Seahawks cruise by Rams to secure division championship, 1st round playoff bye
SEATTLE -- The Seattle Seahawks beat the St. Louis Rams 27-9 Sunday at CenturyLink Field to secure a NFC West Division Championship, a first round playoff bye and the all-important home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
Sunday was lucky win number 13 for the Seahawks, matching a team record from 2005. And just like in 2005, the road to the Superbowl goes through Seattle.
Sunday's win over the Rams went a long way in easing some doubt among Seahawks' faithful, after the team limped into the game following a 17-10 loss at home to the Arizona Cardinals last week.
Quarterback Russell Wilson followed perhaps his worst game of the year with a solid 15-for-23 performance that included one touchdown pass and 172 yards. Marshawn Lynch came within 3 yards of wracking up his first 100-yard rushing game in more than five games, ending the game with 97 yards and one touchdown.
The Seahawks will face the 49ers, Packers, Saints, or Cowboys in the NFC Divisional Round Playoffs. The Carolina Panthers secured the Number 2 spot in the NFC following a win over the Atlanta Falcons.
Scoring against the Rams started off like one might expect for the Seahawks of late with linebacker Malcolm Smith picking off Kellen Clemens with 10:01 first quarter. He ran it back for a 37-yard pick 6. The Hawks then failed to convert on two long drives in the second quarter and were force to settle for two field goals. But the offense appeared to come alive in the third quarter, scoring a TD with 2:25 left in the third following a series of Rams' penalties. The team backed up the short run a few possessions later with a 47-yard pass from Russell Wilson to Golden Tate to put the Hawks up 27-3.
The game was rough-and-tumble throughout, with the Hawks' seven penalties for 65 yards eclipsed by the Rams 12 penalties for 87 yards. The victory marked the second divisional title for the Hawks under head coach Pete Carroll.
The Hawks will go into a first-week playoff bye monitoring Brandon Mebane, who left with a hip injury and Luke Willson, who was taken out of the game in the third quarter with what appeared to be a devastating leg injury. His status was not available immediately after the game.
The Seahawks ended the regular season with a plus-20 turnover ratio, the best in the NFL.
After a one week bye, the Seahawks will head into the playoffs the weekend of Jan. 11 at CenturyLink Field.
Live updates from the game
-- Rams Go for 2 in an attempt to make it a two-score game. Seahawks lead 27-9 with 4:13 left in the fourth quarter.
-- Six minutes to play. The top seed in the NFC is within reach...
-- Rams passing up the middle for short games. We'll take that all day. Rams only have 92 yards of offense in the game.
-- Lets stay away from injuries as this game looks about wrapped up with 9:14 left to go.
-- TOUCHDOWN SEAHAWKS. A lot like the first game against the Rams with the long completion from Wilson to Tate. That puts the Hawks up 27-7 with 9:14 left to go in the 4th Quarter.
-- Lynch is close to that 100 yard mark for the first time in five weeks. It's good to see him back in form. 92 yards on 13 carries.
-- Clinton McDonald with the sack on Clemens. Seahawks get force the Rams to punt. The Division Champs banner is looking a little closer with 11:39 left to play.
-- They brought the cart out for Luke Willson, the rookie tight end. They blue up his leg with an air splint. That's never good news, so lets hope he's OK. Brandon Mebane is also out with a hip issue.
-- Wilson is 11-for-19 with 111 yards and a passer rating of 74.7.
-- Rams get the ball on their own 4-yard line after all those penalties. Emotions are still running high. Rams have -1 yards of rushing so far this game.
-- Chants of Seahawks are coming down. Marshawn Lynch has 83 yards on 20 carries. Rams are getting "verbal abuse of an official" penalty call on the Rams. The penalties are reigning down.
-- After a bevy of unsportsmanlike conduct calls, the Seahawks take it in to the house on a Marshawn Lynch run. Seahawks go up 20-3 with 2:21 to go in the third quarter.
-- It looks like number 98 of the defense accidentally bumped into the official and he was kicked out of the game. He threw his his helmet then. Tough to see him get that first penalty, but he probably shouldn't have thrown his helmet.
-- Pete Carroll getting in between guys as they scrum on the outside. Personal foul brings the Hawks to within 11 yards of TD. Emotions are running high.
-- Great completion from Russell Wilson to Tate for a gain of 19. Those long passes from Wilson to Tate when Wilson has to scramble are a thing of beauty.
-- Beast Mode is coming in to play. Lynch has 80 yards into the 3rd quarter.
-- Where is Michael Robinson? Are we the only ones who think some fullback action would help the run game? Luckily, they convert and 3rd and 1 to get the first down near 34.
-- Rams get on the board with a field goal. They still trail the Seahawks 13-3 with 10:49 left in the 3rd quarter. Still holding our breath as Richard Sherman is wincing in pain.
-- Richard Sherman is up and running off the field. We held our breath for a minute while he was rolling around in agony. But he jogged off the field, so we have our fingers crossed.
-- The longest punt return of the year against Seattle. A 33-yard return. They're on the 32- yard line. The run defense is still impeccable. They're on the Seattle 18.
-- It's third and long after Wilson is forced to get rid of it. Why have they stopped handing the ball to Lynch? It's third and 29 on the 6 yard line. The Hawks are forced to punt.
-- On 3rd and 1, the Hawks bat down Clemens' pass and the Rams are forced to punt. Golden Tate takes a punishing hit on the punt return after nearly fumbling the ball. He gets up and looks good though.
-- Seahawks have 5 penalties for 46 yards. But the rush defense is just unbelievable.
-- The Seahawks have allowed negative 2 yards of rushing in the first half. They also have 2 interceptions. Rams are damned if they do, damned if they don't.
Seahawks lead the Rams 13-0 at the end of the first half
-- A touchdown is negated by a Russell Okung holding penalty. Good call by the refs. Hauschka has to kick the field goal. No touchdown by the Hawks in the first half. Hawks are up 13-0 with 3 seconds left to go in the first half.
-- 17 seconds remaining with the Hawks on the 7.
-- Another third down conversion from the Hawks on a nice pass from Wilson to Tate. 30 seconds remaining in the first half. Wilson is looking good, and he's 7-for-12.
-- Seattle picks up its first third down of the game. It's their first third down conversion since the first quarter against the Cardinals.
-- Would really like to see a Seahawks drive here before the end of the half. Wilson has been sacked three times, and he just took another one stepping up in the pocket.
-- Make that 132 false starts since 2005. We have the loudest crowd in football and shows.
-- Another great punt from John Ryan.
-- Can't blame that incomplete pass on Russell Wilson. Wilson just flat out dropped it. Seahawks go 3-and-out after the interception.
-- Another interception from the Seahawks secondary. Brandon Mebane pressures Clemens and Byron Maxwell gets his fourth interception of the year. Is this the best secondary in the NFL?
-- Hauschka gets back to normal form to put the Hawks up 10-0 with 6:18 with a 28-yard field goal.
-- Great busted play action from Wilson to Miller. That's the Russell Wilson we've grown to know and love, extending plays with his feet.
-- After the penalty, Lynch goes to 35 of the Rams. Love seeing Michael Robinson in as fullback. Lynch is getting it going here.
-- Nice 9-yard pass to Golden Tate for the first down. Hashtag babysteps to get the offense going.
-- How many penalties have we seen so far? There was four on one play. They all seem to negate each other because they offset.
-- Is this one of the most physical games we've seen in a while?
-- Seahawks defense has looked great so far. St. Lous has 41 yards on 15 plays, one interception and they gave up a touchdown. Both teams are 0-for-3 with on third downs.
-- Wilson goes down on third down. On the punt John Ryan is knocked down and the referees call out four fouls. Three are on the Rams and one on Seattle. All of those fouls offset and they have to punt again. Recardo Lockette has one of the biggest punt hits we've ever seen.
-- Finally, Lynch gets a bit of a run. Nice hole for Lynch made by Breno Giacomini. Good to see Lynch get into the hole. Would like to see more of that today.
-- Michael Bennet with the sack! Bennett gets a little of that shake to go with that sack.
-- On third down for the rams, both teams are 0-for-2 so far. The Seahawks have gone three and out twice so far. We're really watching the offense to see if they can get it together.
-- That's one of the first penalties for the most penalized team in the NFL. Kam Chancellor came in with a late hit and is penalized for 15 yards. The penalty is followed by the 131nd fall start from an opposing team since 2005.
-- Paul Allen is in the house. Good to see the owner at CenturyLink Field.
-- Lynch is struggling to get yards early. He has three carries for zero yards. Wilson went a little high in his pass on third down again, and Tate can't get the first down.
-- On third and long, Kellen Clemens and the Rams are forced to punt after a missed long pass. Golden Tate is back to recieve the punt and calls a fair catch on about the Seahawks 30. Wilson will take over for the second time today.
-- They said it would be hard for back-up quarterback Clemens to come to CenturyLink and get the win. Looks like it got just a little bit harder.
-- Interception and TOUCHDOWN SEAHAWKS. Pick 6 for Malcom Smith. Interception on the 40 and a drive to the house. That was the 27th interception by the Seahawks, and they are plus 19 for the year. Seahawks go up 7-0 with 9:50 left in the first quarter.
-- Three of the four Seahawks starting secondary players were voted to the pro bowl. The Rams are driving a little bit and up on their own 37. They seem to like those quick passes to the recievers for smaller gains.
-- Kellen Clemens has played will since Sam Bradford went down. The Rams get a first down by the 21-yard line.
-- Rams get a half the distance to the goal penalty and the fans love it. Rams get the ball on the 7. They're stuffed on the first carry of the game.
-- The Seahawks are 5-for-26 in their last two games on third down. Reciever wide open and Russell Wilson missed the pass. We have faith that Wilson will get it together. What a boot by John Ryan on a 65-yard punt to start the game.
-- Lynch trips on the first carry of the game. It's OK, though. We know those legs will be pushing soon enough.
-- Kickoff! The announcers have already called CenturyLink Field the loudest place on earth. The Rams win the coin toss and choose to defer. Wilson and the Seahawks get the ball on the 20-yardline.