The win clinched the NFC West for the Seahawks for the third time in the past four seasons and four times since Pete Carroll became coach in 2010. It was the third time Seattle earned the clinching win at home against the Rams.
In a game in which the best recourse was often looking away, there were at least a couple of sights for sore eyes — the return to form of quarterback Russell Wilson and the Seahawks defense.
And that helped return the Seahawks to a familiar site — titleholders of the NFC West.
Wilson threw three touchdown passes, tying a season high, while the defense had four sacks as Seattle beat the Rams 24-3 at CenturyLink Field to win the NFC West for the third time in four seasons and fourth time since Pete Carroll became coach in 2010.
It also meant a fifth consecutive playoff appearance for Seattle, coinciding with the arrival of Wilson in 2012.
It was another five that lingered over Wilson in the days leading to the game, though — the career-high five interceptions he threw last Sunday at Green Bay during a 38-10 defeat against the Packers.
But while media members and fans spent the week debating what was wrong with Seattle’s offense, Wilson said he simply got back to work.
“You’ve got to have amnesia,’’ Wilson said. “I didn’t hang over it too long or anything like that. I know and believe in who I am and believe in who our football team is and what we are capable of.’’
Wilson completed 19 of 26 passes for 229 yards and touchdowns in the second, third and fourth quarters to finish with a passer rating of 122.1 — almost three times the 43.7 of the Green Bay game. He was on track for a season-high rating until an interception in the final minutes near the Rams’ goal line.
“A nice bounceback night for Russ,’’ said Carroll. “Came back and had a really good night. Too bad the one throw was nuts, the last one. But other than that he played a really good football game. He showed you who he is and what he’s all about.’’
Wilson’s last touchdown went to Tyler Lockett, who had a career day in what was his new role as a starter in the team’s two-receiver sets, meaning he essentially moved ahead of Jermaine Kearse on the team’s receiving pecking order.
“Just wanted to see him more,’’ said Carroll.
The Rams undoubtedly figured they’d seen enough of Lockett when he broke free for a 57-yard touchdown pass that made it 24-3 in the fourth quarter.
That capped a night when Lockett caught seven passes for a career-high 130 yards and helped finally put order to a game that for much of the night was as garish as the “Action Green’’ uniforms the Seahawks wore. The special duds were part of the NFL’s Color Rush promotion that highlights every Thursday night game.
Earlier in the week though, Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman described the Thursday games using a somewhat different color, calling them an “absolute poopfest’’ due to the fact players are forced to play after only four days after their most recent game.
Neither team looked ready at the start. The Rams blew two chances at a touchdown on their second drive when rookie Jared Goff underthrew a wide open Michael Thomas on a deep ball that Thomas then dropped, then later missed a wide-open Brian Quick in the end zone.
The Seahawks, meanwhile, committed five false starts among a season-high 13 penalties.
Seattle led 10-3 during a first half that hardly soothed anyone’s fears about the Seahawks in the wake of the Green Bay game.
But the defense then put the clamps on the Rams in the second half, holding them to minus-4 yards in the third quarter as the sacks piled up.
“It was really important,’’ said middle linebacker Bobby Wagner of the defensive performance. “We didn’t like the way we played last week and we wanted to come out and set the tone for the rest of the season.’’
Not that the second half was entirely celebratory.
As Seattle tried to break into the end zone for the touchdown that would ultimately put the Seahawks up 17-3, Sherman grew angry on the sideline over a call for a pass from the 1-yard-line. Sherman specifically began screaming and pointing fingers at coaches after a pass from Wilson to Jimmy Graham that for a moment appeared possibly intercepted by Rams linebacker Bryce Hager (a replay showed Hager did not have control).
Sherman admitted later he erupted because he didn’t like the play call. Eventually, Wilson threw a 1-yard TD pass to Doug Baldwin, who also returned to the sideline with some stern words for the coaches, apparently telling them to throw the ball to him.
Carroll largely shrugged it off afterward, saying it was “just guys being fired up.’’
“He’s fired up,” Carroll said of Sherman. “He’s fired up. It’s good. Between what he was saying and what Doug was saying, Doug was saying give me the ball and Richard was saying something else, and I needed those two guys to go sit down and have a little time out and talk it over to figure out what we should do next.”
Carroll said he had no issue with Sherman’s outburst, noting how Sherman played the rest of the game, notably his hard hit that knocked Goff out.
“I’m not even worried about it one bit,” Carroll said. “I talked to him on the sidelines and he was jacked up and ready to go and he went out and played a good series after that. What was said in there, it doesn’t matter. I know you would love to know more. You’ll probably figure out more, but I don’t care. Right now that was one of our guys who has as much emotion and passion for this game as you could ever want. Sometimes it goes one way where you have to reel it back in. He did exactly that. He did a nice job of coming back to poise and finished the game really well.“
Carroll preferred to talk about winning another division title, one that assures the Seahawks will have a home playoff game, though Seattle still has plenty to play for as it is still battling Detroit for the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye.
It’s a postseason berth Seattle earned while battling injuries to the likes of Wilson, Michael Bennett and Thomas Rawls and enduring a few performances far more uneven than anyone might have expected.
“It has been strange,’’ Carroll said of the route back to the top of the NFC West, which Arizona won last season. “It’s been different than any of the years that we’ve had.’’
But with one common goal again reached and all the rest still in reach, he wasn’t complaining.
|The Seahawks are in the No. 3 spot in the NFC. Six teams make the playoffs in each conference, with the four division winners seeded by record, followed by two wild-card teams. The top two division winners earn first-round byes:|
|1. Dallas||11-2||NFC East winner|
|2. Detroit||9-4||NFC North leader|
|3. Seattle||9-4-1||NFC West winner|
|4. Atlanta||8-5||NFC South leader|
|5. N.Y. Giants||9-4||Wild card|
|6. Tampa Bay||8-5||Wild card|
|7. Washington||7-5-1||Not in|
|8. Minnesota||7-6||Not in|