Justin Forsett rushes for 130 yards and two touchdowns as Seattle defeats St. Louis, 27-17.
ST. LOUIS — The Seahawks needed 1 yard to start the fourth quarter. Coach Jim Mora needed an answer from his offense.
“He asked us what we wanted to do,” running back Justin Forsett said. “Everybody wanted to run the ball.”
Of course, Seattle has wanted to run the ball all season; it just hasn’t been able to. And with the ball at the St. Louis 18 and Seattle facing fourth-and-one, the Seahawks planned to throw. Instead, the coach threw down the gauntlet, changing it to a running play.
“Coach Mora challenged us,” Forsett said.
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Seattle responded, Forsett running over right guard for an 11-yard run to start a fourth quarter. It was the biggest statement Seattle’s running game has made this season, and while that might not be saying much, it was more than enough in the Seahawks’ 27-17 victory in St. Louis.
The Seahawks finished with a season-high 170 yards rushing, Forsett a career-high 130 and he scored his second touchdown of the game two plays after that fourth-down conversion.
It wasn’t the most decisive play in Seattle’s 27-17 victory in a half-empty Edward Jones Dome. That distinction went to Josh Wilson’s 65-yard interception return for the go-ahead touchdown with 1:38 left in the second quarter.
Forsett’s fourth-down run wasn’t Seattle’s most surprising play, either. That distinction went to Matt Hasselbeck’s 19-yard scramble on a naked bootleg in the third quarter — “My Mike Vick moment,” he joked. “I got 15 yards downfield and I didn’t know what else to do.”
Forsett’s fourth-down run was the exclamation point on Sunday’s victory. When Seattle needed 1 yard most, it turned to its running game and was rewarded with an 11-yard gain. There was no measurement required to see Seattle’s progress.
“It shows you we are capable,” Mora said. “We are on the right track. Sometimes we maybe take the wrong turn a little bit, but we’re moving in the right direction.”
And on Sunday, that was enough. Seattle (4-7) didn’t need to throw the ball effectively to beat the Rams (1-10). The Seahawks didn’t even need to outgain them. They just needed to keep handing the ball to Forsett, who was filling in for injured starter Julius Jones and proving to be the team’s most productive running back.
There is a caveat to all those accomplishments. This was St. Louis, after all, which isn’t much more formidable than a speed bump. Seattle has beaten the Rams 10 times in a row and counting. Seattle started this season by rushing for 167 yards in a shutout against the Rams. Jones ran for 117 of those yards, including a 62-yard touchdown.
Jones was inactive Sunday, the bruised lung he suffered two weeks ago in Arizona still too painful for him to play.
Hasselbeck passed for 102 yards, his second fewest in any regular-season game since the 2005 finale when he didn’t play at all in the second half of a meaningless game in Green Bay. He passed for 97 yards in Week 2 at San Francisco, a game in which he missed the second half after suffering two broken ribs.
Hasselbeck was sacked on the first play of Sunday’s game, an omen for the eyesore of a first half that followed. St. Louis outgained Seattle 213-111 in the first half, and St. Louis was moving in position to take a halftime lead. With the score tied 7-7, the Rams went for it on fourth-and-4 at Seattle’s 34. Cornerback Kelly Jennings tipped a pass from Kyle Boller, Josh Wilson intercepted and returned it for the go-ahead touchdown.
In the second half, the Seahawks offense followed Wilson’s cue. They simply ran away from the Rams. Forsett ran the ball 10 times in that final period alone, gaining 68 of his 130 yards in the fourth quarter.
The Seahawks finished with 170 yards rushing and 95 yards passing, the first time all season gained more on the ground than through the air. Not that the quarterback was complaining about that.
“I am not at all upset about that,” Hasselbeck said. “That is very good. We have been working very hard to get the run game going.”
And to start the fourth quarter, the Seahawks showed the running game is not necessarily an oxymoron in Seattle.
Danny O’Neil: 206-464-2364 or firstname.lastname@example.org