Los Angeles Rams lose opportunity to play for NFC West title with loss to Seahawks

On a cold December afternoon in Seattle, the Los Angeles Rams watched another opportunity to clinch a playoff berth slip away, along with their opportunity to play for a division title in Week 17.

The Rams fell to the Seattle Seahawks 20-9 in a performance that went as many have gone in a 9-6 season that has coach Sean McVay's team trending in the wrong direction with one regular-season game remaining.

The defense played well and kept pressure on Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, sacking him five times. But the offense failed to score a touchdown for the first time this season behind quarterback Jared Goff. The run game was without rookie breakout performer Cam Akers, who was inactive because of a high-ankle sprain.

The Seahawks improved to 11-4 and clinched the NFC West. If the Rams had won, they would have been able to clinch their third division title in four seasons next week.

After an embarrassing 23-20 loss to the New York Jets in Week 15, the Rams have now lost two straight for the first time this season. Their ability to earn a playoff berth will come down to Week 17, when they host the Arizona Cardinals (8-7) at SoFi Stadium.

The Rams must defeat the Cardinals to clinch a playoff spot or else depend on the Green Bay Packers to defeat the Chicago Bears.

QB performance: Consistently inconsistent. There are few other ways to describe Goff, though on Sunday he also deserved to be labeled tough, as he appeared to pop his own right thumb back into place at the start of the fourth quarter.

In the first half -- outside of a well-established connection with Cooper Kupp on third down -- Goff struggled with accuracy and decision-making. After finding a semblance of rhythm, he haphazardly threw a pass deep into Seattle territory with no Rams in the vicinity, and Seahawks safety Quandre Diggs easily picked it off. The Seahawks converted the turnover into a 49-yard field goal to tie the score 6-6.

That gave Goff 23 games with a turnover since the start of last season, most in the NFL.

Later in the half, Goff took off scrambling on third-and-8 but executed his slide a yard short of a first down, forcing the Rams to punt. It was another head-scratching move from Goff.

Goff was pressured on 15 dropbacks in the first half, the most pressures faced in any half of his career.

The second half didn't yield better results and Goff suffered an apparent thumb injury when his hand hit Benson Mayowa's helmet on the first play of the fourth quarter. Goff finished 24-for-43 for 234 yards, with an interception.

Promising trend: The Rams continue to play dominant defense under first-year coordinator Brandon Staley, who again had a strong game plan against Wilson, as the Pro Bowl quarterback passed for only 84 yards in the first half and was sacked three times. Lesser-known players, such as defensive tackle Sebastian Joseph-Day and defensive end Morgan Fox put pressure on Wilson, as the stars -- defensive tackle Aaron Donald and cornerback Jalen Ramsey -- anchored an aggressive attack. The Seahawks entered Sunday averaging 381 yards and 29.5 points per game, but the Rams held them to 292 and 20, respectively.

Buy a breakout performance: After the Bears threw in the towel on Leonard Floyd, the Rams opted to take a chance and give the fifth-year outside linebacker a fresh start. The one-year, $10 million contract Floyd has almost seems like a bargain for his production on the edge. Floyd sacked Wilson three times in their Week 10 meeting, then took him down twice Sunday. Floyd has 9.5 sacks this season.