Rams Down Seahawks in Shocking Home Opener!
It’s the game Rams’ fans have been waiting for. A week 1 Rams game the Rams show up for and look like they are actually prepared to play. Well, fans got that game today as the Rams down Seahawks in their season home opener 34-31 in overtime. Making it ever sweeter is the fact the Seattle Seahawks are division rivals and the Rams have defeated them 3 of 4 times at home since Jeff Fisher took over.
The Rams started their season opener with the defense making a statement rather quickly, the only real hiccup being a penalty. They quickly overcame that with the first of many sacks this game would see. This one coming courtesy of Aaron Donald. The Seahawks would stall and have to punt, which was fielded by Tavon Austin after calling a fair catch. Time to get a glimpse of the new Rams offense we’ve speculated about all offseason and preseason.
The initial drive had pretty much everything bad rolled up into one series. Bad snap which resulted in loss of yards which almost pinned the team on the goal line, Check! An almost Safety and penalty by standout rookie Jamon Brown, check, check! Newly acquired starting QB doing a QB sneak against one of the best defenses in the league, Check! Punt by Johnnie Hekker ran back 57 yards for a TD, and you can see what I mean.
Luckily, the second series for the Rams would be much better and finally give fans hope. The Rams started this game without their first round pick in this year’s draft – Todd Gurley. They also started this game without last season’s starter – Trey Mason. It was announced that the Rams would go with Benny Cunningham and Isaiah Pead as the RBs, with Cunningham as the starter. And, WOW, did Benny make the most of it! He didn’t finish with a ton of yards, but he made almost every touch count. He was sniffing and finding first downs all game long.
Foles would start this drive at the 20 and start his march across the field. He began by passing to TE Jared Cook, for what was the first of a nice pair of 20 yard gains. Cook and Cunningham would be the 2 key ingredients for most of this drive, but finished with Tavon Austin running it in for a TD. Some worthwhile mentionable parts from this drive: Foles was sacked and a deep pass to Tavon which could have been for a TD, but was instead broken up by Richard Sherman . Two things to note on that pass: Foles missed it by throwing short as Austin had Sherman beat and Sherman got away with a mugging when no flag was thrown.
This is the drive where the defense really started finding its groove. In what should have been a 3 and out, DE Robert Quinn was called for a personal foul for roughing the passer. It was one of a few bad calls during the game, but would end up actually helping the Rams a couple of plays later. Instead of having the Seahawks punt, which would likely have left the entire field to cover for the offense, CB Trumaine Johnson intercepted a pass by Seahawk QB Russell Wilson and took it to the Seahawks’ 26 yard line.
The Rams would once again lean on Cunningham for some hard yardage, and he’d keep moving the ball. A couple of nice gains through runs and a really nice short pass to him, which was negated by rookie RT Rob Havenstein. A quick pass to Stedman Bailey would get them back close, and after a 33 yard field goal, Rams would lead for the first time in the game, 10-7.
The Rams’ defense was starting to hit its stride now. They came away with an apparent fumble by Seattle’s Marshawn Lynch; however, he was ruled down. Rams HC Jeff Fisher challenged the call, but the failed challenge cost the Rams a time out. Trumaine Johnson made a nice defend on the ball and went down, replaced by CB Marcus Roberson. It was later announced that Johnson suffered a concussion and wouldn’t return.
For the first time in distant memory, an injury to a starter in the secondary didn’t yield a drastic and noticeable decline in game play. CB Janoris Jenkins would cause a deflected pass and had a chance to come away with the ball. CB Lamarcus Joyner sacked Wilson and forced the Seahawks to punt. The punt would eventually end up on the 25 yard line after a penalty was assessed against Seattle, for an illegal formation during the kick.
The offense would continue with Cunningham and Cook leading the way. Cunningham had a couple of short runs with basically no gain, and Cook would execute a screen, but come up short for the first down. A 3 and out resulting in a punt.
The defense would have a play where more than a couple of players missed WR Jermaine Kearse. This allowed a few more yards than he should have gained, but they followed up with Quinn sacking Wilson for his (Wilson’s) second sack of the day. The Rams would get their stop and Seattle finished the half kicking a field goal, tying the game at 10-10.
The second half started poorly when Foles would turnover the ball from a fumble, due to a miscommunication between him and C Tim Barnes. Barnes had been sharing starts with two others during training camp and the preseason and still needs some time to get settled in. This would result in the Seahawks getting close to a TD, but settling for another field goal and a 13-10 lead.
Foles would bounce back, taking the Rams 80 yards on their next drive. He added WR’s Kenny Britt and Tavon Austin to the mix during this series. Costly penalties would be an issue during the next couple of plays, but for once, they weren’t on the Rams. Britt started it off with a nice catch for a first down. Tavon Austin had a nice run from a hand off. Austin must have got caught in the defender’s shoes as he tried to shake Tavon’s head out of his cleats when he got up. This earned him a personal foul, adding another 15 yards to what Austin just picked up. A nice run by Foles which ended in an ugly slide attempt, a run by Cunningham for the first, and a pass to Cook would get the Rams close to the goal line. Seahawks stopped Cunningham cold, but Seattle was flagged again, the ball moving half the distance to the goal line. On the next play, Foles scored his first rushing TD as a Ram and gave the Rams a 17-13 Rams lead.
The long drive gave the Rams’ defense a decent rest; they came out attacking again on the Seahawks’ next drive. SS Mark Barron almost snagged Wilson for a sack, who still managed to get rid of the ball at the last minute. He wouldn’t have the same luck the next play, as DT Aaron Donald planted him for the fourth time in this game. Seattle would be forced to kick yet again, and this time it was the Rams who would have the highlight reel return for a TD.
Tavon Austin returned the kick 75 yards down the sideline, with some serious balance being displayed to stay in bounds during the kick. More flags would fly, but again, the penalty was on the Seahawks and the TD would stand, increasing the Rams’ lead to 24-13.
Both teams would see their offenses struggle for the next couple of series, with each going 3 and out. Austin did have an “interesting” punt return where ran about 50 yards like an errant pinball caught between buffers before finally getting taken down around the 11 yard line. Roberson, who came in for the injured Johnson, also had a nice batted pass during these exchanges.
Seattle started yet another drive and encountered many difficulties. Holding negated a screen pass by Wilson. This was the 7th penalty committed by the Seahawks. Wilson was then sacked for the 5th time. Joyner would get dinged up and taken out for a play. Roberson would lay a very nice open field tackle on Lynch. Wilson would then run for a first and finish the drive with a pass to TE Jimmy Graham. Seattle lined up for the 2 point conversion, which was successfully converted by Lynch. The 2 point conversion would narrow the game to a 3 point Rams lead, 24-21.
RB Isaiah Pead would take the kickoff and run into his own blocker before being taken down on the 19 yard line. A fine run by Benny Cunningham for a 41 yard gain stirred the fans into a frenzy. Then the Rams did something I was hoping not to see this year: Tavon Austin with a hand-off between the tackles. He did manage 2 yards on the play. Foles avoided an almost certain sack when the pocket collapsed with a flick to Cunningham, which resulted in another first down. Then the wheels fell off.
Cunningham was rested and Pead would be given his chance to have a big impact on the game. A big one of the wrong kind. After what appeared to be a strong, physical run, he fumbled and lost the ball. This would allow the Seahawks to march down the field. Once again the Rams defense would hold them, but couldn’t stop them from getting a game-tying field goal, tying the game at 24-24, with more pain yet to come.
Foles is sacked with a blind-side hit. He loses the ball, and the defender runs it in for a TD, giving Seattle a 31-24 lead.
With the game clock winding down, the Rams start their last drive in regulation play. A run from Cunningham starts them off, but Foles overthrows Bailey on the next play. Back to Cunningham for yet another first down, an 8 yard pass to Cook, and a pass to Austin for another first down. The Rams are breathing life again on the offensive side of the ball, but then Saffold gets called for a penalty, followed by a dropped pass by Cunningham. It was one that should have been caught, but one of the few plays he botched. The Rams have a long way to go at this point for the first down and a field goal won’t cut it. Foles unleashes a 22-yarder to Britt for a first down and the Rams keep moving the sticks. Foles then completes pass to TE Lance Kendricks which stops the clock with 1:04 on it. Foles throws to Austin near the sideline, but is a little late with the throw and a little high. He’s out of bounds and the pass is ruled incomplete. On the next play, Foles connects with a wide open Kendricks for a TD. Seattle S Dion Bailey fell down in coverage, which allowed Kendricks an easy score. Bailey, who is filling in for the Seattle hold out Kam Chancellor, caught his toe and went down. Seattle fans are no doubt wishing he would have been present and there in coverage. Rams coach Fisher decided to kick and tie the game instead of going for the win in regulation time. This surprised me, for many coaches will go for the win in this situation.
Seattle downed the kickoff and started on the 20. They had 53 seconds on the clock and started moving the ball at an uncomfortable pace for a Rams fan. The clock was now down to 24 seconds and the Seahawks were still moving down the field, when Wilson went down for the 6th time in the game via another sack. DE Eugene Sims was injured on this play. He tried to get up and make it to the sideline, but collapsed in what appeared to be agonizing pain. The replay showed him getting hit low on his lower leg, at an angle not associated with normal range of motion. It’s looking like a serious knee injury at the moment. With only 1 second left on the clock, Seattle downed the ball to end regulation time, sending the game into overtime.
The Seahawks chose tails on the ensuing coin toss; it landed heads and the Rams chose to receive first. What happened next would stop play while the referees had a chance to sort everything out.
Seattle lined up for the kick and at first glance, it appeared to be an onside kick attempt. WR Bradley Marquez signalled for a very fast fair catch and was immediately covered by numerous Seahawks. Flags fly. The initial ruling was that the ball was driven into the ground (the very definition of an onside kick) which makes calling for a fair catch not an option. Replay showed that the ball didn’t hit the ground, instead the foot going under the ball, resulting in the tee getting launched, and the ball popping into the air. It was later clarified by Seattle HC Pete Carroll that it wasn’t intended to be an onside kick at all, but a thirty yard squib. The kicker simply muffed the kick and almost missed the ball. The referees conferred and reversed the decision and ruled the fair catch was allowable, thus no penalties.
The Rams started on the 49 yard line and Foles made an absolutely beautiful pass to WR Stedman Bailey over CB Richard Sherman’s head and a closing Earl Thomas III. The window was small, but the pass was perfect. Cunningham would have another couple of runs, but the drive would stall. Place kicker Greg Zuerlein nailed a field goal to put the Rams up 34-31.
Being overtime, each team gets the chance to possess the ball at least once unless the first possession ends in a TD or a safety. Since the Rams had to settle for a field goal, Seattle would get a chance to come back.
Wilson would start with a screen to Lynch, who ran for 19 yards. A bad snap, and another pass to Lynch for another first down. Wilson passes to WR Doug Baldwin, who is tackled by Rams Safety T.J. McDonald. Another pass to Baldwin leaves the Seahawks with 3rd down and 3 to go. Wilson keeps the ball, but is stopped about a half-yard short, leaving the Seahawks with 4th and inches. They had no option but to go for it since the Rams scored and they had now had their possession. Similar to the last play of the Super Bowl, this game came down to one last play. During the Super Bowl, the Seahawks passed the ball and lost the game. They took a lot of criticism over that call. Fans and analysts alike couldn’t believe a team who had one of the best RBs in the entire NFL would pass on a goal line situation instead of trusting their featured back. Seattle chose to try the RB approach this time. It too failed to produce the desired results. Rams defenders attacked the line and held Lynch from gaining the first down. DT Michael Brockers was having none of it. With Lynch stopped, the Rams won their home opener! 34-31.
Since the arrival of Jeff Fisher in 2012, the Rams have won 3 of 4 home games against the Seattle Seahawks.