After being shut out though a dreary first half Sunday, the Seattle Seahawks needed a spark.
They ended up getting several on their way to a 20-6 win over the St. Louis Rams, and two of the biggest came from rookie receivers Paul Richardson and Kevin Norwood.
Richardson’s came on the first possession of the second half, when quarterback Russell Wilson lofted a pass down the left sideline. Richardson lifted above St. Louis cornerback Janoris Jenkins and came down with a 32-yard reception.
“The ball was in the air; I had to make a play, man,” he said. “Russell and I have been working on our chemistry, and everything fell into place on that play. … You’ve got to find a way to reach the ball and maintain possession.”
Four plays later, the Seahawks got their first points.
Richardson was asked if he noticed any change in the offense after his catch.
“I think every time a receiver makes a first down or a great catch between guys or something like that, it excites our group,” he said. “I think as long as we’re excited on the outside, we keep those guys on the inside excited. And our running backs, they do their thing every week.”
Seattle took its first lead on its first possession of the fourth quarter. And that touchdown drive was sparked by Norwood, who caught a short pass in space and turned it down the sideline for 31 yards before being shoved out at the 9.
“The corner bit on a seam, so it left me wide open,” Norwood said. “I seen the ball coming my way, and I took off with it.”
Marshawn Lynch covered the final 9 yards on the next play. That put the Seahawks up, 13-6, and on their way to a win that would give them the top seed in the NFC and home-field advantage through the playoffs.
“It means everything right now,” Richardson said. “That’s what we do: We take it one game at a time. We’ll enjoy the moment until we move on to the next team.”
On the day, Richardson led the Seahawks with five receptions for 60 yards. Norwood had two catches for 34 yards.
“They were lights-out tonight,” Wilson said. “They made some big catches. Paul Richardson going down the sideline, making that catch. … Kevin Norwood gets that third-down play when we really needed it. Those guys just keep showing up, they keep being on time, they keep working, they keep studying, they keep learning. That’s what you’re looking for. We’re going to need that in the playoffs.”
Richardson ended his rookie regular season with 29 catches, good for fourth on the team. Norwood had nine.
“The biggest thing for them is just having the mental toughness,” said veteran Doug Baldwin, Seattle’s leading receiver with 66 catches for 825 yards. “Being a receiver in this offense, you’ve got to have mental toughness, and those guys have shown that. They’ve shown that they’re capable of making the big play when it comes to them, because obviously in this offense you don’t get a lot of opportunities, so you have to be ready at a moment’s call, and they were able to do that today.”
Norwood had been inactive for the previous two games, and he might have been again Sunday except for the hamstring injury that kept receiver Jermaine Kearse out of action. However, Norwood said he was used to the uncertainty, having gone through something similar as an underclassman at Alabama.
“When I first started college I always had to work my way through it, and I never knew if I was playing and stuff like that,” he said. “When I got here, it was like the same thing all over again. To be honest, I’m just very grateful to be here. I thank the Lord above. When my opportunity comes, I want to make the best of it.”