Seahawks beat Rams 20-9 in defensive slugfest to clinch NFC West
The Seahawks’ defense is for real.
Seattle has the NFC West championship to prove it.
The Seahawks bested the Los Angeles Rams and their vaunted defense, with the offense doing just enough in a stellar second half overall for Seattle to beat LA 20-9, clinching the Hawks’ first NFC West title since 2016 in the process.
Seattle improves to 11-4 with the win while the Rams fall to 9-6. The Seahawks will look to better their seeding for the playoffs next week against San Francisco (6-9), while the Rams will have to deal with the Arizona Cardinals (8-7) to settle their postseason fate.
The Seahawks kept pace with Los Angeles in a true defensive battle in the first half, as field goals accounted for all of the scoring before the teams went into their locker rooms tied 6-6. Seattle took control on its first series of the second half, however, scoring on a 4-yard Russell Wilson touchdown run to make it 13-6.
The Seahawks didn’t trail again, but they didn’t have a comfortable lead until a 13-yard pass from Wilson to tight end Jacob Hollister with less than three minutes remaining put them up by 11.
— NFL (@NFL) December 28, 2020
Seattle’s defense, which has been surging since the Rams beat the Seahawks in Week 10 in Los Angeles, didn’t allow LA into the end zone once the entire game. The Rams came close on their first series of the third quarter, but the Seahawks made stops on four straight runs near the goal line for a huge turnover on downs.
Seattle had a more traditional takeaway in the second quarter when safety Quandre Diggs, who was named a Pro Bowler for the first time in his career last week, made his fifth interception of the year.
The Seahawks pressured Rams quarterback Jared Goff with regularity throughout the game and had a number of important sacks in the second half, including a pair by Jarran Reed that factored into the end of LA’s last two drives. Linebacker Jordyn Brooks (eight tackles, one tackle for loss) and safety Jamal Adams (eight tackles, one pass defensed) were the biggest standouts in a defense full of them on Sunday.
DK Metcalf led Seahawks receivers with six receptions for 59 yards, with Wilson throwing for 225 yards, a touchdown and no inteceptions on 20 of 32 passing. He was sacked five times.
Chris Carson rushed for 69 yards on 16 attempts for Seattle.
Goff was limited to 234 yards on 24 of 43 passing, with no touchdowns and an interception. Seattle got to him for three sacks.
Running back Darrell Henderson Jr. led the Rams rushing attack with 62 yards on 12 carries.
Here’s a quarter-by-quarter look at the Seahawks’ win.
Rams 3, Seahawks 0
In a battle between one of the league’s best defenses (LA) and one that has been surging over the last six weeks, defense was understandably abundant in the first quarter. The Rams made it to the second quarter with the lead, however, because of one reason: success on third down.
On Los Angeles’ second drive of the day, it converted three times on third down – including a 12-yard pass on third-and-11 from Jared Goff to Yakima native and Eastern Washington product Cooper Kupp – and reached Seattle’s 25-yard line. The Seahawks finally got a stop on third-and-7, though, and the Rams settled for a 44-yard Matt Gay field goal to start the scoring.
The Rams were forced into three-and-outs on their first and third series of the quarter, but the Seahawks’ offense had more trouble than that trying to get positive yardage against Los Angeles’ defense. A 9-yard pass from Russell Wilson to Tyler Lockett on second-and-4 from the Seattle 31 was the only first down the Hawks managed on their first two drives.
Seattle got the ball back late in the quarter and got past midfield for the first time after a 12-yard pass to DK Metcalf that was immediately followed by a 10-yard Chris Carson run.
LAR – Matt Gay 44 FG, 6:21
Seahawks 6, Rams 6
The kicker battle was on.
Both Gay and Seattle’s Jason Myers had two field goals in the first half, accounting for all of the scoring as the teams went into halftime deadlocked 6-6.
Each of Myers’ kicks tied the game.
After a pair of big plays at the end of the first quarter got the Seahawks into Rams territory, a 15-yard completion from Wilson to returning tight end Greg Olsen on third-and-6 got Seattle into field goal range. A short run, an incompletion and a sack of Wilson by Leonard Floyd later, and the Hawks had to turn to Myers, who improved to 21 of 21 on the season with a 45-yard field goal to even the score.
The Rams didn’t let it sit there for long. Gay hit from 51 yards to move LA back ahead 6-3 as the Rams picked up 42 yards on 10 plays in their first series of the second quarter.
Seattle punted on its next drive, then dodged a bullet after a huge mistake. Rams punter Johnny Hekker, a Bothell product, was nailed by Ryan Neal on a punt from the LA 19, resulting in a roughing the kicker penalty that allowed Los Angeles to extend its series for another seven plays. The good news for Seattle is that Goff made a mistake of his own, and first-time Pro Bowl safety Quandre Diggs made his fifth interception of the year to give the Seahawks the ball back at their own 35 with 3:31 left in the half.
— Seattle Seahawks (@Seahawks) December 27, 2020
That opened the door for the offense, which made it far enough to give Myers another shot to even the score, which he did from 49 yards with 1:09 on the clock.
Seattle’s defense made a nice stand to force Goff and company into a quick three-and-out that took all of 22 seconds off the clock, and the Hawks’ offense got the ball back deep in its own territory with one last chance to take the lead before halftime. Seattle didn’t make it to midfield before it was time for the break, however.
SEA – Jason Myers 45 FG, 12:48
LAR – Gay 51 FG, 9:38
SEA – Myers 49 FG, 2:27
Seahawks 13, Rams 6
The Seahawks made long drives work in their favor on both sides of the ball.
Wilson and the offense shook off a slow first half to break a 6-6 tie on the first possession of the second half, and the defense made a huge goal-line stop to keep the Rams from cutting into Seattle’s new lead.
First, Wilson led a seven-play, 70-yard drive that ended with him making a 4-yard plunge into the end zone for the first touchdown of the day for either team.
.@DangeRussWilson runs it right in for 6️⃣!
Q3: SEA 13, LAR 6
— Seattle Seahawks (@Seahawks) December 27, 2020
It was a team effort to set up that score. No. 3 wide receiver David Moore had the big play, hauling in a 45-yard bomb from Wilson on third-and-8 that kept the Seahawks from being forced into a three-and-out.
— NFL (@NFL) December 27, 2020
Wilson followed that up with a short pass to Carlos Hyde on a third-and-9 that resulted in an 18-yard gain and set up Seattle’s TD.
The defense struggled to match the offense’s success on the ensuing Rams series, but while Los Angeles was able to make the Seahawks bend about as far as possible, they did not break. Seattle stopped four straight LA runs at the goal line to make the Rams turn the ball over on downs.
Big fourth down stop by the #Seahawks 😤
— NFL (@NFL) December 27, 2020
After getting the ball back, Seattle had to punt from out of its own end zone and nearly ended up with a huge takeaway as Rams return man Nsimba Webster fumbled as he was tackled, but somehow LA was able to recover even though a host of Seahawks players were near the ball when it came loose.
SEA – Russell Wilson 4 run (Myers kick), 10:32
Seahawks 20, Rams 9
The Rams suffered a bad break early in the quarter, as Goff injured his thumb when he hit it on a Seahawks defender’s helmet following through on a throw. He remained in the game, though, and led Los Angeles on a field goal drive as Gay hit his third kick of the day, this time from 33 yards, to cut Seattle’s lead to 13-9.
Seattle couldn’t answer right away as a promising drive was cut short due to a puzzling penalty. Carson converted a third-and-1 with a short rush, but the officials flagged Metcalf for not being set before the Seahawks snapped the ball. As a result, Seattle then faced third-and-6 instead of first-and-10, and an incomplete pass meant Michael Dickson would be called upon to punt.
The Seahawks’ defense had another stop in it, though. On second-and-10 at the 50, Jarran Reed sacked Goff for a 2-yard loss, and the Rams rushed back to the line for a quick snap but missed a pass attempt and had to punt away with about 7:30 to go.
The Seahawks’ offense gave Seattle what it needed when it got the ball back, with Lockett making an impact for the first time all day with catches of 11 and 24 yards, respectively. In between those receptions, Carson busted through for a 15-yard run, and Seattle got itself into the red zone with the clock ticking inside the final four minutes. Wilson laid up a pass for tight end Jacob Hollister in the end zone, who came down with a 13-yard touchdown catch that put the score out of the Rams’ reach.
Reed had another big sack of Goff on the next and final Rams series, this time for a loss of 9 on third-and-10, and a Goff pass to Tyler Higbee was 4 yards short on third-and-14, giving Seattle the opportunity to run out the clock.
SEA – Jacob Hollister 13 pass from Russell Wilson (Myers kick), 2:51