying to keep him in the pocket.

"We pressed the pocket," Brockers said. "We knew he was a very shifty guy and we knew if we collapsed the pocket around him he couldn't really get out. You can pop the gap and bring him down and that was our biggest success of the day was pressing that pocket and not letting him make too many plays with his feet."

Wilson ultimately made just enough, though, to send the Rams home without their goal of a winning record for the first time since going 12-4 in 2003. The Rams instead finished 7-8-1 in their first season under Fisher.

Still, the Rams felt they made a statement. Laurinaitis said he remembered lots of games in Seattle "where if you are down at halftime, you are hoping for a miracle. The attitude now is night-and-day."

Several talked later of how they expect next year to join the fray for the top of the division with the 49ers and Seahawks, creating what they think will be one of the best divisions in the NFL.

"I think those guys in that room can stand up and look people in the eye and say 'the Rams are back,' " Fisher said. "And that's what we wanted to accomplish this year."

Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or bcondotta@seattletimes.com.

On Twitter @bcondotta.

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