SEATTLE, Wash.- It wasn't always pretty—then again, when is it ever when the Seahawks and Rams play each other?—but the Seahawks eventually took control of Thursday night's game against the Los Angeles Rams and rolled to a 24-3 victory that not only improved their record to 9-4-1, but also clinched Seattle's fourth NFC West title and fifth consecutive postseason berth under Pete Carroll and John Schneider.
Here are five rapid reactions to the Seahawks' division-clinching win:
1. Russell Wilson came back strong from a rough outing.
Coming off of a career-worst five-interception performance in last week's loss to Green Bay, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson didn't just clean things up in the turnover department—aside from one late interception when the game was out of hand—he turned in one of his better statistical performances of the season, completing 19 of 26 passes for 229 yards, three touchdowns and one interception, giving him a 122.2 passer rating.
Wilson had touchdown passes to Luke Willson, Doug Baldwin—who was wide open for a 1-yard score thanks to a some filthy footwork that left his defender going the wrong direction—and Tyler Lockett, and completed passes to six different receivers.
2. Tyler Lockett had a huge day.
When Tyler Lockett caught a pass to convert on third down on Seattle's opening possession, it was just the start of what would be one of the best games of Lockett's career. In addition to the 64 yards Lockett had in the return game, the second-year receiver had a career-high 130 yards on seven catches, his second 100-yard receiving game of his career to go along with his 104-yard performance in Baltimore last season.
Lockett helped put the game out of reach with a 57-yard touchdown catch on a perfectly thrown ball from Wilson, and with that catch, Lockett, who had a 75-yard touchdown run earlier this season, now has the Seahawks' longest touchdown catch and run this season.
3. The defense was dominant.
Facing a struggling Rams offense, the Seahawks defense did what a good defense should, holding Los Angeles to just three points and 183 yards. Of the Rams' nine possessions, four ended in punts, while four others saw them turn the ball over on downs.
The Seahawks didn't get a turnover, but got plenty of big performances, including 10 tackles for K.J. Wright, one of which went for a loss, two tackles for loss from Mike Morgan, and a lot of pressure on Jared Goff, which brings us to our next item…
4. Welcome back, pass rush.
Carroll lamented his team's lack of pass rush in last week's loss to the Packers, and over the past three games the Seahawks had just one sack, which came from Ahtyba Rubin late in last week's game.
On Thursday, however, the Seahawks were able to get to Goff early and often, a big reason why the Rams didn't do much on offense all night long.
The Seahawks recorded four sacks on Goff, including 1.5 from defensive end Cliff Avril, who now has a career-high 11.5 sacks this season, and 1.5 from Frank Clark, who is up to 9.0 sacks in his second season. The Seahawks also had a total of seven quarterback hits.
5. Too many penalties.
While a lot went right for the Seahawks on Thursday, one thing Carroll will certainly want to see his team clean up are the penalties. The Seahawks had a season-high 13 penalties for 86 yards against the Rams. Prior to that the Seahawks had kept their penalties down of late, committing only 15 in their past three games combined.
Here are action photos from Week 14 vs the Rams at CenturyLink Field.