Here’s how the Seattle Seahawks grade out in their 20-9 victory over the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday at Lumen Field:
If one just looks at the numbers, this was not a standout performance by Seattle’s offense, which scored just 20 points and was held under 300 yards for the first time this season. However, one also has to factor in the opponent — Los Angeles has perhaps the best defense in the league. And most importantly, the Seahawks figured out how to move the ball and score touchdowns at the game’s most important moments: opening the second half after going in tied 6-6 at halftime, and in the fourth quarter when clinging to a 13-9 lead. And while quarterback Russell Wilson’s overall numbers weren’t special, he was back to his magical best on those two scoring drives.
The big question about Seattle’s defense coming into this one was whether the dramatic improvement was real, or whether it was a product of the schedule. The Seahawks answered that question in emphatic fashion, as Seattle’s defense swarmed all over the field throughout Sunday’s game. Rams quarterback Jared Goff was hassled into an off day, L.A.’s running game wasn’t a major factor, and Seattle’s defense produced the game’s pivotal moment in the third quarter, coming up with the stop on fourth-and-goal at the 1 when the Rams looked like they would answer Seattle’s TD.
Punter Michael Dickson is a magician. How is someone able to direct every punt so that the returner is forced to catch the ball while falling out of bounds inside the 20-yard line every single time? Kicker Jason Myers kept his streak alive, nailing two important 40-plus-yard field goals the first half to run his string of successful makes to 33. There was a potentially bad moment in the second quarter when Ryan Neal’s roughing-the-kicker penalty extended a Rams drive that could have ended up in points, but the special teams were bailed out by Goff’s inexplicable interception to Quandre Diggs.
Seattle designed a good defensive game plan for this one, as the Seahawks were able to take away L.A.’s misdirection plays, whether that was bootlegs or wide receiver runs. One of the big stories when the Rams won 23-16 earlier in the season was Seattle’s inability to get receiver DK Metcalf involved, but Seattle’s coaches made sure that didn’t happen again, even if Metcalf wasn’t able to get free deep. Pete Carroll was unsuccessful on his one challenge, and it’s unclear why he thought Seattle might have made a clean recovery of a Goff fumble at the goal line, but at least it bought his defense a moment to catch its breath to make the all-important stop.
This was Seattle’s biggest game of the season, and the Seahawks came through with flying colors. The victory clinched the NFC West championship, Seattle’s first since 2016, meaning the Seahawks will at least have a home game for the first round of the playoffs, and Seattle retains an outside shot at earning the NFC’s No. 1 seed and receiving the conference’s lone first-round bye. This was essentially a playoff football game for the Seahawks, and on this evidence e it appears Seattle is fully ready for the postseason.
– Nick Patterson, Herald writer