Rams stay in playoff hunt, end Seahawks' 5-game streak
(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
By GREG BEACHAM
AP Sports Writer
LOS ANGELES (AP) When Todd Gurley flattened Tre Flowers with a brutal stiff arm on his path to Los Angeles' final touchdown, the Rams delivered a clear message right to the face of the Seahawks and the NFL.
Although it's too soon to say whether the Rams solved their offensive problems in time to make the playoffs, the team that dazzled the league in the past two seasons will be dangerous down the stretch.
"We're finally playing the way we should have been playing," Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald said.
Jared Goff passed for 293 yards and two touchdowns, Gurley ran for 79 yards and that decisive fourth-quarter TD and the Rams prevented Seattle from clinching a playoff berth with a 28-12 victory Sunday night.
From start to finish in their final game under the Coliseum lights, the Rams (8-5) looked like their most dangerous selves of the previous two seasons. In their fifth win in seven games, the Rams had little trouble derailing the powerful Seahawks' five-game winning streak.
"I think this is a different team now with a different mentality," left tackle Andrew Whitworth said. "I think we're shooting our shot in the next three weeks. You can certainly see signs of last year. You don't control your future, but we control how we come out here."
Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp caught TD passes while the Rams kept their playoff hopes burning with an aggressive, inventive game plan on both sides of the ball. They also left the Seahawks reeling from their first road defeat of the season after sacking Russell Wilson five times.
Los Angeles still trails Minnesota (9-4) by a game for the second wild card spot and its third straight playoff berth, but its chances improved with this critical division win.
The Seahawks (10-3) fell out of first place in the NFC West with just their second loss since Sept. 22.
"This was a rough night," coach Pete Carroll said. "We did not do what we planned to do at all. You've got to hand it to them. They played great. They did everything they wanted to do."
Wilson passed for 245 yards amid constant pressure from the Rams. Quandre Diggs returned an interception 55 yards for a touchdown early in the third quarter, but it was the Seahawks' only touchdown.
"Obviously it felt like we weren't ourselves out there," said Seattle tight end Jacob Hollister, who had a key drop. "They outplayed us, and we've just got to keep working.
Woods had seven catches for 98 yards and his first touchdown of the season, and tight end Tyler Higbee had seven catches for a career-high 116 yards as the Rams looked like the thrilling offensive unit led by coach Sean McVay in his first two seasons.
McVay called a clever game full of jet sweeps and tricky schemes. He also continued to give more late-season action to Gurley, who responded emphatically.
These NFC West rivals' first meeting of the season was decided by the Rams' missed field goal with 11 seconds left two months ago in Seattle. Los Angeles didn't let it get nearly that close this time.
The Rams' offense started off with two touchdown drives. Malcolm Brown punched in the opening TD after Higbee's 33-yard reception put Los Angeles on the goal line, and Woods then caught a short TD pass to cap an 85-yard drive.
Goff led another TD drive late in the first half, connecting with Kupp from 10 yards out with 51 seconds left, while Wilson was left frustrated by the Rams' defense and his own receivers' drops.
Goff and Woods miscommunicated at midfield on the opening drive of the second half, and Diggs returned it untouched for his second career touchdown and his second interception in his first four games with Seattle.
Diggs grabbed his third interception for the Seahawks on the next series, catching an overthrown pass by Goff. Former USC star Rasheem Green then blocked a field goal attempt by the Rams, but Seattle's offense was unable to capitalize, with Wilson repeatedly getting rocked by blitzing Rams.
Los Angeles' final 95-yard TD drive ended with Gurley flooring Flowers.
Seattle dropped a game behind San Francisco atop the NFC West, tied with New Orleans and Green Bay at 10-3 in the jumbled conference playoff picture. The Seahawks host the Niners in the regular-season finale Dec. 29.
This was likely the final NFL night game at the venerable Coliseum. The Rams move into their multibillion-dollar palace in Inglewood next year after four post-relocation seasons at the 96-year-old stadium, which staged the first Super Bowl and also housed the Rams and the Raiders at different times.
Carroll also might have made his final coaching appearance at the stadium where he led USC to a decade of excellence.
Seahawks: RB Rashaad Penny sprained a left knee ligament on the opening drive and didn't play again. The busy backup running back had 203 yards rushing and two touchdowns in Seattle's previous two games. ... Two defensive starters - DE Ziggy Ansah and LB Mychal Kendricks - didn't play.
Rams: Gerald Everett missed another game with a knee injury, and the absence of Goff's top tight end target has led to more chances for Higbee, who surpassed his career high in yards receiving for the second straight game.
Seahawks: Visit the Carolina Panthers on Sunday for their final road game of the regular season.
Rams: Visit the well-rested Dallas Cowboys, who still lead the NFC East despite losing three straight, on Sunday.
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Updated December 9, 2019