The Seahawks scored 20 unanswered points and their defense was dominant once again to lead Seattle to a 20-6 victory over the St. Louis Rams on Sunday afternoon.
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The win clinched the NFC West title for the Seahawks (12-4) for the second-straight year.
And, because the Green Bay Packers beat the Detroit Lions, Seattle clinched the No. 1 seed in the NFC, meaning they have earned homefield advantage and a first round bye in the postseason.
It didn’t look good early for the Seahawks, but just as they did last week against the Arizona Cardinals, they had a strong second half to end the 2014-15 regular season in style.
Russell Wilson threw for 239 yards and an interception, Marshawn Lynch rushed for 64 yards and a touchdown and Paul Richardson led Seattle’s receivers with five catches for 60 yards, his best game as a pro.
The Rams got on the scoreboard first, putting up three points courtesy of Greg Zuerlein, who made a 33-yard kick midway through the opening quarter.
It was the fourth straight week Seattle’s opponent was on the board first.
But this week, unlike in past games, Seattle looked confused, broken, and unsure of themselves in the first half.
Russell Wilson threw just his second interception in his last seven games and Lynch fumbled the football for just the third time this season. Those turnovers came on consecutive possessions, the latter of which the Rams scored another field goal.
Zuerlein’s second field goal was from 52 yards out and he finished the season 24-of-30 on field goal attempts.
Seattle got the ball back with less than a minute left in the half, but Wilson fumbled the football and, though Seattle recovered, the Seahawks were forced out of field goal range.
The Rams took their uncomfortable 6-0 lead into the half in what was the first time Seattle was held scoreless in the first half since Oct. 23, 2011 against the Cleveland Browns.
Dec 28, 2014; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) throws a pass against the St. Louis Rams at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Wilson’s offensive line let him down in the first half as he was hit five times, hurried five additional times, sacked twice, and fumbled the ball twice. He recovered in the second half, however.
In the third quarter, he led the Seahawks on an eight-play, 56-yard drive that ended in a Steven Hauschka field goal, his first attempt after an 0-for-3 game last week against the Cardinals.
Hauschka kicked a 45-yard field goal on Seattle’s next possession to tie the game at 6-6 with 4:45 left in the third quarter. He finished the year 31-for-37 on field goal attempts.
The first touchdown of the game was scored in the fourth quarter when Lynch crossed the goal line on a nine-yard run to give Seattle a 13-6 lead, their first lead of the contest. It was Lynch’s 13th rushing touchdown of the year, a new career-high.
The Rams’ Hill threw his second pick of the game on the Rams next possession, when Bruce Irvin grabbed it and returned it 49 yards for a touchdown to give the Seahawks a 20-6 lead with 9:50 left in the game. Irvin also had five tackles.
The Rams put together a good-looking 74-yard drive on their next possession, getting all the way to Seattle’s half-yard line before Earl Thomas forced Benny Cunningham to fumble it as he dived towards the endzone. Since it went out of bounds in the endzone, it was a touchback and Seattle got the ball.
It was an outstanding play by Thomas, who ran to the far sideline from his free safety spot to knock the ball lose at the last minute. Thomas also had a team-high 12 tackles.
With the No. 1 seed clinched, Seattle has a first round bye and will not have to play until they host an NFC Divisional playoff game on Jan. 10 at 5:15 p.m. PT on FOX.
The Seahawks will be looking to be the first defending Super Bowl champion to win a playoff game the following season since the New England Patriots did it in 2006.