A loss to the hosting St. Louis Rams in Week 7 had many questioning if the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks would even be able to make the playoffs.
A victory over those same Rams this Sunday at CentruyLink Field will give the Seahawks a second straight NFC West title and the possibility of home-field advantage throughout the conference playoffs.
Seattle was just 3-3 on the season following a 28-26 loss to St. Louis on Oct. 13, just the Seahawks’ third setback in their past 19 meetings with the Rams. But the defending champs have won eight of their last nine games — including five straight — to clinch their ninth postseason berth in the past 12 years.
The Seahawks’ current winning streak began with a win the Arizona Cardinals and Seattle swept the season series between the clubs with last Sunday’s 35-6 victory in Glendale. The two clubs are tied atop the NFC West standings at 11-4, with the Seahawks needing a win or a loss by the Cardinals to secure the division title.
The Seahawks can also make sure that the road to the Super Bowl in the NFC goes through Seattle with a victory as long as the Detroit/Green Bay matchup on Sunday does not end in a tie.
They could also do so with a win and a Dallas Cowboys loss to Washington.
Seattle racked up a franchise-record 596 yards of offense versus Arizona last weekend, with 267 of that coming on the ground. Russell Wilson ran for 88 yards on six carries with a score while also throwing for 339 yards and two touchdowns.
“That’s a lot of yards against a really tough group,” Seattle head coach Pete Carroll said. “Just a fantastic job.”
Marshawn Lynch added 113 yards and two touchdowns on just 10 carries, including a career-high 79-yard scoring run that put the game away.
The Seahawks already held a 21-6 advantage before Lynch, battling a stomach illness, burst through the hole and cut across the field along the right sideline and stiff-armed Arizona cornerback Patrick Peterson at the Seattle 45.
Lynch then powered through Peterson and Cardinals safety Rashad Johnson across midfield and Alex Okafor was unable to make a shoe-string tackle at the 20 before Lynch leapt into the end zone to complete the phenomenal touchdown with 10:14 left to play.
“As good of a run as I remember seeing,” Carroll said.
Tight end Luke Willson caught three passes for 139 yards and two touchdowns and Doug Baldwin hauled in seven receptions for 113 yards in the triumph, while Seattle’s top-ranked defense held Arizona to 216 yards of offense.
The Rams come in needing a victory to match last season’s 7-9 record and they’ll try to avoid a third straight loss to end the campaign.
St. Louis pitched back-to-back shutout wins over San Diego and Oakland ahead of a 12-6 loss to Arizona in which the Rams again did not allow a touchdown. However, they struggled to keep the New York Giants out of the end zone last Sunday, falling in defeat 37-27.
Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. racked up 148 yards and two touchdowns as well as some late hits from the Rams defense. One by linebacker Alec Ogletree in the second quarter sparked a brawl that saw three players ejected, including Rams defensive end William Hayes.
In all, the teams combined for 21 penalties totaling 225 yards.
“Very disappointed in the actions on the other sideline, there’s no place for that in the game,” said Rams coach Jeff Fisher. “It just was unfortunate that it got out of hand over there. I thought the officials did a nice job controlling it.”
Shaun Hill threw for 290 yards with two touchdown passes and an interception, while wide out Kenny Britt made nine catches for 103 yards. Rookie running back Tre Mason ran for a score and 76 yards on 13 carries.
Shaun Hill hit on 24-of-32 throws for 290 yards with two touchdowns and an interception for the Rams. Kenny Britt finished with 103 yards on nine catches, while Tre Mason had 76 yards and a touchdown on 13 rushes in the loss.
However, the St. Louis defense was tagged for 514 yards of offense by the Giants.
“I guess I’ll say I’m extremely disappointed in a number of areas. Defensively, we’ve been playing better defense than that obviously,” noted Fisher.
The Rams have lost nine straight in Seattle, having not won there since 2004.