One of the best kickers in the world lined up for one of his more makeable kicks.
On the opposing sideline, Russell Wilson prayed.
As Greg Zuerlein booted his 44-yard field goal attempt, the ball went right of the goal posts. It stayed right.
All absolutely right for the Seahawks.
Wilson roared on the Seahawks’ sideline to his teammates “LET’S GO!” Fellow hero Tedric Thompson just spread his arms wide, soaking in the roars of a delirious CenturyLink Field.
K.J. Wright, the longest-tenured Seahawk?
“I cried,” he said, a first in the 30-year-old’s football life.
Wilson’s four touchdown passes, the last on fourth down to Chris Carson with 2:28 left to cap a 7-minute drive put Seattle ahead. Thompson’s remarkable interception turned the Rams away once. Then the defending NFC champions moved from their own 7-yard line to the Seattle 27 in the final frantic seconds.
But Zuerlein’s miss with 5 seconds remaining ensured the Seahawks finally beat the Rams, a 30-29 victory in a thrilling, fantastic NFC West showdown in rockin’ SoDo Thursday night.
“It was special tonight,” Wilson said.
Retired Kam Chancellor was hugging former teammates and the bass was poppin’ inside a bonkers Seahawks locker room after they ended Los Angeles’ three-game winning streak in this series. It was only Seattle’s third win in nine tries against the recent new kings of the division.
And it is likely to be remembered around here for as long as Mount Rainier is tall.
“I shed some tears today,” Wright, the Seahawks’ Pro Bowl linebacker said. “And it felt good.
He said the win is “up there” in drama with the NFC championship games. That was January 2014 when Richard Sherman tipped a last pass away from Michael Crabtree to send the Seahawks over the 49ers and into Super Bowl 48 en route to Seattle’s only NFL title. And the following season when Seattle rallied from down 16-0 in the second half at home to Green Bay to win in overtime and go to Super Bowl 49.
“That,” Wright said of Thursday night, “was one of the greatest games I’ve ever been a part of.”
Tyler Lockett said the only game he’s played in with a wilder finish was Seattle’s escape from a Minnesota ice box in the NFC wild-card playoffs, the Jan. 2016 chiller when Vikings’ kicker Blair Walsh missed a short field goal in on a 25-below-zero day in Minneapolis.
That’s how epic this one was.
Before the game, on the field, the Seahawks honored Paul Allen by making their late owner the fitting 12th member of their Ring of Honor.
After it, Wilson handed the game ball to Seahawks’ vice chair Bert Kolde, one of Allen’s close friends. The quarterback looked and sounded absolutely spent.
He said it was because of Allen, the Microsoft Corp. co-founder who saved the Seahawks from moving to California by buying them in 1997. Allen died in October 2018.
“Just emotional because, you know, tonight was to tribute Paul Allen,” Wilson said, almost hoarse. “I think about what he meant to this world, and just to me, personally, and my family. He gave me an opportunity to play here. I’m one of 32 men in the world who get to do what I get to do, and I’m grateful for that.
“I was telling the guys in the locker room...for those (new) guys who didn’t know Paul, Paul believed big. ...
“I was telling the guys, I think at the end of the game, he blew a little wind on that (kick), to the right.”
Wilson then blew out two short breaths.
The Super Bowl winner and six-time Pro Bowl passer continued what his coach says is the best start to a season in his stellar career completing 17 of 23 passes for 268 yards, the four scores and a near-perfect passer rating of 151.8.
“He was spectacular. I don’t remember him being that on, that thoroughly in the game in really difficult situations,” Carroll said. “Exquisite. Awesome.”
The Seahawks (4-1) became one of the chased instead of chasers for the midseason in the division. This is tied for the best start to a season after five games in franchise history. The teams in 2016, 2013, 2006, 2003, 1986 and ‘84 started 4-1. All but the ‘86 team made the playoffs.
Seattle is essentially two games ahead of the Rams (3-2) right now, given the head-to-head tie-breaker. These teams meet again Dec. 8 in Los Angeles.
It may not be possible for that game, or very many games, to be better than this one.
Wilson scrambled on fourth and goal with 2 1/2 minutes left. The Rams swarmed to the middle, to Wilson.
“I was about to take off and run,” Wilson said. “And out of the corner of my eye, kind
The quarterback then calmly flipped the ball to wide-open running back Carson, who was standing alone at the right edge of the end zone. For drama this game already had, Carson almost dropped the ball. Turns out, he’d lost the ball in the stadium’s lights under its cantilever roof.
“Inside I had a panic,” Carson said, joining Seahawks fans from Blaine to Belgium.
Then, he saw the ball after it hit his hands.
“Oh, shoot. There it is,” he said to himself.
Yes, he said he thought “shoot.”
Carson tapped the ball back to himself for the touchdown, Wilson’s fourth TD throw of this wild night, and a 30-29 lead for Seattle.
So much for those four fumbles Carson had in the first three games of this Seahawks season. Carson bulled through and around Rams for 118 yards on 27 carries, his second 100-yard rushing game in four days.
“I loved his night. Physical again,” Carroll said.
“Such a determined player. Isn’t it great we didn’t give up on him,” the coach said, poking at Carson’s many critics from last month. “Wouldn’t that be crazy.
“’Sit him down. Don’t let him play.’
“BS to that.”
On the Rams’ ensuing drive, Seahawks safety Bradley McDougald deftly broke up a pass outside on second and 10. Then Goff threw high and (apparently) incomplete over the middle to tight end Gerald Everett. The ball deflected off Everett’s hands. Thompson dived, got both hands under the ball, scooped it to himself.
Officials stuck by their ruling of incomplete pass. Then coach Pete Carroll chucked his red challenge flag like a lawn dart, firing it from the Seahawks’ sideline to the middle of the field, for emphasis. His coaches in the booth upstairs saw the same thing fans soon saw on the stadium’s big video board: Thompson actually caught the pass before it hit the ground.
While referee Scott Novak went to the sideline to review the play with NFL headquarters in New York, Thompson and his fellow Seahawks defensive backs already knew the result. They ran to the north end zone to celebrate with those screaming fans. Then they ran 100-plus yards beyond the other end zone to celebrate with the roaring masses behind the south end zone.
As CenturyLink Field shook, Novak announced what had become apparent on replay review thanks to Thompson’s conveniently bright white gloves contrasted against the green artificial turf. Interception. Seahawks ball with 2:08 left.
Asked if he always wears white glove, Thompson said: “Low-key, yes.
“It helped there.”
But Seattle’s offense then went three and out at midfield. Michael Dickson punted the Rams to the 7-yard line. Los Angeles had 1:39 and no time outs left.
“We got too happy with the lead, I think,” Wright said after Thompson’s interception.
Goff (29 of 49, 395 yards, one touchdown, one interception) showed why Los Angeles guaranteed him a record $107 million last month.
But it was ultimately for naught.
The Seahawks had the Rams backed into a third and 13 at the Seattle 47 with 11 minutes left and Los Angeles leading 26-24. Goff then threw a brilliant pass over breaking Seahawks cornerback Shaquill Griffin to Cooper Kupp for 26 yards to the Seattle 21.
Seahawks defensive end Branden Jackson then kept the Rams from a possible touchdown. L.A. threw a quick bubble screen outside right to wide receiver Robert Woods. He had blockers in front of him to the end zone after the catch. But Jackson sprinted from pass rushing in the middle of the line to the outside to pull down Woods before he got running, for a just a 3-yard gain.
“A spectacular play,” Carroll said.
The Rams had to settle for a field goal instead. Seattle still trailed by only one score with 9 minutes left, 29-24.
On the ensuing drive the Seahawks snapped quickly and Carson ran for 3 yard to convert a third and 1, to the Rams 40.
Wilson was incredibly accurate. Again. He entered the final quarter 15 for 19 passing for 251 yards, three touchdowns and a perfect passing of 158.3.
The Seahawks began the final period with a second down the Rams 15-yard line. But then left guard Mike Iupati got his third holding penalty of the game. On third and 17, Wilson scrambled then seemed to surprise wide receiver Jaron Brown with a pass to the goal line down the middle. It sailed wide of him. Seattle settled for a field goal by Jason Myers from 42 yards to cut Los Angeles’ lead to 26-24. But it was a missed opportunity for the lead.
OH, THOSE SLOW STARTS
For the third time in three home games, the Seahawks started by compounding their own mistakes. Iupati got called for holding on the game’s second play. On second and 18, Jaron Brown catch a pass then lost a fumble along the sideline.
Seattle was more than fortunate to be down only 6-0 early.
LOCKETT’S AMAZING SCORE
Then it was time for another episode of Russell Wilson at the Improv, co-starring Will Dissly.
Wilson scrambled away from what was constant Rams pressure in the first half and throw to Dissly on a the tight end’s improvisational route all the way across the field for a 38-yard gain.
On the next play, Lockett made a catch they will replay around the Pacific Northwest for as long as Lockett owns a smile. In other words, forever.
Wilson scrambled away from pressure yet again. Lockett was running his pet favorite route, from the right across the field to the left on a deep, slanting crossing route. Rams cornerback Marcus Peters, from the University of Washington jumped the route he’d seen countless times in previous seasons playing and studying the Seahawks. As Wilson kept scrambling, he heaved the ball into the end zone as far to the left side of the field as possible.
Lockett kept running to the boundary. Though still covered, he stopped and posted the tops of both his cleats into the turf just inside the sideline boundary. He caught the ball as if in dance pose, keeping both sets of toes down inbounds for an exquisite touchdown that put Seattle ahead for the first time.
The NFL’s “Next Gen” Stats said it was the most unlikely catch for a touchdown in the league in three seasons, however they measure that.
“Everybody’s just raving it’s one of the best catches they’ve ever seen,” Carroll said.
Lockett said it’s the best toe tap he’s ever pulled off.
“You’ve just got to make a play,” he said.
Then he made another.
Lockett helped put the Seahawks ahead 14-6 by running that same, deep right-to-left crossing route in the second quarter. Having seen Peters jump that route earlier, Seahawks offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer had Lockett abruptly stop it this time and go back to the right. Rookie wide receiver DK Metcalf broke from the left into the void Lockett usually goes on during his pet route.
No one took Metcalf, who was in the clear behind Lockett for his second career touchdown, 40 yards. Seattle led 14-6.
“True perfection there,” Wilson said.
Lockett didn’t want to fully disclose the method behind that play. But when I asked if it was a new variation to his pet route, Lockett smiled and said, “You can trust your instincts.”
CARROLL ONE BITTEN, TWICE SHY
Jason Myers—and Pete Carroll’s choice—let the Rams back in a game that was on the verge of being a two-touchdown lead for Seattle late in the second quarter.
The Seahawks had a third and 1 at the Los Angeles 30 with 2 minutes left in the half and Seattle leading 14-6. Chris Carson got stopped for no gain inside. Carroll had the offense lining up as if to go for the first down on fourth and a half-yard. The Rams called a defensive time out.
After it, Carroll had Wilson try to draw the Rams offside with a hard snap count. L.A. stayed disciplined. Wilson called a time out before the play clock expired.
Carroll had seen Carson get stopped on third and 1 and fourth and 1 at the same area of the field in the previous home game, the loss to New Orleans. He’d just seen Carson get stopped again.
And All-Word defensive tackle Aaron Donald was lined up opposite Seahawks backup tackle Jamarco Jones, who was having to play right guard because D.J. Fluker got a hamstring injury in the first quarter and backup guard Ethan Pocic was inactive again with a neck injury.
So Carroll sent out Myers for a 48-yard field-goal attempt.
Tyler Ott’s snap was a tad wide left of holder and punter Michael Dickson. Myers’ kick started right and stayed just wide right, no good.
The Rams got new life. Goff quickly completed six of eight passes. The last one was 9 yards for a touchdown to Cooper Kupp, when Seattle curiously had premier pass rusher Jadedevon Clowney dropping 10 yards off the middle into pass coverage in the middle of the field. Goff easily had time versus the three-man rush to find Kupp for the touchdown that left Seattle ahead only 14-13 at halftime.
It should have been 17-6 Seahawks. It could have been 21-6.
Myers’ miss was his second in four tries this season since signing a $16 million, four-year contract in the spring. The 2018 Pro Bowl kicker with the New York Jets was no good on both attempts from more than 40 yards.
Myers’ miss changed Thursday’s game. The Rams’ three drives after it: touchdown, touchdown, touchdown. And Seattle trailed 26-21 late in the third quarter.
It would have been 28-21, but Seahawks defensive tackle Al Woods pulled Goff back just off the goal line on the quarterback’s scramble run on a two-point conversion try.
In the end, the Rams could have used those two points Woods saved for Seattle. Woods continues to shine in his debut season after the Seahawks signed the 32-year-old veteran run-stopper this offseason.
“What a great tackle,” Carroll said.
“That was a fantastic play.”
DEFENSE DOES ITS JOB EARLY
The first three times the Rams got inside the Seahawks 25-yard line in the first half, Seattle’s defense did its job keeping them out of the end zone.
The first was after Jaron Brown fumbled away a catch on the second offensive play of the game. Rams cornerback Marcus Peters, back where he played college football at Washington, recovered the ball at the Seattle 33. Los Angeles turned that into a field goal after K.J. Wright batted a third-down pass from tight end Gerald Everett.
Nickel defensive back Jamar Taylor’s pass break-up on third down at the Seahawks 14 forced L.A. to settle for a second field goal by Greg Zuerlein and a 6-0 lead.
Then Clowney and Bobby Wagner combined for a huge defensive play just as the Rams were driving to perhaps tie a 14-6 game. Gurley was running parallel to the line trying to bounce a run outside at the Seahawks 17-yard line. Wagner made a hit that stood up the Rams running back. The All-Pro linebacker and Clowney combined to rip out the ball just before Gurley went to the turf. Clowney recovered the fumble, and the Seahawks stayed ahead 14-6 late in the second quarter.
JONES ON THE SPOT
Jones said he had never before played a game at guard.
Not at Ohio State. Not in high school. Not in Pee Wee or flag.
Carroll praised him for how he kept Donald from disrupting the game, as the Rams’ All-Pro almost always does.
“He really tries to do things right,” Carroll said of last year’s draft choice who spent all his rookie season on injured reserve last year after ankle surgery.
“The got the job done (in) fantastic fashion.”