O’Neil: Rams look like a contender, but Seahawks survive in Los Angeles
LOS ANGELES – The Rams announced themselves as a contender on Sunday, standing toe-to-toe with the Seahawks to the final 5 seconds of a game that was as much a slugfest as it was football.
But in the end, it was the Seahawks who showed they still have that granite chin that defines a contender in this league, holding the Rams off on one final drive.
It was Seattle 16, Los Angeles 10, and it was a whole lot prettier than it sounds. At least it was for Seattle, at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum where a healthy minority of the 60,745 fans were cheering for a Seahawks defense that forced five turnovers in the game, including two in the fourth quarter.
The Rams had one last possession, getting the ball to the Seattle 20 with less than 30 seconds. After downing the ball to stop the clock, three straight incompletions sealed Seattle’s victory – though not before a third-down pass went of the hands of a diving Cooper Kupp.
That was enough to make Blair Walsh’s pair of second-half field goals the only points Seattle needed to win on the road for the first time this season.
Not that it was that straightforward, but with the Seahawks it never is. The Rams had a first-quarter touchdown overturned upon replay review, and the ball was handed to Seattle too. They also missed a 35-yard field goal in the third quarter.
And still, the Rams had chances in the fourth quarter. Three of them.
One ended in a punt. The second ended with Earl Thomas picking off an ill-advised pass from Jared Goff. Then with just under 3 minutes remaining, the Rams had the ball at their own 43 when Frank Clark came roaring around the left edge of the Rams’ line and knocked the ball loose from Goff for a fumble that Sheldon Richardson recovered and returned to the Los Angeles 20.
Richardson intercepted a pass himself in the third quarter. Throw in the muffed punt that cost the Rams a possession and Todd Gurley’s goal-line fumble, which negated a first-quarter touchdown, and the Seahawks defense had itself a day dodging bullets and making off with the goodies.
The Seahawks’ leading rusher was Thomas Rawls. He had 20 yards on the ground. No one had so much as 40 yards receiving. Russell Wilson was 24-for-37 passing for 198 yards and tight end Jimmy Graham scored the Seahawks’ only touchdown.
The Rams hurt themselves. Todd Gurley fumbled away what would have been a touchdown, Earl Thomas knocking the ball loose before Gurley could poke the nose across the goal line in the first quarter. Greg Zuerlein missed a 36-yard field-goal attempt to start the second half.
The Rams outgained the Seahawks 124 yards to 28 in the first quarter and jumped out to a 10-0 lead.
The Seahawks outgained the Rams 144 yards to 28 in the second quarter and climbed back to tie the score 10-10 on Blair Walsh’s 48-yard field goal on the final play of the second quarter.
The Seahawks cost themselves a scoring opportunity, too. They had the ball first-and-goal at the Rams 15, and Russell Wilson thought he had Luke Willson open on a busted coverage. But John Johnson ran in front of Willson, intercepting the pass and returning it 69 yards to put Los Angeles in position for a field goal.