Seahawks stun Rams with game-winning field goal, celebrate rare victory
The Seahawks snapped a six-game losing streak with their come-from-behind 23-20 win over the St. Louis Rams Sunday.
Seattle Times staff reporter
ST. LOUIS — In a different season, it was the kind of comeback that would have sparked a celebration.
On the road in December against a division opponent, Seattle made its two biggest plays on its final two possessions, scored 10 points in the final four minutes, and Olindo Mare won the game by kicking a 27-yard field goal on the final play.
But instead of celebration after Sunday's 23-20 victory in St. Louis, there was more relief. The Seahawks aren't the worst in the NFC West as they ended the franchise's longest losing streak in 14 years. Victories have been so rare in this season that coach Mike Holmgren joked about being caught off guard.
"I don't know what to say, it's been so long," Holmgren said.
He certainly wasn't at a loss for words after a first half that ended with his quarterback gasping for air and his offense wheezing its way to a not-so-grand total of 76 yards. Throw in a special-teams turnover and a defense that allowed the Rams — the league's worst offense — to drive 97 yards in 18 plays for a second-quarter touchdown and the coach had plenty of material to work with for his halftime speech.
"I challenged them a little bit at halftime," Holmgren said.
That's kind of like calling the Grand Canyon a hole.
"We deserved it," linebacker Julian Peterson said. "We needed to be talked at in that manner."
Holmgren wasn't the only one who made himself heard. Wallace spent a good chunk of the first half dodging all the heavy objects the Rams defense was throwing his way. The Rams had three sacks in the first half, but that wasn't the full extent of the pressure. Linebacker Will Witherspoon clobbered Wallace after he released the ball on a 28-yard completion to John Carlson in the first quarter. Then in the final minute of the first half, Rams tackle La'Roi Glover hit Wallace so hard that he stayed on the ground and trainers were summoned onto the field.
"He just took a gruesome hit," left tackle Sean Locklear said. "Probably the hardest hit he's ever taken. I heard it."
Then everyone heard from Wallace. The player who kept getting driven into the artificial turf called his team onto the carpet as the Seahawks left the field after the first half, trailing 17-7.
"I just wanted everybody to play harder," Wallace said. "I just wanted to make sure that we didn't come out flat and that everybody was fighting, trying to win."
The setting wasn't going to help. The paid attendance was 56,123, but the Edward Jones Dome was only two-thirds full and the crowd's booing of Rams guard Richie Incognito on any one of his four penalties was among the loudest moments of the day.
"We were a little bit sleep walking in the first half," Holmgren said. "It was kind of quiet in there. It was eerie."
The Seahawks completed only three passes in the first half, their only points came off Jordan Babineaux's 24-yard fumble return for a touchdown and Seattle didn't drive the ball beyond midfield.
"We started out real bad," wide receiver Deion Branch said. "I mean it was terrible."
Seattle brought more than just effort in the second half. The Seahawks showed a finishing touch that has been lacking in the second half of the season. Three times in the last four games, Seattle has had the ball late in the fourth quarter with a chance to win the game. All three times, the Seahawks have turned the ball over. Matt Hasselbeck threw interceptions in home losses to Arizona and Washington and last week Wallace fumbled away Seattle's final opportunity against New England.
This time, the Seahawks scored the game-tying touchdown with 2:47 remaining, the defense forced St. Louis to punt after three plays and Seattle drove for the game-winning field goal, a drive sustained by picking up the blitz they didn't block in last week's loss to the Patriots.
With 1:19 left, Seattle faced third-and-four and Holmgren called a pass play. Wallace saw the defensive alignment and changed the play at the line of scrimmage. Fullback Leonard Weaver ran for 8 yards and the first down.
On the next play, Branch ran behind Rams defensive back Jason Craft and got himself wide open for a 45-yard reception. Two plays later, Seattle kicked the game-winning field goal.
In another season, this would have been a signature victory. On Sunday, Mare exchanged congratulations with his holder Jon Ryan, Holmgren went off to find Rams coach Jim Haslett to shake hands and Seattle exhaled as its longest losing streak of the decade came to an end.
Danny O'Neil: 206-464-2364 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company
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