Rams look playoff ready after thumping of Seahawks
By TIM BOOTH
Dec. 18, 2017
SEATTLE (AP) — In the span of a week, the Los Angeles Rams changed the conversation from not being ready for the big games to now appearing ready and dangerous for the playoffs.
The Rams aren't in the postseason yet. But the biggest step they've taken toward a postseason return came Sunday in their 42-7 blowout of the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday. It was a big game on a big stage with postseason implications, and the Rams made the Seahawks look hapless with a dominating performance.
There is still one more step for the Rams to take in order to wrap up that postseason berth, but any question about their playoff potential was put to rest against the Seahawks.
"We're very pleased with what we did today and now we'll see if we can follow it up with a good performance next week," Rams coach Sean McVay said. "Seattle has been in the playoffs a handful of years in a row now. They have won the division three of the last four years now. We came in here and took advantage of that today."
There was a rightful bit of skepticism about the Rams (10-4) coming into Sunday. They had stumbled earlier this season against Seattle and Minnesota. And just a week ago, the Rams couldn't close out Philadelphia and lost 43-35 at home to the NFC-best Eagles.
But they took full advantage of a banged-up Seattle defense and flustered Russell Wilson to where his greatest contribution was making sure the Seahawks (8-6) didn't get shut out.
Todd Gurley was fantastic as a ball carrier with 152 yards rushing and three TDs on the ground, and another TD reception in the third quarter that gave the Rams a 40-0 lead. Los Angeles won on special teams, in field position and sacked Wilson seven times. Seattle's playmakers were spectators and the Seahawks looked closer to the end of an era than being worthy playoff contenders.
"We didn't handle Todd Gurley very well, he was on fire. But schematically, we let some things go. We made some mistakes, too, that got the ball out there," Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. "It's really hard for me to explain to you because this is something that I haven't seen us do, and play that far off."
Gurley was the star, averaging 7.2 yards per carry. He had 144 yards rushing at halftime, including a 57-yard TD sprint in the final minute of the first half to give the Rams a 34-0 lead at the break. He's the second player in Rams history — joining Marshall Faulk — with at least 150 yards rushing, three TD runs and a TD catch in a single game.
Here's what else to know from the Rams' dominant performance:
FIELD POSITION: It's easy to score when seemingly every drive starts around midfield. That was the case for the Rams, who had six possessions in the first half start at midfield or inside Seattle territory. Not surprisingly, the Rams scored on all six possessions, including a drive that started at the Seattle 1 after Pharoh Cooper's 53-yard punt return. The Rams' average starting position for the game was their 47-yard line.
"To flip the field consistently like our punt return unit has done has been huge for our offense to be in that spot," McVay said.
WORST LOSS: Carroll's first season in Seattle in 2010 ended with a division title, but mixed in were some of the worst losses of his tenure with the Seahawks. Included were three games allowing 40 points and a 34-point loss to the New York Giants.
Sunday's loss brought back many of the memories from that first season. It was the first time Seattle had allowed 40 points since late in the 2010 season and the 35-point defeat was the most lopsided of Carroll's tenure.
"This is the only game you've ever seen us play like this," Carroll said. "I can't remember back to Year 1 or something like that. Our expectations were that we were going to be right in the middle of this thing."
SACK ATTACK: The Rams' seven sacks of Wilson tied a season high for the Rams and matched the most times Wilson has been sacked in his career, the last coming in the 2014 season. Los Angeles did an excellent job of clogging the escape lanes, so Wilson couldn't extend plays. Aaron Donald was most troublesome with three sacks.
BAD RUSS: The stats say Wilson had a pedestrian game, but he made mistakes early that proved costly. Wilson was off-target with some early throws when Seattle was struggling to get any consistency on offense. He fumbled when he left the ball on the ground trying spin out of a sack and later lost 23 yards throwing a backward pass as he attempted to avoid another sack.
Seattle ran one offensive play in Rams territory in the first 10 drives of the game.