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The Brewery

A gathering place for sports analysis and opinion with Seattle Times sports columnist Jerry Brewer.

December 12, 2011 at 10:16 PM

Instant replay: A brief sketch of the Seahawks' victory over St. Louis

Posted by Jerry Brewer

Seattle Seahawks 30, St. Louis Rams 13

Why the Seahawks won: Seattle (6-7) won with a combination of good defense, stellar special teams and a recommitment to the running game in the second half. The Seahawks held the Rams to 281 yards, and on special teams, Doug Baldwin blocked a punt that resulted in a Michael Robinson touchdown. The Seahawks had only 129 total yards -- and just 42 rushing -- at halftime, but in the second half, they gained 230 yards. Running back Marshawn Lynch had 87 of his 115 rushing yards in the second half, and the Seahawks totaled 145 yards on the ground. Baldwin finished with seven receptions for 93 yards, including a 29-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter. Quarterback Tarvaris Jackson, despite some frustrating moments in which he held onto the football too long, completed 21 of 32 passes for 224 yards.

Why the Rams lost: Quarterback Sam Bradford played despite a high left ankle sprain, but he didn't fare well. He completed only 12 of 29 passes for 193 yards. He threw one interception, to Seahawks cornerback Brandon Browner, who now has five picks this season. Besides a 37-yard pass to Brandon Lloyd and a dink to Steven Jackson that turned into a 50-yard reception, Bradford couldn't get the ball down the field against the Seahawks. Jackson, who hasn't rushed for 100 yards in a game against the Seahawks during his career, carried 20 times for only 63 yards. He had a productive first half (11 carries for 50 yards), but he gained just 13 yards on his final nine carries. Add the blocked punt and the defense's inability to stop the Seahawks in the second half, and St. Louis played like a 2-11 team.

Key play: Baldwin's blocked punt, which led to Robinson's touchdown. It was the only touchdown of the first half, and it came on a preventable play in which St. Louis let Baldwin have a clear path to the punter.

Player of the game: Baldwin. He had seven catches for 93 yards, blocked a punt that resulted in a touchdown, gained 37 yards on a reverse during the opening kickoff and downed a ball at the 6-yard line while serving as the gunner. It was a complete performance for the undrafted rookie from Stanford.

Shame of the game: The Seahawks committed nine more penalties in this game, including cornerback Richard Sherman's ridiculous taunting infraction in the fourth quarter. Sherman was whistled for taunting after successfully defending Rams receiver Danario Alexander on a third-and-goal play at the Seahawks' 1-yard line. The penalty gave the Rams a fresh set of downs, and Jackson wound up scoring a 1-yard touchdown. The Seahawks were still ahead 23-13, but Sherman, who has had a terrific rookie season, must do a better job controlling his emotions.

What this means in the big picture: The Seahawks have won four of their last five games. At 6-7, they are two games behind Atlanta and Detroit, who are both 8-5 and currently occupy the last two playoff spots in the NFC. That's a lot of ground to make up with three games to go, especially since the Seahawks lost to Atlanta earlier this season. But Seattle just needs to keep winning and hope that the rest of the wild-card hopefuls -- which also includes Chicago (7-6), Arizona (6-7) and the two teams battling for the NFC East (7-6 New York Giants and 7-6 Dallas) -- helps them sneak into the postseason. It's highly unlikely that will happen, but it's good that the young Seahawks are both improving rapidly and facing must-win pressure this late in the season.

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