Team effort helps the St. Louis Rams sweep NFC West rival Seattle Seahawks.
It’s the same ol’ story; the Rams look promising early in the season, then disappointing, then devastating, then atrocious, a playoff team, a last-place team, and so on…This week was the ‘playoff team’ appearance in which they all but dominated the playoff-bound Seattle Seahawks in surprising fashion since they came into the game short on defense — even shorter after one half.
The Seattle Seahawks, in their winning 5-game stretch, were looking like the league’s best team not named the Panthers or Cardinals, and the tandem of Russell Wilson and Doug Baldwin were among the hottest passing connection as well having connected for scores ten times in four games. You wouldn’t have known that if you didn’t follow football but watched Sunday’s game against the St. Louis Rams. A game the Rams won rather impressively and convincingly, 23-17, to win their first game in Seattle since 2004.
In possibly their last division match-up with Seattle representing the city of St. Louis, the Rams kept Russell Wilson in check for most of the game and held the Seahawks ground game to 60 yards for the day. Wilson, who had only just recently started getting the respect he deserves, passed for 289 yards and 2 TDS on 21 of 45 attempts, but was harassed constantly. Surprising, it wasn’t Pro Bowl-bound Aaron Donald that gave him most of his grief, it was fill-in lineman William Hayes. Hayes had been filling in for previously-injured DE Chris Long but with Long back, Hayes moved inward alongside DT Nick Fairley. It was there he took over. Russell, in all, was sacked 4 times. He had a few of his amazing scrambles but for the most part he was consistently annoyed at the Rams’ ever-present personnel. By halftime, the Seahawks punted the majority of their possessions back to the Rams and could only muster one field goal while the Rams collected 16 points on a field goal, a fumble return for a score by safety Mark Barron — who leads the team this year in forced fumbles filling in for Alec Ogletree, who usually leads in that category — and their first offensive score when Kenny Britt beat Richard Sherman badly for a 28-yard pass by Case Keenum, the two’s second such strike in as many weeks. Keenum is now 3-0 as a Rams starter this year and clearly the best quarterback on their roster.
The Seahawks scored on their first second-half series and it looked as if a comeback was brewing for a fourth-quarter comeback. Wilson finally found Baldwin in the end zone after the drive consumed nearly half of the entire third quarter. But the Rams’ good fortunes returned at the start of the fourth as two potentially-disastrous fumbles by them were both recovered down field by a hustling lineman, center Tim Barnes. Todd Gurley took it in from inside the 5-yard line and a sense of concern engulfed the Seattle crowd of ,not unlike the first half when the silence turned eerie. Defense on both sides rose up again until the Rams conceded a garbage-time score, Wilson to Jermaine Kearse to salvage some fantasy embarrassment at least.
FIRST QUARTER: Defense would open the game for both teams and force punts, but after pinning the Seahawks back deep, the Rams received the ball at mid-field. A 16-yard pass play to Tavon Austin helped capitalized and Greg Zuerlein nailed a 42-yard FIELD GOAL. Three plays later, linebacker Akeem Ayers picked up a Russell Wilson fumble and returned it 45 yards for a TOUCHDOWN. Score: Rams 10, Seahawks 0
SECOND QUARTER: The quarter featured another INT by the Rams’ Trumaine Johnson but the Rams could not take advantage. When Seattle was backed up near their own goal line, they punted to mid-field but Tavon Austin returned it 21 yards to the Seahawks 28 yard line. The Rams ran one play, a 28-yard strike to a streaking Kenny Britt, who had beaten Richard Sherman badly, for a TOUCHDOWN. Zuerlein’s extra point was missed. Then it took Seattle 16 plays to drive 72 yards, and Steve Hauschka kicked a 26-yard FIELD GOAL seconds before the half. Halftime Score: Rams 16, Seahawks 3
THIRD QUARTER: The Seahawks’ continued the game plan they ended the first with, slow methodical plays to chip away at the aggressive defense’s energy. Their opening drive, aided by a roughing-the-passer penalty and a 25-yard connect to Doug Baldwin, took 11 plays to go 67 yards, and ended on a second successful pass to Baldwin for a 25-yard TOUCHDOWN. Score: Rams 16, Seahawks 10
FOURTH QUARTER: Aware, the Rams offense consumed time of their own, driving 62 yards on 11 plays after surviving two fumbles (both recovered by a hustling center Tim Barnes down field). Todd Gurley took it in from 2 yards out for the TOUCHDOWN. Seattle added a final score with 17 seconds left when a lackluster Rams defense poorly played a Jermaine Kearse 18-yard reception in garbage time. Final Score: Rams 23, Seahawks 17
BALL DON’T LIE
You might read most everywhere else that Seattle (mainly Wilson) simply had an off day but make no mistake, the Ram defense was the main story yet again. And especially in the first half when they not only stopped the runaway train that had won 7 of their last 8, but dominated time of possession, too. Despite losing as many as three players to possible concussions (two of which were already filling in for starters), the Rams performance remained stellar for most of the game. Their sack totally stopped at 4 (3 by William Hayes) but the number of QB hits totaled 13 (6 by William Hayes) — nevermind the hurries. The Seahawk defense, on the other hand had no sacks and no QB hits, and no turnovers to the Rams’ 3. In addition, Seattle could only muster 60 yards on the ground with 5 different carriers, none over 11 yards with the exception of Wilson.
Todd Gurley got going in the second half and appeared on the verge of taking over late, but managed a mild 85 yards on 19 carries (4.5 avg) and a touchdown. Tavon Austin was shadowed throughout (3 rec., 16 yards) and Kenny Britt led Rams receivers with 49 yards on 3 receptions and 1 TD.
Additional Post-game Note
File this under Wait’ll Next Year, but Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett had this to say about running back Todd Gurley after the game: “He’s average to me, personally,” Bennett told reporters. “I’ve seen better running backs. He’s no Marshawn Lynch.”
Bennett, who I’ll [personally]never mistake for the sharpest knife in the drawer, probably should be told these three things: #1) Gurley is a rookie less than a season away from a major injury, and #2) he’s still going to the Pro Bowl and Lynch is not, so “Thanks for the compliment,” and #3) Adrian Peterson will never be Marshawn Lynch either.
The Rams close out their 2015 season facing the San Francisco 49ers.