Rams and Bobby Wagner motivated against the Seahawks

SEATTLE — Rams middle linebacker Bobby Wagner called it just another game before playing against the Seattle Seahawks the first time, but his emotions on the field said otherwise.

Wagner trash-talked more than usual and celebrated a little longer after his handful of impact plays versus his former team of 10 years.

“I’m a master at controlling my emotions,” Wagner explained last month after the Rams fell short against the Seahawks at SoFi Stadium.

Wagner again referred to himself as the “master of my emotions,” but admitted he might not be able to contain the emotions that will likely come rushing Sunday when he returns to Seattle and steps onto Lumen Field for the Rams’ regular-season finale against the Seahawks.

Wagner, 32, will embrace the cheers he’ll likely receive from Seahawks fans before the game. He’s not afraid to show his emotions, but once the game starts, Wagner will remember how the Seahawks released him this past offseason without warning.

Wagner exact revenge by spoiling Seattle’s playoff hopes. If the Rams (5-11) beat the Seahawks (8-8), that would help the Detroit Lions and turn the Lions’ Sunday night game against the Green Bay Packers into a “win and you’re in” scenario for the NFC’s final wild-card spot.

If the Seahawks beat the Rams, they’ll need the Lions to beat the Packers to receive the seventh seed. The Packers automatically get the playoff spot with a win versus Detroit.

“It’s a lot of emotions, man, to be honest,” Wagner said. “But like I said last time I played them, I’m a master of my emotions. But it’s going into a stadium I’ve been thousands of times, played hundreds of times, and to be in a position to spoil their playoff hopes is always a good position, something worth playing for. It will be fun to go back there, be back in front of those fans that I spend so much time (around) and it should be a fun game.”

Wagner didn’t refer to the second meeting with the Seahawks as just another game. Wagner shared more during his weekly news conference and called Seattle his second home, but also referred to the Seahawks as the team that gave up on him. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider have said they regret how they handled the release of Wagner, who helped the Seahawks win a Super Bowl in 2013.

“I think there was a reason for that and I think it’s different,” Wagner said about showing extra emotion on the field during the first meeting. “I’m pretty sure you played your family before in basketball, golf or whatever. When you play your friend or like that person you met over there, y’all playing, y’all might talk a little trash. It is what it is, but when you’re playing your family member that knows your deepest, darkest secrets and knows exactly what to say to you to make you feel a certain type of way and also you’re playing the organization that you feel gave up on you, so it was warranted, to be honest.

“And then again, I’m playing against people I know how to push their buttons, too, so I know exactly what to say to them to make them mad and I did that.”

Wagner, an Ontario native, decided to return home to Southern California after being cut by the Seahawks and joined the Rams with hopes of winning another Super Bowl. That won’t happen this season, but that doesn’t diminish the impact he’s had on the organization since he’s arrived.

Wagner, a team captain, was voted by his teammates as this season’s Most Valuable Player and needs 10 more tackles to reach 143 total tackles and set the single-season franchise record.

The Rams not only want to spoil the Seahawks’ playoff hopes, they want to win for Wagner.

“It would mean everything for me,” Rams middle linebacker Ernest Jones said about winning Sunday for Wagner. “That (first) Seattle game, I really wanted that for him because I just know for somebody to be in a certain situation as long as they were and mean so much to a city and team, like the way he was let go wasn’t right. So for me, I definitely want to get him this win, I definitely want to get the last say so and get that last ha-ha against Seattle.

“He played his butt off. That’s just him. He hasn’t lost a step and that Seattle game he played lights out then. It wasn’t anything different, but you can tell maybe he wanted the game a little more, but I think that came from all of us.”

The Rams want to win for Wagner and the Lions are hoping they get it done. Many Lions fans likely rooted for their former quarterback Matthew Stafford to win a Super Bowl with the Rams last year. Perhaps the Rams can return the favor by helping Lions quarterback and former Ram Jared Goff get into the postseason. The Rams sent Goff and a handful of draft picks to Detroit in a 2021 trade for Stafford.

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“We want to try to be able to go put together a good performance,” Rams coach Sean McVay said. “Try to win the game. That’d be a good thing to then be able to watch ‘Sunday Night Football’ and see those two (Lions and Packers) duke it out for who gets in.”

The Rams’ wish list for the regular-season finale is topped by winning for Wagner. Spoiling the Seahawks’ playoff hopes might be a close second.

“We can’t go to the playoffs, so why not send them home with us?” Rams wide receiver Brandon Powell said.

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