The final regular season game of Pete Carroll’s inaugural year as Seattle Seahawks head coach was for the NFC West championship. Thanks to no other game having direct “winner qualifies, loser goes home” playoff implications, the 6-9 Seahawks and 7-8 Rams were flexed into Sunday Night Football for January 2nd, 2011. It would mark Seattle’s first night game at home since shutting out the 49ers on Monday Night Football in 2007.
Seattle was either going to be the first team to win a division title with a sub-.500 record or end up with a 6-10 season and a top-10 draft pick (if my memory is correct, they would’ve gone 7th). With Matt Hasselbeck’s future in doubt and the roster in desperate need of elite talent, there were fans who were caught between two minds. Do you win and just enjoy the immediate satisfaction of playoff football, or do you lose and get yourself higher in the draft pecking order?
Heading into this game, Matt Hasselbeck had literally injured his back just jogging into the end zone on a rushing touchdown against the Buccaneers. Charlie Whitehurst’s performance that night was terrible, and Pete Carroll wouldn’t reveal who would start week 17. Michele Tafoya asked the question just before kickoff, and Carroll said, “We’re going with Charlie Whitehurst.”
I won’t lie, I wanted A.J. Green so I was fine with losing to the Rams. Then Whitehurst threw a 61-yard pass to Ruvell Martin and that feeling went away. Let’s relive this (otherwise pretty awful) victory that put Seattle into the playoffs. Game thread comments are courtesy of Field Gulls (obviously) and Turf Show Times.
Pre-Game: Charlie Whitehurst is starting!
Whitehurst throws a deep ball to Ruvell Martin for 61 yards on game’s opening drive (0-0)
Charlie Whitehurst throws a touchdown to Mike Williams (7-0 SEA)
Marshawn Lynch fumbles the ball, Rams recover and kick a field goal (7-6 SEA)
To this point, Marshawn Lynch had 6 carries for -1 yard, and we were quite mean about his poor play
Justin Forsett runs for 21 yards on 2nd and 17, setting up a Seahawks FG (10-6 SEA)
Danario Alexander drops a deep ball from Sam Bradford, which would’ve put the Rams deep in Seahawks territory (10-6 SEA)
Sam Bradford gets picked off by Will Herring (13-6 SEA)
Michael Robinson stopped short of the first down, but refs give Seattle a hugely generous spot (13-6 SEA)
Rams jump offside on field goal attempt, allowing Seattle to burn more clock and then kick the game-clinching field goal (16-6 SEA)
Bradford gets sacked twice, Rams commit turnover on downs, Seahawks win the NFC West (16-6 SEA Final)
Post-Game: How many of these things do the Rams actually have in 2017?
Post-Game: Rams end a bittersweet campaign (Ryan Van Bibber, Turf Show Times)
Going from a 1-win season to a 7-win season should be a satisfying end. Still, it stings. This was not an unwinnable game for the Rams. After a fluky start, the defense settled in and played exactly like you would have expected this unit to play with the season on the line.
That wasn't the case on the other side of the ball, where the Rams offense confirmed that their recent inability to score points was indeed a trend and not an anomaly.
Not a good night for the coaches. Steve Spagnuolo was openly questioned on national TV about being too conservative, a meme underscored by the lack of a challenge to Laurent Robinson's grab on the sidelines early in the game. The no-huddle offense was nowhere to be seen until it was too late. Terrible decision making.
Nevertheless, it's hard to think of the 2010 season as a disappointment. Competing for the division title when 6 wins was seen as optimistic six months ago is no small feat. Another year of experience for a core of talented young players, epitomized by Sam Bradford, and a productive offseason for the front office and scouting department, will raise the bar much further.
Post-Game Video: The final look with Rams radio announcers Steve Savard and D’Marco Farr
The Rams would draft Robert Quinn at 13th overall in the 2011 draft, while the Seahawks selected James Carpenter at 25th.
Looking at the box score, the Rams rather curiously only gave Steven Jackson 11 carries despite being within one-possession of tying or taking the lead for nearly the whole game. Rookie QB Sam Bradford averaged under 5 yards-per-attempt, while Whitehurst barely eclipsed that mark. Seattle’s defense held St. Louis to 2-of-15 on 3rd down conversions and forced nine punts.
Of course, we all know what happened the following week in the wild card game vs. New Orleans. If the Seahawks don’t win in week 17, we don’t have Beastquake, and we don’t have Matt Hasselbeck turning in a remarkable performance in what would ultimately prove to be his final home start in a Seattle uniform.
Thanks for reading the latest vintage edition of Enemy Reaction. I’m undecided on what the next game will be, but I’m leaning towards a remastered version of the famous 2012 win over the New England Patriots. Be on the lookout for that in July.