The Seahawks hope this is just the beginning. Games you remember can be played in December — this one certainly will be. But the ultimate tale of the season will be told in January (or, thinking optimistically, maybe February?).
But a division title — and getting a home playoff game to start the postseason — always has been a necessary first step for Seattle to make much of a playoff run.
So, consider job No. 1 done for Seattle following a 20-9 victory over the Rams on Sunday at Lumen Field that clinched the 11th division title in team history.
On to the grades.
Russell Wilson didn’t put up big numbers (20 of 32 for 225 yards) and seemed a little shaky early — he got lucky on the first series of the game when, on third down, Darious Williams jumped a route but flat-out dropped an interception that might have gone for a long return, and maybe even a touchdown, had he held on.
Wilson then overthrew a wide-open Jacob Hollister for a potential touchdown on a second down at the Rams 24 in the second quarter.
But Wilson was his first-half-of-the-season MVP self when it mattered most, going 10 of 13 for 141 yards and a touchdown in the second half, as well as scoring a running touchdown. More important, he didn’t have a turnover while his counterpart, Jared Goff, had one that helped turn the game.
No really big numbers here either, but give Chris Carson credit for a gutty 69 yards on 16 carries — 4.3 yards per attempt against a tough defense — in the kind of effort the Seahawks will need to go deep into the postseason.
Carlos Hyde also turned in one of the game’s bigger plays with his 18-yard gain on a third-down pass in the third quarter that helped set up Seattle’s first touchdown.
DK Metcalf maybe didn’t “win” his battle with Jalen Ramsey, getting all but one of his six catches when against a zone or covered by others.
Metcalf did beat Ramsey on what could have been one of the biggest plays of the game, picking up 11 yards on a catch on a crossing route on a third-and-10 play after the Rams cut the lead to 13-9.
But three plays later, Metcalf was called for an illegal shift for not being set at the snap, negating a first-down run by Carson. Seattle then had to punt.
Tyler Lockett was held to just one catch for 9 yards in the first half — that coming on the first series of the game. But as much of the team, he seemed to save his best for when it mattered most, with two receptions for 35 yards on the crucial final scoring drive.
And David Moore turned in the game’s biggest offensive play with his acrobatic 45-yard catch on third down that set up the first touchdown.
Also, remember that the Rams came into the game with the top passing defense in the NFL. Big numbers were not really going to be in the offing.
Hollister’s final touchdown was enough to give this group a good grade. But on a day when the receivers often had trouble getting open, the tight ends had six catches for 49 yards and a TD to help bail out the offense — and Hollister might have had another had Wilson hit him in the second quarter.
Greg Olsen, making what coach Pete Carroll called “a remarkable’’ return from a plantar fascia injury on Nov. 19, had one catch on two targets. But it was a big one coming at a key time, a third-and-six from the Rams’ 40 that helped set up a Seattle field goal (the Rams also were called for illegal contact on the play).
Some tough sledding at times against a really good defensive line — Wilson was sacked five times after he had gone two consecutive weeks without getting sacked.
But 20 points and the two long second-half drives is nothing to be too disappointed about, especially with Seattle going with two backups.
Cedric Ogbuehi got his second consecutive start at right tackle in place of injured Brandon Shell, who suited up but was available only in an emergency, while Jordan Simmons started at left guard in place of the injured Mike Iupati, inactive due to a stinger.
One of the best days of the season for this group.
Seattle got three sacks — all from the defensive line — in the fourth quarter to help seal the victory, and made the Rams’ running game mostly ineffective (37 of the Rams’ 117 yards came on two runs with L.A. held to 81 on the 27 others). And the Rams most notably didn’t get a yard when they needed one most in the third quarter.
Rookie Alton Robinson got Seattle’s first sack at a particularly good time, dropping Goff for a loss of 7 yards when the Rams had a first down at the Seattle 16 early in the fourth quarter, the fourth sack of the year for the fifth-round draft choice. That helped force a Rams field goal.
Seattle got another on the following series, by Jarran Reed, after the Rams had reached the 50. Reed then got another on the final drive and suddenly has 6½ on the season.
Poona Ford, continuing to make more of a presence as a pass rusher, hit Goff on a first down at the 28 on the second series of the game to force an incomplete pass and the Rams eventually had to settle for a field goal.
And speaking to the overall play of the line, Goff was pressured on 15 dropbacks in the first half, his most pressures faced in any half of his career, per ESPN Stats and Info.
This might have been the best game yet for first-round draft choice Jordyn Brooks.
He tied for the team lead with eight tackles and was credited with a solo or assisted tackle on three of the four plays on the goal-line stand in the third quarter.
Veteran K.J. Wright, honored as the team’s Steve Largent Award winner before the game, also was stout throughout — his rush up the middle helped stuff Goff’s sneak on third down on the goal-line stand — with seven tackles and two pass breakups.
Bobby Wagner hurt his forearm but finished with six tackles.
Sure, Jamal Adams maybe should have had an interception on a pass to Tyler Higbee in the second quarter — the two broken fingers he was playing with surely didn’t help.
But this seemed like one of the guttiest games for Adams as a Seahawk as he saved touchdowns twice on the third-quarter drive that stalled at the 1, finishing with a team-high tying eight tackles.
Fellow safety Quandre Diggs maybe couldn’t help but catch the one interception thrown right to him by Goff. But at least he did catch it, unlike the Rams earlier in the game.
Throughout, Seahawks corners D.J. Reed and Shaquill Griffin did a nice job not letting Rams receivers get separation.
Several times Goff had time and appeared to be looking to throw deep but had to bring the ball down because no one was open. Griffin, though, missed a tackle on a short pass to Josh Reynolds in the fourth quarter that turned into a 26-yard gain.
But that was the longest of the day for the Rams, who didn’t have a pass otherwise of longer than 19 yards to a receiver.
And Reed, simply continuing to make the right corner spot his, also had eight tackles.
Nickel corner Ugo Amadi had trouble covering Cooper Kupp, who had three third-down receptions against him in the first half. But the overall effort here was as good as Seattle has had in a while.
Save for one play, this was another really big day for the special teams.
Jason Myers is now 22 for 22 on the year and 15 for 15 on kicks 40 or longer after two first-half field goals that extended his team record streak to 33 field goals in a row.
The Seahawks let one kickoff almost get away, but Myers actually got downfield to help on the tackle on a day when most of the coverage was solid and Michael Dickson downed four punts inside the 20 and averaged 48.6 overall.
The one blotch came trying for a block of a Johnny Hekker punt midway through the second quarter. Ryan Neal just missed getting the ball but ran into Hekker’s plant leg, resulting in a personal foul and a Rams first down. The Rams used the break to then march to Seattle’s 1. But they would get no closer.