Well, that was... something.
The Seahawks played their worst game in a month, had ten penalties, struggled to create a pass rush, forgot how to block -- and still won. A huge amount of the credit goes to rookie wunderkind Russell Wilson, who collected an impressive array of improbable plays despite having Rams defenders close enough to give him a hickey on every other play. His final play was one of his best, turning a 13-13 tie into a 20-13 lead with a minute and a half left on a keeper sweep from a yard out (more on that later).
Something needs to be said about the refereeing in this game. I hate pinning games on the officials because I usually think that's just a sign of lame fanhood, but this game was the pits when it came to flags. I'm not complaining from a Seahawks perspective because they actually ended up on the better side of the whole affair, I'm complaining as a football fan that saw almost one out of every four plays result in a penalty, and that's not even counting all the ones that were declined. It's like Jeff Triplette's crew came into the final game well short of their flags quota and were determined to make up for lost time. Anyhow...
On the first drive, a long Zach Miller touchdown was (correctly) called back on a (
dumb unnecessary) penalty by Anthony McCoy, who chipped the linebacker covering Miller despite Miller having two steps on him. Seattle ended up punting instead.
The scoring started with Steven Hauschka kicking a 43-yard field goal to put Seattle up 3-0. On the Seahawks' aforementioned first drive, Pete Carroll elected to punt instead of attempting a 52-yard field goal, a decision that burned them in an identical situation against Miami and one that I vehemently disagree with. For a long time, it looked like that decision would haunt Seattle again, especially after Austin Pettis caught a tipped pass for a two-yard touchdown to put St Louis ahead in a game when the Seattle offense was having a hard time getting out of their own way.
Seattle failed to score again in the first half and everything about the game felt like every game from the 2010 season, which is not a good thing. Seattle began to incorporate more of their late-blooming read-option offense in the second half and, like it has for the last four weeks, it jumpstarted the offense, leading to Hauschka's second field goal, a 49-yard bomb that was good by a mile and further cemented my opinion that they should have tried the 52-yarder earlier.
After a Rams field goal extended their lead to 10-6, the rejuvenated Seahawks O moved surgically down the field, culminating their drive with a 10-yard toss to Michael Robinson who, apparently unsatisfied with a simple score, planted Cortland Finnegan's butt into the endzone turf in the process. The touchdown also moved Wilson into a tie with Peyton Manning for most TD passes by a rookie.
Sam Bradford, apparently unimpressed by Wilson, charged the Rams right back down the field, riding Steven Jackson like a dreadlocked version of the rhinoceros in Donkey Kong. The drive came up two yards short of paydirt, however, as St Louis settled for a game-tying chip-shot field goal that had everyone who watched the first matchup screaming "watch the fake!"
Seattle's answer came two drives later on a beautifully efficient, clock-milking 90-yard expedition that seemed to end with a TD run by Marshawn Lynch with 1:49 left on the clock. A replay correctly overturned the call, which set up Wilson's 30th(!) touchdown of the season when he ran it in around the left end.
Seemingly beaten, the Rams didn't bow out without a fight, moving the ball deep into Seahawks territory before Richard Sherman (who else, honestly?) stamped out the fire with a goal-line interception.
Some key numbers from today's game:
*The Seahawks averaged 11 yards per pass attempt.
*They also averaged 5.1 yards per rush. Those are insanely efficient numbers, especially considering what a staunch defense the Rams have.
*Seattle committed 10 of the game's staggering 24 penalties, accounting for 80 yards (although McCoy's 4th quarter hold erased a 50-yard completion to Doug Baldwin, which isn't reflected in the penalty yards).
*The Rams' 14 penalties cost them 98 yards.
*Marshawn Lynch rushed for 100 yards. Again. His 1,590 rushing yards on the season is the third-highest total in team history (h/t Kenneth).
*Wilson's final line was 15/19, 250 yards, a TD, no interceptions and a passer efficiency rating of 136.3. 136! Oh, and he also rushed ten times for 58 yards and a touchdown, combining his usually mastery of the read-option and Tecmo Bowl type scrambles when the pass-pro broke down.
*Russell Okung allowed his first sack of the season. It came on a three-man rush.
*The Rams only mustered six yards per pass attempt and just 5.4 yards per play overall.
With the 49ers beating the Cardinals today, the Seahawks will finish half a game shy of winning the NFC West, and are locked into the 5th seed in the NFC. Their first playoff game will be played in either Washington or Dallas, depending on the outcome of the Sunday Night matchup.
It's been a hell of a regular season, you guys. This team is at least one, maybe two years ahead of schedule and are certainly a squad that no one wants to face. Cherish this, you guys -- the Seattle Seahawks are extremely young, super talented, and have the cap flexibility to keep the team in tact for the forseeable future. While this wasn't Seattle's best game of the season, it was the first one whose recap I wrote while pooping.
This season was filled with incredible accomplishments, so feel free to add them in the comments section.