Seahawks lock up NFC West title with 24-3 victory over Rams
Dec 15, 2016, 8:52 PM | Updated: 11:32 pm
The pass rush that had evaporated the last three weeks was back to being formidable.
The quarterback who had suffered through his worst game as a pro turned in a certifiably 24-karat performance.
In other words, the Seahawks looked like themselves. Well, except for the neon green uniforms and the fact that they drubbed a Rams team that has typically given them all sorts of fits.
The Seahawks’ 24-3 victory wasn’t exactly a thing of beauty, but it was undeniably effective as Seattle clinched the NFC West title. It’s the fourth division title Seattle has won in Pete Carroll’s seven seasons as head coach, and it guarantees Seattle a fifth consecutive playoff berth. At 9-4-1, Seattle is guaranteed at least one home playoff game.
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There wasn’t much doubt about that by the time the second half rolled around, the Seahawks defense choking off what has been the worst offense in the league. Seattle’s defense had four sacks, 1.5 going to Cliff Avril.
Meanwhile, Russell Wilson bounced back from last Sunday’s debacle in Green Bay by completing 19 of 26 passes for 229 yards and three touchdowns. His only interception of the game was thrown with 3:08 left when Seattle was already leading by 21.
Tyler Lockett made the most of more opportunities, catching seven passes for 130 yards and a touchdown.
The Seahawks knocked the Rams’ rookie quarterback Jared Goff out of the game in the fourth quarter, cornerback Richard Sherman making a B-line for Goff on a scramble, hitting him as the quarterback went out of bounds on a play that was nullified by a penalty for offensive holding.
The Seahawks lost two players to possible concussions as both defensive lineman Michael Bennett and then punter Jon Ryan appeared to be rendered unconscious on the field during the fourth quarter. Both players walked off on their own, but each was taken to the locker room and did not return.
This was the 10th time the Seahawks had played the Rams since Wilson entered the league, but only the fourth time Seattle scored more than 20 points against the Rams. It was only the third time in that span that a game between these teams was decided by more than seven points.
There were no points for either team despite the best efforts of each defense to let a receiver run free.
The Rams’ Michael Thomas ran past free safety Steven Terrell, only to have Thomas drop a pass from Jared Goff that would have gained more than 40 yards and might have put the Rams in the end zone. The Rams still put the ball inside the Seattle 20 with a later 25-yard completion to Brian Quick.
The Rams had the ball inside the Seattle 10, but turned it over on downs when Todd Gurley’s fourth-down run – which officials initially ruled was enough for the first down – was overturned on replay.
The Seahawks had a big-play opportunity on their ensuing possession on a trick play only to have Russell Wilson underthrow an open Doug Baldwin, who also tripped in the end zone.
First, the Seahawks drove 93 yards for the game’s first touchdown, picking up a fourth-and-1 conversion from the Rams’ 13 because of a defensive holding penalty. One play later, the Seahawks scored on Luke Willson’s 8-yard touchdown catch.
The Seahawks didn’t need to move the ball a yard for their second score. That’s because they got the ball at the Rams 31 after a trick play backfired on the Rams like a banana in the exhaust pipe.
The Rams faked a punt from their own 31 (!), and punter Johnny Hekker short-armed a pass that landed 3 yards in front of the intended receiver. The Rams’ punter has been a lethal passer against the Seahawks. He threw for a touchdown on a fake field-goal attempt in 2012. He completed a fourth-down pass on a fake punt in 2014, deep in the Rams’ own end of the field, helping the Rams chew up critical time. This time, Hekker’s throw put the Seahawks in scoring position as they kicked a field goal four plays later.
The Rams scored their first points of the game with less than a minute remaining, settling for a field goal after the drive stalled out inside the Seattle 20.
Sea – Luke Willson 8 pass from Russell Wilson (Steven Hauschka kick) at 12:21 (Drive: 13 plays, 93 yards, 6:47). Score: Seahawks 7, Rams 0.
Sea – Hauschka 48 field goal at 8:45 (Drive: 4 plays, 0 yards, 2:03). Score: Seahawks 10, Rams 0.
LA – Greg Zuerlein 26 field goal at 0:55 (Drive: 8 plays, 51 yards, 3:39). Score: Seahawks 10, Rams 3.
If football players still wore jock straps, Troy Hill’s would have been around his ankles the way that Doug Baldwin got him to bite on a fake. It was an ankle-breaking move that Allen Iverson would have been proud of, and it left Baldwin wide open for a 1-yard touchdown.
Sea – Doug Baldwin 1 pass from Russell Wilson (Hauschka kick) at 3:12 (Drive: 8 plays, 62 yards, 4:37). Score: Seahawks 17, Rams 3.
The Rams didn’t gain a first down on either of their first two possessions of the second half. In fact, they didn’t get the ball outside their own 21. Meanwhile, Seattle scored its second touchdown of the second half on a 52-yard catch by Tyler Lockett. It was the third-longest completion for the Seahawks this season, and the second reception of more than 50 yards for Lockett against the Rams. He had a 53-yard catch in the fourth quarter of Seattle’s 9-3 loss in Week 2.
Sea – Tyler Lockett 57 pass from Wilson (Hauschka kick) at 14:49 (Drive: 5 plays, 67 yards, 1:43). Score: Seahawks 24, Rams 3.