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Undefeated Rams come back late, hold off Seahawks 33-31

Rams RB Todd Gurley rushed for three touchdowns in a win over the Seahawks. (AP)

Last December, the Los Angeles Rams handed the Seattle Seahawks one of the most decisive losses at home of the Pete Carroll era.

On Sunday, the Seahawks still lost, but it was a much different affair.

O’Neil: Seahawks kept in stepInstant Reaction | Photos | Stats

The Seattle defense held down the NFL’s top-ranked offense enough for Russell Wilson and company to keep up, but a few mistakes in the fourth quarter were the difference as the Rams remained undefeated with a 33-31 victory.

Here’s a quarter-by-quarter recap of the Seahawks’ loss.

First quarter

Seahawks 7, Rams 7

Frank Clark has food poisoning that kept him out of practice leading into the game, but the talented defensive end didn’t look any worse for wear early on against the Rams. On the first series of the day, Clark sacked Rams quarterback Jared Goff and forced a fumble, leading to a Los Angeles punt as Goff recovered the ball. While that play didn’t result in a takeaway, Clark did come up with a turnover on the next series, picking off a Goff pass in the end zone and showing off some impressive ball-carrying skills on a 26-yard return.

That interception, the first of Clark’s career, was a team effort. Rookie cornerback Tre Flowers was all over Rams running back Todd Gurley on a crossing route, knocking the ball up, where it was tipped up again by linebacker Bobby Wagner. That’s when it found its way into Clark’s hands.

That put momentum on Seattle’s side, and the Seahawks did something with it. Though Russell Wilson and the offense went three-and-out in Seattle’s first series of the day, the Seahawks went 74 yards over nine plays to take the initial lead of the game. Running backs Chris Carson and Mike Davis, who each have a 100-yard game to their credit over the past two weeks, were a nice 1-2 punch on the march to the end zone. Carson picked up 29 yards on four carries in the drive, including a 16-yard rush that got Seattle to the Rams’ 10 yard line, while Davis had eight yards on two runs, including a 6-yard touchdown.

It wasn’t the run game by itself that gave Seattle the lead, however. Wilson found tight end Nick Vannett over the middle for a 32-yard pass that was the biggest play of the drive.

Unfortunately for Seattle, the Rams didn’t waste any time coming up with an equalizer. Blake Countess returned Sebastian Janikowski’s kickoff 35 yards to give Los Angeles great field position at its own 42. Five plays later the Rams were in the end zone thanks to a 27-yard pass from Goff to Yakima native Cooper Kupp, a 19-yard pass to Gurley (after a previous one that was a loss of 6), then runs of 16 and 2 by Gurley for the score.

SEA – Mike Davis 6 run (Sebastian Janikowski kick), 4:30
LAR – Todd Gurley 2 run (Cairo Santos kick), 2:00

Second quarter

Seahawks 17, Rams 17

The Seahawks stood up to the NFC’s lone undefeated team through two quarters, as their defense held down the Rams just enough for the offense to keep pace for a 17-17 deadlock at halftime.

The Rams twice had an answer to take the lead from the Seahawks in the second quarter. First was a 19-yard field goal by Cairo Santos, which really was a victory for Seattle as it stuffed Todd Gurley at the 1 on third down to make L.A. settle for three points even though it put the Rams ahead 10-7. Issues with tackling resulted in an eight-play, 70-yard touchdown drive for the Rams later in the quarter, however, with Cooper Kupp bringing in a 6-yard TD pass from Jared Goff to make it 17-14 Los Angeles.

In between those two Rams scores, however, was a huge touchdown pass from Seahawks QB Russell Wilson to Tyler Lockett. Wilson got L.A. to bite on a play-action fake, and the speedy Lockett found himself all alone in the end zone for an easy 39-yard TD. The Seahawks had an answer after Kupp’s touchdown, too, with Sebastian Janikowski hitting a field goal from 52 yards to even things up again just after the two-minute warning.

The Rams were able to get into Seahawks territory in the final seconds of the half, but a Hail Mary was picked off by Tedric Thompson as time expired.

On that same drive, Thompson levied a nasty hit on Rams wide receiver Brandin Cooks, and while the play was negated by a holding call, Cooks went into concussion protocol as the hit appeared to knock him out.

LAR – Santos 19 FG, 11:16
SEA – Tyler Lockett 39 pass from Russell Wilson (Janikowski kick), 9:11
LAR – Cooper Kupp 6 pass from Jared Goff (Santos kick), 6:08
SEA – Janikowski 52 FG, 2:00

Third quarter

Seahawks 31, Rams 24

David Moore entered the second half of the Seahawks’ game against the Rams with no career touchdowns in the NFL. He took two into the fourth quarter.

A pair of touchdown passes from Russell Wilson to Moore – a 3-yarder that had to be reviewed and a 30-yarder that was much more definitive – had the Seahawks in the lead going into the final frame against the undefeated Rams.

There was a better chance of Seattle’s defense protecting that lead, too, with Los Angeles having lost two top receivers – Brandin Cooks and Cooper Kupp – to concussion protocol.

Los Angeles remained in striking distance thanks to a 2-yard score by Todd Gurley, which occurred between Moore’s two TDs. The Rams handled Gurley the ball three times in a row near the goal line to eventually find paydirt.

Each series of the third quarter resulted in a touchdown, save for the last by the Rams, which was ongoing as the frame ended.

SEA – David Moore 3 pass from Wilson (Janikowski kick), 10:43
LAR – Gurley 2 run (Santos kick), 5:04
SEA – Moore 30 pass from Wilson (Janikowski kick), 1:35

Fourth quarter

Rams 33, Seahawks 31

After a third quarter in which each team scored a touchdown every time it got the ball, the Rams and Seahawks took turns leaving the door open for their opponents.

For the Rams, that came with Santos missing a PAT following a 5-yard Gurley touchdown (his third of the day) on the second play of the fourth, momentarily keeping the Seahawks in a 1-point lead. But when Santos made a 39-yard field goal later on, it kept it possible for Seattle to win the game if it made a field goal of its own.

The Seahawks, meanwhile, were the first team to not end a drive with a touchdown after halftime. They were forced to punt on their first series of the fourth, which led to Santos’ field goal putting the Rams ahead.

Seattle missed another opportunity after that, too. A 44-yard pass from Wilson to Lockett put the Seahawks in field goal range, but a false start penalty on Germain Ifedi and holding call on D.J. Fluker took them out of range, forcing them to punt with the two-minute warning looming and needing the ball back to win.

The Seahawks’ defense stood up against the top-ranked offense, however, with Thompson making a big hit on Gurley on third-and-1, but the Rams decided to go for it on fourth down. It was the right call – Goff picked up 2 yards on a keeper and Los Angeles was able to kneel the clock down to zero.

LAR – Gurley 5 run (kick failed), 14:54
LAR – Santos 39 FG, 6:09