Seahawks clinch West, top seed in NFC with win over Rams


Dec 29, 2013; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch (24) runs with the ball against the St. Louis Rams during the fourth quarter at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

It has been said that defense wins football games and on Sunday, in front of 68,264 fans at CenturyLink Field, Seattle’s defense shut down the St. Louis Rams to help the Seahawks clinch the NFC West for the first time since 2010.

The win also gave the Seahawks a No. 1 seed in the NFC, which comes with the benefits of a first round bye and home-field advantage in the postseason.

Seattle’s defense dominated the Rams, especially in the run game. St. Louis rushed for 13 yards on 18 attempts — an average of 0.7 yards per attempt. The performance matched a franchise record for the Seahawks in fewest rushing yards allowed in a game.

The defense also forced two interceptions and held Rams quarterback Kellen Clemens to just 157 passing yards.

In the first quarter, one of those interceptions, courtesy of Malcolm Smith, turned into the first points of the game as Smith returned a pick for a 37-yard touchdown.

The second quarter consisted of two Seahawks field goals from Steven Hauschka to give Seattle a 13-0 lead at the half. Hauschka finished the regular season with a 93.9 percent proficiency mark, successfully making 31 of his 33 field goal attempts.

In the third quarter, Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein put St. Louis on the board with a 36-yard field goal but later, Marshawn Lynch scored his 12th rushing touchdown of the season, which matched his career-high. He finished the day with 97 rushing yards.

Seattle put the game away for good in the fourth quarter when Russell Wilson found Golden Tate for a 47-yard touchdown to make it a 27-3 game. Tate finished the game with a career-high 129 receiving yards.

With just over four minutes left in the game, the Rams scored a touchdown, but their two-point attempt fell short and the final score became 27-9.

While Seattle’s offense played well, it didn’t dominate and still has a lot of tweaking to do before their NFC Divisional Game on Jan. 11.

One thing that needs significant improvement is third-down efficiency. After going 2-for-13 on third down attempts in last week’s loss to the Arizona Cardinals, the Seahawks went 4-for-13 against the Rams.

Overall, however, they outplayed the Rams and were simply too overwhelming to be upset for a second-consecutive week.

The Seahawks had more total yards (269-158), more yards per play (4.3-3.2), fewer penalties (12-7) and greater time of possession (33:40-26:20).

Here is the playoff bracket: