By Danny O’Neil
ST. LOUIS — It was an exhilarating end to an excruciating game.
A dramatic conclusion to an often-times dismal performance.
And when the Rams’ final pass fell harmlessly incomplete in the corner of the end zone, Seattle had won not by the skin of its teeth so much as a single yard in a 14-9 victory at the Edward Jones Dome.
For four quarters St. Louis largely outplayed Seattle, sacking quarterback Russell Wilson seven times and outgaining the Seahawks 335 yards to 135.
But for four plays in the final minute, Seattle kept St. Louis outside of the end zone, stuffing the Rams on a third-and-goal run from the 1 and then watching as quarterback Kellen Clemens’ final pass fell incomplete, intended for receiver Brian Quick, who never turned around until the ball landed.
Seattle won 14-9 thanks to two touchdown catches by Golden Tate, including an 80-yard reception in which he accounted for more than half of Seattle’s total offense and then drew 15 yards for taunting the Rams’ safety en route to the end zone.
The significance: Seattle won its sixth straight game within the division, improved to 7-1 for the first time in franchise history. If Seattle wins one of its three remaining road games it will match the franchise record for road victories in a season with five.
Play of the game: Tate doubled Seattle’s scoring output and nearly tripled its offensive production with his 80-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter. It was a remarkable play, Tate coming back to the ball and jumping in front of cornerback Janoris Jenkins. Tate kept his feet and outran Rams safety Rodney McLeod to the end zone, adding a wave that drew three flags and one 15-yard penalty for taunting. Seattle had 42 yards of total offense before Tate’s touchdown.
Turning point: It wasn’t until the very final play, St. Louis facing fourth-and-goal at the Seattle 1 and needing a touchdown. Seattle had its nickel defense on the field, cornerback Walter Thurmond blitzed from the outside and Brandon Browner defended the pass that fell incomplete to preserve Seattle’s victory.
Player of the game: Rams defensive end Robert Quinn had three sacks in the first half, two coming on back-to-back plays in the final minute of the second quarter. He was the first player to have three sacks against the Seahawks this season.
The good: Bruce Irvin started his junior-college career as a safety, was drafted to play defensive end and is starting at linebacker. Any questions about his coverage ability should have been answered with the way he defended a wheel route to St. Louis tight end Lance Kendricks in the first quarter, intercepting the pass over his shoulder. Tate scored the only touchdown of the first half on a third-down pass from Wilson. Cornerback Richard Sherman picked off Clemens in the second quarter for his fourth interception of the season. He is one of seven players now tied for the league lead with four picks, a group that includes Seattle teammate Earl Thomas.
The bad: Seattle’s total offense in the first quarter: minus-1 yard. The Rams scored first, taking a 3-0 lead on Greg Zuerlein’s 33-yard field goal with 4:37 left in the first quarter. It was only the second time this season the Seahawks did not score first in a game. The Seahawks gave up five rushes of 10 yards or more in the first half. Seattle allowed 97 yards rushing in the first half, which is more rushing yards than the Seahawks gave up in the previous two games combined.
The ugly: Guard J.R. Sweezy was penalized twice in the first 11 minutes, once for hands to the face and later for holding. The latter penalty nullified a 16-yard gain by Marshawn Lynch. The Rams were called for three penalties on one play in the second quarter, the Seahawks declining a pair of personal-foul penalties against St. Louis so they could accept a pass-interference penalty that gave Seattle first-and-goal at the St. Louis 1. With 8:28 left in the game, Seattle had 127 yards of total offense and had cost itself 82 yards in penalties.
Go figure: Seattle’s offense gained 38 yards in the first half on 25 plays. Seattle’s defense gained 46 yards on two interception returns in the first half.
Seattle: WR Sidney Rice suffered a knee injury in the second quarter and did not return. Sherman stayed down after a play in the third quarter, but jogged off on his own and returned the next series.
St. Louis: G Harvey Dahl suffered a knee injury in the third quarter and did not return.
Seattle: QB B.J. Daniels, S Jeron Johnson, FB Derrick Coleman, T Breno Giacomini, T Caylin Hauptmann, DE Benson Mayowa, DT Jordan Hill.
St. Louis: QB Brady Quinn, RB Isaiah Pead, RB Benny Cunningham, G/C Barrett Jones, DT Matt Conrath, G/T Mike Person, DE Gerald Rivers.