Here’s how the Seattle Seahawks grade out in their 30-29 victory over the Los Angeles Rams on Thursday night at CenturyLink Field:
How good is Russell Wilson? Seattle’s quarterback made every throw in his toolbox Thursday en route to four touchdown passes and a near-perfect passer rating. He also had his scrambling legs going as he was at his elusive best, and he had to be as the Seahawks’ offensive line struggled in pass protection. Running back Chris Carson had another strong performance with 118 yards rushing. And when Seattle needed to punch the ball into the end zone with the game on the line, Wilson made the improvisational play that won it.
Seattle’s defense, which was so good for the first 28 minutes, faltered late in the first half as it allowed a lightning touchdown drive, then struggled to recover. The Rams twice sliced through Seattle’s defense for quick touchdowns in the third quarter, giving Los Angeles the initiative in the back-and-forth contest. The defense was asked to make two decisive stops late in the game, and made the first as Tedric Thompson came up with the acrobatic interception. But the defense failed the second time around, getting bailed out when Greg Zuerlein missed a 44-yard field goal with 11 seconds remaining.
For much of the game Seattle’s special teams weren’t so special, punctuated by Jason Myers’ missed 48-yard field goal late in the first half that ended up turning the game’s momentum in Los Angeles’ favor. But the combination of Michael Dickson’s punt and Ugo Amadi’s coverage to down it at the 1 in the third quarter, when Seattle was reeling, was the moment that got the Seahawks back into the game.
Credit offensive coordinator Brian Shottenheimer for acting quickly after Seattle’s offensive line was wrecked during the first two drives, switching to quick passes and read-option runs to slow the pass rush. It was an unfortunate series of coaching decisions at the end of the first half, beginning with the decision not to go for it on fourth-and-1 and ending with a soft defense that allowed the Rams to score to get back into the game. The right decision was made to go for it on fourth-and-goal from the 5 toward the end as it put the game in the hands of Wilson, Seattle’s best player. But what was with the option play call on third-and-short that could have allowed Seattle to run out the clock?
This ended up being a true heavyweight slugfest between teams with NFC West championship aspirations, and the margin between the teams was the millimeters Zuerlein’s field goal slid wide right. Most importantly, this was a victory against a legitimate team — Seattle’s previous three wins came against teams with one combined victory — and the result not only gave the Seahawks an edge on the Rams, it allowed them to keep pace with undefeated San Francisco.