Seahawks still have their division's number
LOS ANGELES — The Seattle Seahawks don't care about style points.
All they care about is winning, and they got it done Sunday at L.A. Memorial Coliseum, edging the NFC West Division rival Los Angeles Rams, 16-10.
Seattle (3-2) managed only 241 yards total offense, including 62 rushing, and had to withstand a last-ditch effort by the Rams (3-2) to pull out the victory.
L.A. quarterback Jared Goff had three shots into the end zone from the Seahawks' 20-yard line in the final 17 seconds. None of them connected, though the second one — to rookie Cooper Kupp out of Eastern Washington — was tantalizingly close.
The Rams committed five turnovers —- two interceptions and three fumbles, the first one about as unlucky a giveaway as a team can have.
"Whenever you get five turnovers," Seattle coach Pete Carroll said, "you're supposed to win the game."
The Seahawks did prevail, albeit barely. And now here they are, as unimpressive as they've been through five games, tied with the Rams atop the division.
"People look forward to writing us off," cornerback Richard Sherman crowed. "Our demise was greatly exaggerated."
The best things the Seahawks have going for them is a weak division, a still-sturdy defense and quarterback Russell Wilson.
Seattle and Arizona have been the class of the NFC West for years, but the Cardinals are down and San Francisco is still out. So it's probably going to be a battle between the Seahawks and Rams for the division crown.
Seattle's defense remains among of the best in the NFL. The Rams came into the game as the league's most potent offense at 35.5 points per game, but didn't look the part Sunday. They managed only 100 yards rushing, and Goff — who came into the game with the No. 2 passer rating in the league — completed only 22 of 47 passes for 288 yards and no touchdowns with two interceptions. The Seahawks held them scoreless over the final 39 minutes.
"Absolutely phenomenal," tight end Luke Willson said of the Seattle defenders. "Big play after big play. It was a special day for them."
"Our defense just kept stopping them," Carroll said. "They were fantastically composed and poised.
"(Goff) has been on fire, but I thought we made him scatter the ball around the second half. You could see some throws were getting away. I don't know if that's because of rush or coverage. I just know the ball was not on target."
Goff felt it was a combination of good Seattle defense and too many mistakes by the L.A. offense.
"You see why Seattle has been so good for so long with what they do defensively," the former California standout said. "They're good for a reason, but we beat ourselves all day offensively. We didn't do our part.
"That secondary is tough, but so are we. We can do a lot better than we did today. I can, too. I just need to make plays. Today, I didn't make enough. Ultimately, that's why we didn't win the game."
Conversely, Wilson — under constant pressure from a harassing Rams defense — kept plays alive all afternoon with his knack for avoiding the rush. The Seahawks quarterback completed 24 of 37 for 198 yards and a TD with one pick, and scrambled five times for 16 yards. But it was ability to scamper away from pass-rushers and find a secondary receiver that was the difference.
"That's one of the traits that makes him unique," Rams coach Sean McVay said. "He's one of the best players in this league, and it's because of that ability to extend plays with his feet, keep his eyes down the field and make some off-schedule throws."
Wilson also made a play he'd rather have not been forced into. After the Rams' John Johnson stepped in front of a sideline pass for an interception early in the second quarter, Wilson had an angle, gave chase and tackled Johnson after a 69-yard return to the Seattle 19. The Rams settled for a field goal and a 10-0 lead, and they never scored again.
"That was a fantastic effort by Russ, to show you never give up," Carroll said.
Luck played its part, too. On their first possession, the Rams marched from their 35 to the Seattle 12. On second-and-5, Todd Gurley skirted left end and — pursued by Seattle safety Earl Thomas — reached out for the goal line as he neared the pylon. Hurley bobbled the ball — Thomas was credited with a strip on the play — and the ball was ruled a fumble in the end zone and a touchback.
The Rams, who appeared much the better team through the first quarter and a half, never really recovered.
They had chances right to the end, though.
After Seattle's Blair Walsh made a 35-yard field goal for a 16-10 lead with 1:09 left, the Rams took over at their 25 with no timeouts left. Goff found Tyler Higbee for 35 yards and then Rodney Woods for 20 more, and suddenly the Rams had the ball at the Seahawks 20 with 17 seconds to play.
Goff's third-down pass to Kupp went off the diving rookie's fingertips.
"It would have been an incredible catch if he'd come up with it," Goff said. "I wish I could have put it just that much closer to him."
Kupp said he should have had it: "If I'm putting my hands on the ball, I've got to make that play."
Carroll reached for the proverbial thesaurus in describing the low-scoring affair.
"It was an old-fashioned NFL ballgame — you play right down to the end, score is tight the whole time, every play mattered," the Seattle coach said. "It was a really exciting, tough, hard-nosed, hard-fought, well-deserved win."
Fair enough. And the Seahawks — who don't play against until a trip to play the New York Giants on Oct. 22 — have some time off to celebrate.
"Especially heading into the bye week, it's a great feeling," Willson said. "Early prospects look like it may be us and them for the division title. To get our first win on the road against a divisional opponent? That's a big deal."