SEATTLE — Sunday was the time for elation.
Golden Tate lay down in the blue paint of a sideline sign that said Thank you 12s. Russell Wilson clutched the game ball as he looped around the south stands for high-fives with fans.
The white lights of the CenturyLink Field scoreboard showed the reason: Seahawks 27, Rams 9.
The Seahawks clinched the NFC West Division title for the first time since 2010. They are the NFC's No. 1 seed heading into the playoffs. They receive a bye and homefield advantage for as long as their playoff run exists.
The only possible remaining road game would be Feb. 2, 2014, at MetLife Stadium in Super Bowl XLVIII.
We know we had a couple shots at it earlier and didnt get that done, so it was frustrating, coach Pete Carroll said. When it came time to finish, we did it.
Seattle will host the lowest-surviving seed from the wild card round in the divisional playoffs Jan. 11 at 1:35 p.m. either New Orleans, Green Bay or San Francisco.
The Seahawks trifecta of triumphs was sealed at the conclusion of a skirmish- and flag-laden afternoon at CenturyLink Field in front of 68,264.
The teams combined for 19 penalties. The Rams were called for 12. At least three times Sunday, referee Jeff Triplette announced offsetting penalties.
He ejected Rams defensive tackle Kendall Langford when Langford accidentally hit an officials hat. Marshawn Lynch had to be restrained by a half-dozen teammates after a late hit out of bounds sent him to the turf.
St. Louis worked to bait the Seahawks at every turn. With mouths, hands to the face and borderline dirty play, the Rams tried to discombobulate Seattle.
I think that was probably their plan, strong safety Kam Chancellor said. Just to get us on the penalty end of the board. But we stayed focused.
Seattle countered the extracurricular, for the most part, with calm backed by brawn.
The leagues top defense began the scoring when linebacker Malcolm Smith intercepted errant Rams quarterback Kellen Clemens for a 37-yard first-quarter touchdown.
Steven Hauschka booted field goals of 28 and 35 yards as the Seahawks crept to a 13-0 halftime lead.
Lynch reset himself after being hit out of bounds. He scored a 2-yard touchdown two plays and three flags later for a 20-3 lead with 2:21 remaining in the third quarter.
He didn't celebrate much, opting to sternly walk off the field after a group hug. He made his way to the ensuing special teams huddle where he encouraged Chancellor to go do some damage.
Golden Tates 47-yard touchdown catch in the fourth quarter pushed the Seahawks up 27-3.
The 27 points were more than sufficient. The Rams scored a late touchdown against a mix of defensive backups.
Prior, there was no movement against the Seahawks defense.
Rams rookie running back Zac Stacy gained a season-high 134 yards in the first game against Seattle. He had 15 carries for 15 yards Sunday.
Clemens was intercepted twice. For the season, Clemens has been intercepted seven times. Four of those were against the Seahawks.
Yet Clemens was thankful for one thing postgame. He scrambled during a fourth-quarter drive and saw Chancellor pivot, then start toward him. Clemens waved to Chancellor that he was going to slide in an effort, essentially, not to be mangled by one of the leagues most ferocious hitters.
It was kind of a pull-off wave, I guess, Chancellor said.
Clemens thanked Chancellor afterward. The Rams had been beaten. It was simply time to go home with hides intact.
After the moderate on-field celebration, the music thumped in the Seattle locker room. Players tugged on rigid "NFC West Champions" hats, danced with varying abilities and looked forward.
The bye week will be used to heal and plan. The Seahawks will host a divisional playoff game in two weeks for the first time since they went to the Super Bowl in 2005.
The preseason pursuits set up for the regular season had been accomplished.
I dont think it hit me yet, free safety Earl Thomas said. Im just ready for whats coming next. Youve got to keep tunnel vision. This is a great stepping stone. We did what we want. But weve still got some business left out there.