SEATTLE - There were no fireworks from the Seahawks this week. Instead, Seattle produced just enough. Russell Wilson
ran it in from one yard out with 1:39 left and the Seahawks beat the Rams 20-13 on Sunday at CenturyLink Field to finish 11-5 -- their best record since the 2005 team went 13-3 and made it to the Super Bowl. Seattle rides a five-game winning streak to close the regular season and went 8-0 at home.
Seattle's path back to the ultimate game will be more difficult and begin on the road. San Francisco's 27-13 win over the Arizona Cardinals clinched the NFC West for the 49ers. Seattle will be the No. 5 seed in the playoffs and travel to face the Washington Redskins next Sunday at 4:30 p.m. The Redskins earned the No. 4 seed by beating the Cowboys Sunday in a de facto NFC East title game and made the postseason after a 3-6 start.
"We feel like we're a team to be reckoned with in this league," Seattle fullback Michael Robinson
A year after a disastrous 2-14 season, the Rams finished 7-8-1 and have not made the playoffs since 2004.
Richard Sherman picked off a Sam Bradford
pass just in front of the end zone with 33 seconds left to seal the win for Seattle after Wilson led a 10-play, 90-yard fourth-quarter drive for the winning score.
"I was waiting on the up all day," Sherman said. "When I got an opportunity to overlap, I overlapped and got my hands on it."
The Rams did make it tough on the Seahawks, however. St. Louis pressured Wilson (15-for-19, 250 yards) throughout the afternoon.
But, the Seahawks presented a nice counter to all the Rams' pressure and it put Wilson in the record books in the third quarter. He lofted a 10-yard touchdown pass to Robinson to give the Seahawks a 13-10 lead with 2:09 to play in the third. It was Wilson's 26th touchdown pass of the season and tied him with Peyton Manning for the rookie quarterback record.
More importantly, the drive provided signs of life for what had been a stagnant Seahawks offense much of the afternoon despite 18 carries for 100 yards from Marshawn Lynch.
The Rams answered with a 25-yard field goal from Greg Zuerlein to tie the game 13-13 with 11:23 left in the game. He also capped an 11-play, 60-yard drive with a 39-yard field goal to put the Rams up 10-6 with 5:31 to play in the third quarter.
A sack of Wilson by Chris Long pushed Seattle back 10 yards on third-and-2 from the Rams' 22-yard line. But, Steven Hauschka was able to hit from 49 yards out to pull the Seahawks within 7-6 with 10:41 to go in the third quarter. The key to the drive was a 49-yard completion to tight end Anthony McCoy.
The Rams punished Wilson throughout the first half. Long delivered St. Louis' fifth sack of the half when he took down Wilson with 2:00 left in the half. The six sacks by the Rams on Sunday were the most against Wilson and the Seahawk's line with two Pro Bowlers this season.
"You kind of just continue to play and don't worry about," Wilson said of getting hit often.
After punting three times the past two games, when Seattle scored 92 points, the Seahawks punted four times in the first half Sunday.
Meanwhile, St. Louis relied on Steven Jackson per usual. He became the sixth player in NFL history with 1,000 rushing yards in eight consecutive seasons when he burst up the middle for a 14-yard gain early in the second quarter. He carried 11 times for 52 yards.
Bradford (25-for-42, 252 yards and a touchdown) hit Austin Pettis for a 2-yard touchdown and a 7-3 Rams lead with 6:03 left in the second quarter. The ball was tipped and Pettis was able to cradle it in in front of rookie cornerback Jeremy Lane. The Rams went after Lane on the previous play, too, when Bradford hit Chris Givens for a 37-yard gain. Lane is playing in place of suspended corner Brandon Browner.
"There weren't too many people who thought this game was going to be close except us," St. Louis coach Jeff Fisher said.
Hauschka kicked a 43-yard field with 10:40 remaining in the second quarter to give the Seahawks an early and short-lived 3-0 lead.
While Seattle prepares for the playoffs, St. Louis heads home with an early eye toward next season.
"I think those guys in that room can stand up and say, 'Hey, the Rams are back,'" Fisher said. "That's what we wanted to accomplish this year."
NOTES: Lynch had a career-high 10 games this season with 100 or more rushing yards. ... St. Louis linebacker Rocky McIntosh left the game because of a concussion. ... Rams defensive tackle Michael Brockers injured his ankle during the game. ... Seattle linebacker Leroy Hill was among the inactives for the Seahawks. ... Seattle Sounders coach Sigi Schmid raised the 12th Man flag.
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