For all the flaws, the Seattle Seahawks are back where they always expected to be.
In the postseason and as champions of the NFC West.
“I think it’s a huge significance in terms of consistency,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. “It’s something that we really do take great pride in because of the implications for the playoffs.”
Russell Wilson threw three touchdown passes, Tyler Lockett had 130 yards receiving and a score, and the Seahawks won the NFC West with a 24-3 victory over the Los Angeles Rams on Thursday night.
Seattle claimed its third division title in four seasons, assuring itself of at least one home game in the playoffs and keeping the pressure on Detroit in the competition for the No. 2 seed in the NFC and a first-round bye. Seattle also snapped a three-game losing streak to the Rams.
Seattle became the first team in the NFL to clinch its division, the result of playing in the NFC West in a season where no one was particularly good. The Seahawks have their shortcomings, which were shown again against the Rams. Seattle simply had more tools than anyone else in the division to overcome their flaws.
It wasn’t a completely smooth evening for the Seahawks. Richard Sherman was seen yelling toward coaches on the sideline in the third quarter moments before Doug Baldwin’s 1-yard touchdown catch. Sherman said he was expressing his displeasure toward Carroll with the decision to throw on first-and-goal from the 1, a pass by Wilson that was nearly intercepted.
“We’ve already seen how that goes. I’m sure you guys have seen that play enough times,” Sherman said.
It wasn’t an impressive display by Seattle (9-4-1), but was far better than Sunday when the Seahawks were blown out by Green Bay with Wilson throwing five interceptions.
Wilson was good enough against the listless Rams. After slogging through the first half, Wilson threw a 1-yard touchdown pass to Doug Baldwin late in the third quarter for a 17-3 lead, then put the game away on a 57-yard touchdown strike to Lockett on the second play of the fourth quarter.
Wilson finished 19 of 26 for 229 yards, but also threw a careless interception at the goal line midway through the fourth quarter. Seven of those passes went to Lockett, whose previous career high was 104 yards. Luke Willson also had an 8-yard TD catch in the first half.
Another mostly forgettable Thursday night game was made at least somewhat more entertaining by the Seahawks and their highlighter green uniforms that drew wild opinions all over social media. The “Action Green” uniforms had very little action in the first half, before a second-half effort that assured another banner would be raised at CenturyLink Field.
A tumultuous few days for the Rams (4-10) after the firing of Jeff Fisher as head coach culminated in their fifth straight loss and first under interim coach John Fassel. The Rams’ defensive front caused problems for Seattle in the first half but the Los Angeles offense provided zero help.
“It’s just a lesson for me that you always have to be ready to adapt and take on responsibilities that you didn’t anticipate,” Fassel said. “But it’s an experience that of course I’ll never forget.”
Jared Goff was 13 of 25 for 135 yards before leaving in the fourth quarter to be checked for a possible concussion. The Rams finished with 183 total yards, but 90 of those came in the fourth quarter.
Los Angeles running back Todd Gurley was again unable to get started in the run game, continuing a frustrating second season. Gurley was held to 38 yards on 14 carries. He did have a 22-yard run late in the second quarter that set up Greg Zuerlein’s 36-yard field goal, but it as just his second run of 20 yards or more this season. Gurley had 11 runs of 20 or more yards last year.
“There is no reason Gurley should get hit the way he gets hit sometimes because we don’t set up a block for him,” Los Angeles offensive lineman Rodger Saffold said.
After getting no pressure on the quarterback in the past three weeks, the Seahawks rediscovered their pass rush.
Seattle had two sacks in the first half and finished with four after the Seahawks had five total sacks in the previous five weeks. Cliff Avril was the main culprit with 1 1/2 sacks, giving him a career-high 11 1/2 for the season.
Seattle defensive end Michael Bennett suffered neck strain in the fourth quarter on a collision with Gurley, Carroll said. A few plays later, Goff was taken from the game to be checked for a concussion after a sideline hit by Richard Sherman. He was replaced by Case Keenum.
Even Seattle punter Jon Ryan got added to the injury list after suffering concussion in the fourth quarter on a fake punt. Ryan ran 26 yards before bobbling the ball and getting hit in the helmet falling to the turf.