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Game at a glance: Seahawks 27, Rams 9
A recap of the Seahawks’ 27-9 victory over the St. Louis Rams in their regular-season finale at CenturyLink Field on Sunday:
PLAYERS OF THE GAME: THE SEAHAWKS
The Seahawks have won as a team all season, and also lost as a team three times. So why go with one player or another in the win that won them so much – the division title in the best division in football, the NFC West; a first-round bye in the playoffs; and home-field advantage throughout the postseason?
|YOU DON'T SAY: SEAHAWKS PERSPECTIVE|
"Nothing's too big for us. We've played in some huge games so far. We're excited about what we can do."
- QB Russell Wilson
It could have been Marshawn Lynch, who ran for 97 tough yards and scored his 14th touchdown, a career high. It could have been linebacker Malcolm Smith, who intercepted a Kellen Clemens’ pass and returned it 37 yards for the Seahawks’ first touchdown. It could have been wide receiver Golden Tate, who caught a 47-yard TD pass while putting up career-highs in receptions (eight) and receiving yards (129).
But as quarterback Russell Wilson said, “It was a great game, just a complete team effort. Everybody really clicked.”
UNSUNG HERO: BRANDON MEBANE
The Seahawks had six players voted to the Pro Bowl, and Brandon Mebane showed why it should have been at least seven. The nose tackle was throwing his weight around all afternoon, until a groin injury sent him to the sideline in the fourth quarter.
|YOU DON'T SAY: RAMS PERSPECTIVE|
"We played a real good football team today, and didn't play well."
- Head coach Jeff Fisher
Mebane had six tackles and a pair of quarterback hits. It was Mebane who was in Clemens’ face on the pass that was intercepted by cornerback Byron Maxwell. It was Mebane who teamed with middle linebacker Bobby Wagner to stop Zac Stacy for a 1-yard gain and no gain, and with Smith to stop Stacy for a 1-yard gain. And that was in the first half. On back-to-back plays on the Rams’ possession to open the second half, Mebane had a solo stop on Stacy after a 1-yard gain and then bulled past a would-be blocker to hit Clemens and force an incompletion on third down. Later, he teamed with Wagner to stop Stacy for a 1-yard gain.
PLAYS OF THE GAME
“I actually lost it in the lights for a minute,” Tate said when asked about the adjustment he seemed to make on the pass along the sideline. “Then I found it. (Rams cornerback Janoris Jenkins) didn’t judge it the best way. And I made a play, and he didn’t make the tackle, and then I was too close to the end zone to get tackled. So I found a way to get into the end zone to help secure the win and here we are – NFC West champs.”
Offered Wilson, “When he has the football in his hands, it’s so hard to stop him.”
“I was watching the quarterback,” said Smith, who is subbing at weak-side linebacker for an injured K.J. Wright. “I saw him start to check the ball down. He threw it a little high. I just kind of zeroed in on the tip of the ball and caught it.”
Said coach Pete Carroll, “Malcolm continues to come through. He’s been a great asset to us. Whatever we’ve asked him to do, he’s done well. And stepping up like this play again, another really good defensive play. A terrific illustration of him and the kind of expectations we have for guys that jump in.”
Special teams: Jon Ryan’s first punt of the game, a 68-yarder that pinned the Rams at their 9-yard line after the offense started the game with a three-and-out.
INJURY REPORT: LUKE WILLSON HAS HIGH ANKLE SPRAIN
Rookie tight end Luke Willson was taken off the field on a cart in the fourth quarter, but the injury was not as bad as it looked.
“Willson has a high sprain of his left ankle,” Carroll said. “We heard that he did not break it. That’s really good news we didn’t know. So, he has a high ankle sprain is what we think we know right now.”
Mebane strained his groin. “It wasn’t bad,” Carroll said. “But he’ll be able to use this week to get back.”
WORTH NOTING: EARL THOMAS WINS STEVE LARGENT AWARD
All-Pro free safety Earl Thomas was presented with the Steve Largent Award in a pregame ceremony. The award has been presented annually since 1989 to the person who best exemplifies “the spirit, dedication and integrity of the Seahawks.”
The Seahawks finished 13-3 to tie the 2005 team for the best record in franchise history. The Seahawks also had the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs that season and used it to advance to the Super Bowl.
|YOU DON'T SAY: NATIONAL PERSPECTIVE|
"This is going to be a great NFC playoff race. I really think the two best teams are ... Seattle and San Francisco."
- Tony Dungy, the former coach of the Colts and Buccaneers and now an analyst for NBC
The Seahawks are 15-1 at CenturyLink Field the past two seasons.
The Seahawks’ defense led the NFL in average points allowed (14.4), average yards allowed (273.6), average passing yards allowed (172.0), interceptions (28) and turnover differential (plus-20).
The 13 rushing yards allowed to the Rams tied the franchise record that was set in a 1990 game against the Green Bay Packers. Holding the Rams to minus-2 yards rushing in the first half set a franchise record. The previous low was 4 against the Cincinnati Bengals in 2007.
Eight of Wilson’s 15 completions went to Tate, who had career highs on receptions (eight) and yards (129).
The Seahawks had two more interceptions, giving them 11 in the past three games.
Sunday’s crowd of 68,264 fans helped set a CenturyLink Field record of 545,577 for the season.
Regular-season leaders: Lynch, 1,257 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns; Tate, 64 receptions for 898 yards; Hauschka, 143 points, the second-highest total in franchise history behind Shaun Alexander’s 168 in 2005; Wilson, 26 TD passes to tie his rookie season total, which tied the NFL rookie record; Richard Sherman, eight interceptions; Michael Bennett, 8.5 sacks; and Wagner, 129 tackles.