Defense carries Rams past Seahawks
There was not enough fourth-quarter magic for the Seahawks on Saturday.
In fact, there was precious little Seattle magic in its NFC Wild Card Playoff loss to the Los Angeles Rams at Lumen Field.
The Rams were dominant along the line of scrimmage and made the game-changing plays in a 30-20 win at Seattle that ends the Seahawks' season and sends Los Angeles to the divisional playoff round.
The result ends a run of 10 consecutive playoff wins at home for the Seahawks, though Lumen Field was not the cauldron of noise it is when filled with fans.
"Really frustrated to be done. The suddenness of this, there's nothing like it. You just have to deal with it," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said.
Seattle played close games almost every week this season and went 12-4 to win the NFC West, with quarterback Russell Wilson several times providing fourth-quarter heroics.
The formula for the Rams' success was to contain Wilson. Los Angeles did that in a big way — sacking the Seattle quarterback five times and hitting him 10 more times.
"It was really hard on him," Carroll said. "The pressure was hard, the coverage was good, and we weren't able to function clean enough.
"He was up against it all day."
Wilson finished 11 of 27 for 174 yards. He did throw two touchdown passes to DK Metcalf, one on a broken play in the first half, but also threw an interception returned for a Rams touchdown.
A Jason Myers 51-yard field goal at the start of the third quarter pulled the Hawks within seven points. The score remained 20-13 entering the fourth quarter, but by the time Seattle scored again, the game was all but over.
Seattle did not have a takeaway and lost two turnovers, a tough formula in a game that was expected to be close.
The Seahawks' chances all but ended when Samson Ekubam, out of David Douglas High, knocked the ball away from Seattle punt returner D.J. Reed Jr. The Rams recovered at the Seattle 36 and four plays later were up 30-13 when Jared Goff found a wide-open Robert Woods for a 15-yard touchdown with 4:46 left in the game.
Goff, coming off thumb surgery, entered on the Rams second drive when John Wolford was knocked out of the game. On a quarterback run, Seattle's Jamal Adams hit a diving Wolford in the helmet with his shoulder pad.
Wolford went to a Seattle hospital, but checked out fine and was back in time to celebrate with his Rams' teammates.
Goff did not need to do much, finishing 9 of 19 for 155 yards, because Cam Akers and the Rams ground game kept churning out consistent yardage. Akers carried 28 times for 131 yards and a touchdown as Los Angeles ran the ball 43 times for 164 net yards.
Before leaving in the third quarter with an injury, the Rams' Aaron Donald was living in the Seahawks' backfield. He finished with two sacks and three quarterback hits. Leonard Floyd also had two sacks.
Carroll pointed to Donald as the biggest reason the Seahawks offense averaged less than 19 points and had five turnovers in three games against LA.
"There's one factor in this whole thing since we've been playing these guys, and that's No. 99 (Donald)," Carroll said. "He hasn't just torn us up, he's torn everybody up. He continues to be a significant factor, He tilts it somewhat."
Seattle finished 2 for 14 on third down, most of them seven or more yards.
The Seattle defense kept the Hawks within striking distance most of the afternoon. Bobby Wagner had a huge game on defense for Seattle, making 16 tackles (11 solo) and one sack.
But Los Angeles ran 71 plays to Seattle's 57 and, playing with the lead, never gave the Seahawks momentum.
The key play of the game was a 42-yard interception return for a touchdown by Los Angeles' Darius Williams with 6:46 left in the second quarter. It put the visitors up 13-3.
Wilson threw quickly to the left sideline for Metcalf, but Williams anticipated the throw, avoided the block of Seattle's Freddie Swain, and stepped in front of Metcalf.
"Great play by the kid. He took a shot and got it," Carroll said of the interception by Williams. "That was a big play in the game, kind of loomed the whole time that seven points. That's no mistake on Russ' part at all, that's just a great play by them."
That touchdown was part of a 17-point second quarter that had the Rams up 20-10 at halftime.
The Seahawks' offense, limited to 155 yards in the first half, answered with its only big play of the half. Wilson, who was sacked three times and hit often in the first half, escaped to his left and found Metcalf behind the defense for an ad-lib 51-yard touchdown.
But the Rams responded with a 75-yard, five-play drive to go up 10 points. Akers had a key 44-yard catch and run on a third-and-9 play and scored the TD from five yards out.
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