Andrew Whitworth was sitting on the bench with his helmet on the ground. Jared Goff was busy in conversation with referee Clete Blakeman about a previous play. Initially, the Los Angeles Rams believed coach Sean McVay would take the safe play and punt rather than the risk of going for it on fourth down with less than 2 minutes remaining inside Rams territory.
That’s not the style of McVay, or these still unbeaten Rams.
“We knew we were going to get it,” running back Todd Gurley said.
Rather than give the ball back to Russell Wilson, McVay believed in his offense to pick up less than a yard. And when Jared Goff plowed forward to convert the fourth-and-1 with 1:39 left, the Rams celebrated a 33-31 victory over the Seattle Seahawks that kept Los Angeles perfect at 5-0.
Gurley carried the load, rushing for three touchdowns, and Goff passed for one score and threw for 321 yards despite losing two of his top receivers to concussions in the first half. But it was the final plunge by Goff that sealed a victory over a division rival and left the Rams with a three-game lead in the NFC West.
“That offense has (guts) and we’re riding behind them,” defensive end Michael Brockers said.
Cairo Santos atoned for a missed extra point with a 39-yard field goal with 6:05 remaining to give the Rams a 33-31 lead, capping a 61-yard drive that took 4½ minutes.
That still left time for Wilson, but Seattle (2-3) made a pair of critical mistakes after moving into position to win. Wilson hit Tyler Lockett for 44 yards on the second play of the drive to the Rams’ 32-yard line. But a pair of penalties backed up the Seahawks to the Rams’ 45. Facing third-and-23, Wilson was pressured from the pocket by Cory Littleton and Seattle punted with 3:38 left.
The Seahawks never got the ball back.
“That was hard. We’re there. Knock a couple more yards out, kick a field goal and win the game,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. “Unfortunately we didn’t get it.”
Gurley had runs of 12, 2 and 7 yards on the final drive, but was stuffed on third-and-1 at the 42 with 1:39 left. The Rams initially trotted out punter Johnny Hekker, but Seattle used its final timeout following a measurement. Given more time to think about it, McVay put the offense back on the field and Goff plowed forward for 2 yards.
“It was all riding on that one play and we got a really, really good jump on them up front,” Goff said.
Rams receivers Brandin Cooks and Cooper Kupp both suffered concussions late in the first half. Los Angeles turned to the likes of Josh Reynolds, Tyler Higbee and Gerald Everett to make up for the absences. And the team leaned heavily on Gurley and wide receiver Robert Woods. Gurley finished with 77 yards rushing on 22 carries, and twice scored on 2-yard runs and added a 5-yard TD. Woods had five catches for 92 yards.
“You need to know that when these games come around, can you finish. That’s what we did today,” Gurley said.
Wilson threw for three touchdowns and Seattle had a running back top 100 yards rushing for a third straight game as Chris Carson rumbled for 116 yards. The running game was the foundation for all of Wilson’s success through the air as Seattle finished with 190 yards on the ground, including 68 yards and a touchdown from Mike Davis.
With Los Angeles needing to respect the run, Wilson found his shots over the top. His 39-yard TD pass to Lockett in the first half came off play-action, as did the 30-yard TD toss to David Moore in the third quarter. Both times, Rams cornerback Marcus Peters was beaten, and the Seahawks got the big plays needed to hang with the Rams. Moore also had a 3-yard TD catch.
Cooks was hurt late in the second quarter when he was hit by Tedric Thompson as he came across the field. Most of the hit was with Thompson’s shoulder, but there was some helmet-to-helmet impact and Cooks appeared to be immediately knocked out. He jogged off the field on his own but was ruled out early in the second half.
Kupp was also lost with a concussion, although the play he was injured on wasn’t obvious. Kupp was in on the desperation throw into the end zone on the final play of the first half, but didn’t rejoin his teammates to start the third quarter.
It was an eventful first start for Tedric Thompson replacing Earl Thomas.
Thompson tackled Gurley at the 1-yard line in the second quarter that ended up saving the Seahawks four points when Gurley was stuffed on third-and-goal and the Rams settled for a 19-yard field goal by Santos. And he intercepted Goff’s desperation throw to end the first half. But he also whiffed on a trio of plays, including Woods on a 31-yard slant route, Kupp on his TD reception and Woods on a 56-yard fly sweep late in the third quarter.
Rams: Los Angeles is at Denver next Sunday.
Seahawks: Seattle makes the trip to London to face Oakland next Sunday.
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