A recap of the Seahawks’ division-winning 16-6 victory over the St. Louis Rams at Qwest Field on Sunday night:
PLAYERS OF THE GAME
With apologies to Charlie Whitehurst, the nod goes to the defense. The Seahawks did not allow a touchdown for only the second time this season, and the first time since the opener against the 49ers. They forced three-and-outs on seven of the Rams’ 12 possessions. They held the Rams to 184 total yards, a season-low for a unit that was allowing an average of 380.9 entering the game and had yielded 400-plus six times. They sacked rookie QB Sam Bradford three times and tipped or deflected seven of his throws. They held Pro Bowl running back Steven Jackson to 45 rushing yards, 35 below his average that had produced 1,196 in the first 15 games. They held the Rams to a 2-of-14 performance on third downs.
“They played a beautiful night of defense in stopping the running game and pressuring the quarterback,” coach Pete Carroll said.
End Raheem Brock had 2½ sacks. Linebacker Will Herring had a key interception at a critical juncture in the game. Linebacker David Hawthorne had a team-high seven tackles, putting him over 100 for the second consecutive season. Nickel back Jordan Babineaux had two of the seven tipped passes.
PLAYS OF THE GAME
Offense: Whitehurst passed 4 yards to Mike Williams for the game’s only touchdown on the first possession of the game. But it was Whitehurst’s 61-yard completion to wide receiver Ruvell Martin on the second play of the game that set up the score, and helped set the tempo for the evening.
Peephole perspective: The Seahawks got two more field goals from Olindo Mare, and a fifth NFC West title with the victory. Seahawks 16-6.
Player of the quarter: Marshawn Lynch. When the Seahawks got the ball back with 8:42 to play, the Seahawks’ Beast Mode back went to work. He carried nine times on the drive to Mare’s final field goal.
Play of the quarter: The Rams had the ball at the Seahawks’ 46, with Seattle holding a 13-6 lead. But LB Will Herring intercepted Sam Bradford’s pass that was intended for WR Brandon Gibson.
Number of the quarter: 7. The number of victories by the Seahawks this season, but it was enough to make them the first division winner since the NFL-AFL merger in 1970 to advance to the playoffs with a losing record.
The bigger picture: The Rams’ first possession of the quarter ended in yet another three-and-out. The Seahawks offense then moved 29 yards in seven plays to a 38-yard field goal by Mare that made it 13-6 with 10:53 left in the game. On back-to-back plays, Charlie Whitehurst hit WR Ben Obomanu with a 13-yard pass and Lynch had a 13-yard run.
After an exchange of three-and-outs, the Seahawks got the ball back on Herring’s interception. The offense then played keep away, driving 47 yards in 13 plays to burn seven minutes off the clock. Mare kicked a 34-yarder to cap the effort with 1:37 left in the game.
On the Rams’ final possession, DE Raheem Brock had back-to-back sacks.
Player of the quarter: In a quite quarter, QB Charlie Whitehurst was quietly efficient. He completed 5 of 8 passes for 25 yards and ran once for 3 yards.
Play of the quarter: Following the Seahawks’ field goal, rookie FS Earl Thomas made a diving, one-handed tackle of the Rams’ Danny Amendola on the ensuing kickoff.
Number of the quarter: 24. Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch (No. 24) had a first-play 24-yard run on the drive to Olindo Mare’s field goal.
The bigger picture: The Rams got the ball first in the second half and moved to their 48, but had to punt when Bradford threw incomplete on first and third downs and CB Marcus Trufant and SS Lawyer Milloy stopped Steven Jackson for 3 yards on second down.
Russell Okung, who left in the second quarter with a sore ankle, was back for the Seahawks’ first possession of the half. But the Seahawks had the ball for only one play, as CB Ron Bartell ripped the ball from the grasp of Lynch and MLB James Laurinaitis recovered at the Seahawks’ 21.
But the defense held, with an assistant from a holding penalty on WR Danny Amendola, and Josh Brown kicked a 27-yard field goal to make it 7-6 with 8:59 left in the quarter. On third-and-goal from the 9, Bradford threw the ball out of the end zone as the pocket was collapsing around him.
The Seahawks took the ensuing kickoff and went to work. Lynch helped atone for his fumble by breaking a 24-yard run on the first play. RB Justin Forsett then ran up the middle for 21 yards, from a double-stack formation on both sides. On thid-and-4, Whitehurst passed to WR Mike Williams for 6 yards. Leon Washington then took a short pass, got past S Craig Dahl and went up the sideline for 10 yards. When things stalled, Olindo Mare kicked a 31-yard field goal to cap the 12-play, 62-yard drive to make it 10-6 with 3:04 left in the quarter.
The Seahawks got the ball right back as the defense forced another three-and-out – the fifth in nine possessions for the Rams. Thomas, the rookie from Texas, set the tempo with a diving, one-handed tackle of Danny Amendola on the kickoff that followed Mare’s field goal.
Peephole perspective: Former Seahawk K Josh Brown scored the only points of the quarter, capping an 83-yard drive. Seahawks 7, Rams 3.
Players of the quarter: The Seahawks’ maligned defense. Yes, the unit surrendered the 83-yard drive to Brown’s field goal. But they forced the Rams to settle for the three-pointer after the drive reached the Seahawks’ 14. The Seahawks forced three-and-outs on the Rams’ other two possessions, giving them four in the first half. The Rams had 121 yards in the first half, and 83 came on the field-goal drive.
Play of the quarter: The Rams had a third-and-1 on their second possession of the quarter and wisely gave the ball to RB Steven Jackson. But DT Brandon Mebane collapsed the middle of the line as he and DE Kentwan Balmer stopped Jackson for no gain.
Numbers of the quarter: 7/11. Raheem Brock and Chris Clemons teamed up for a sack of Sam Bradford. That gave Brock seven for the season and Clemons 11.
The bigger picture: The Rams got on the board as Brown kicked a 32-yard field goals with 8:54 left in the half. The three-pointer by the former Seahawk capped a 13-play, 83-yard drive that included Bradford passing to TE Daniel Fells for 15 yards on third-and-2 and Jackson contributing a 13-yard run and a 13-yard reception.
The Seahawks moved into Rams’ territory on the ensuing series, as Whitehurst scrambled for 7 yards to the Rams’ 46. But RB Marshawn Lynch was then dropped for a 4-yard loss and Whitehurst’s third-down pass to WR Ben Obomanu was incomplete.
The defense came up with a three-and-out effort, however, as Mebane and Balmer teamed up to stop Jackson for no gain on a third-and-1 play from the St. Louis 19.
The Seahawks got a big third-down play on the ensuing series, as Whitehurst passed to WR Ruvell Martin for 16 yards. But LT Russell Okung limped off the field after tweaking his sprained left ankle. That caused Chester Pitts to come in at left guard so Tyler Polumbus could slide out to tackle. Pitts was called for a hold on the next play. The Seahawks couldn’t come up with the 20 yards needed for a first down and punted the ball away.
Peephole perspective: Charlie Whitehurst gets the start, and gets the Seahawks a first-possession TD with a 4-yard pass to Mike Williams. Seahawks 7-0.
Player of the quarter: Whitehurst. He was 5 of 5 for 85 yards on the game-opening six-play, 87-yard TD drive. He finished the quarter 8 of 11 for 105 yards and a 132.8 passer rating.
Play of the quarter: The TD was nice, but it was a 61-yard pass play from Whitehurst to WR Ruvell Martin that gave the Seahawks a first down at the Rams’ 13.
Number of the quarter: Three. That’s the number of Sam Bradford passes the Seahawks tipped in the quarter.
The bigger picture: Whitehurst started for the Seahawks, who got the ball first when the Rams called tails in the coin toss and it heads.
Whitehurst then completed each of his five passes – to four different receivers – in a six-play, 87-yard drive that was capped by his 4-yard TD pass to Williams. The big play of the possession was a 61-yard pass play from Whitehurst to Martin to the Rams’ 13. But the Seahawks also got a break when Whitehurst was sacked on third down. Rams CB Rob Bartell was flagged for holding WR Ben Obomanu, so the Seahawks got a first-and-goal from the 7. The Seahawks came out aggressive, as Whitehurst operated from the shotgun and with several three- and four-receiver sets. On the TD, Whitehurst rolled to his right and then three back to his left to Williams.
The defense forced a three-and-out on the Rams’ first possession as SS Lawyer Milloy and DT Brandon Mebane combined to stop FB Mike Karney for no gain on a third-and-1 play.
The Seahawks moved into Rams’ territory on their second possession, as RB Justin Forsett ran for 4 yards on third-and-2 and RB Marshawn Lynch broke a 12-yarder to the Rams’ 43. But Whitehurst threw incomplete to Forsett on third-and-17 and the Jon Ryan punted the ball to the Rams’ 10.
The Seahawks then gave up a 20-yard pass play to RB Steven Jackson on the first play of the Rams’ second possession. But the Rams were forced to punt again when DB Jordan Babineaux rejected Bradford’s third-down pass.
After a Seahawks three-and-out, the Seahawks turned in one of the better defensive series of the season as LB Will Herring played off a block to drop WR Laurent Robinson for a 9-yard loss, DT Craig Terrill tipped Bradford’s second-down pass and LB Aaron Curry deflected his third down pass.
Cornerback and special teams captain Roy Lewis was just presented with the Steve Largent Award, which is voted on annually by the players and given to the player who best exemplifies the spirit, dedication and integrity of the Seahawks.
Lewis, who is on injured reserve following knee surgery, also was named the team’s Man of the Year this season.
The Largent Award is named after Hall of Fame wide receiver Steve Largent, the first winner of the honor in 1989.
If the Seahawks win tonight’s game, they will host the New Orleans Saints in a wild-card playoff game next Saturday at 1:30 p.m.
If it’s the Rams, then the Saints will play in St. Louis – with the same 4:30 p.m. PT kickoff.
The following players are inactive for the Rams:
S Michael Lewis
CB Justin King
LB David Nixon
LB Curtis Johnson
OG John Greco
WR Mardy Gilyard
TE Derek Schouman
DT Jermelle Cudjo
QB Matt Hasselbeck is active for tonight’s game, but still no word on whether he will start after going through his pre-game workout.
Slot receiver Brandon Stokley will not play. He got a concussion in last week’s game at Tampa and did not practice all week.
Also inactive for the Seahawks:
LB Joe Pawelek
OG Paul Fanaika
OT Breno Giacomini
OT Will Robinson
OT Stacy Andrews
DT Amon Gordon
3rd QB: J.P. Losman
Seahawks QB Matt Hasselbeck is on the field. He is taking drops. Making throws. Blowing into his hands to try and warm them. Basically, he is looking like someone who is counting on playing in tonight’s nationally televised game against the Rams at Qwest Field that will decide the NFC West championship.
But it is how coach Pete Carroll, offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates, QB coach Jedd Fisch and trainer Sam Ramsden feel about Hasselbeck after watching his every move that will determine if he does indeed play.
Hasselbeck strained muscles in his left hip and buttock in last week loss to the Bucs in Tampa.
Backup Charlie Whitehurst, who prepared to be the starter all week, just joined the group.