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(Reuters) - The Seattle Seahawks made a last-second defensive stand at the goal line to produce a 14-9 victory against the St. Louis Rams on Monday in a tough road test for the NFC leaders.
St. Louis had driven the length of the field on the game's final possession and had two chances to score from Seattle's one-yard line but the Seahawks' defense stopped a running play and then forced an incompletion as time expired.
"We needed 97 yards and got 96," St. Louis quarterback Kellen Clemens told reporters after starting the last drive on his own three-yard line.
"They scored two touchdowns and we had three field goals. That's the difference in the game."
It was the third successive victory for Seattle (7-1), who regained a half-game edge over New Orleans (6-1) atop the NFC despite being outplayed by the Rams.
St. Louis (3-5) held the ball for more than 38 of the game's 60 minutes and had 339 net offensive yards to the Seahawks' 135 but could not find a way into the endzone.
Seattle's Russell Wilson tossed a touchdown pass in the second quarter for a 7-3 lead and put the visitors 14-6 ahead on an 80-yard strike to Golden Tate in the third.
The Rams kept moving the ball, but could only manage three field goals from Greg Zuerlein, the last coming with 12:51 remaining in the game.
Clemens, playing in place of Sam Bradford, who tore his ACL last week, completed only 15-of-31 passes and had two interceptions.
The St. Louis offense was led by rookie Zac Stacy, who ran for 134 of the team's 200 rushing yards. Stacy was not in the game for the final decisive plays after suffering a sprained ankle in the fourth quarter.
On defense, the Rams pressured Seattle QB Wilson, sacking him seven times and restricting him to only 139 yards passing but he survived the onslaught without giving up a turnover.
Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman had an interception that set up Seattle's first score in the second quarter.
"Our guys kept hanging in there. It was a difficult night," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "They ran the ball down our throat. We were very fortunate to get out of here with a win."
Writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; Editing by John O'Brien