The Seahawks had lost three straight games at the Rams and four of the past six meetings overall, so the fact that Seattle finally managed to steal one on the road against them is cause for major celebration.
Forget the typically poor offensive performance — the Rams always dominate the Hawks’ offense. Forget the fact that the Hawks were outgained 375 yards to 241. Forget that they rushed for under 100 yards for the fourth straight time vs. the Rams.
Instead, focus on the fact that the Hawks avoided falling two games behind the Rams in the NFC West. Focus on the five takeaways, including two each by Earl Thomas and Sheldon Richardson. Focus on the fact that Seattle kept the Rams out of the end zone in all five red-zone possessions.
The last time the Hawks forced five turnovers was in a 23-0 win over the Giants last in the 2013 Super Bowl season (they also forced five earlier that season in a 29-3 win over the 49ers). It speaks to the Rams’ improvement that they lost just 16-10 — and were knocking on the door at the end.
If not for Thomas’ early punchout as Todd Gurley dived for the pylon, the Rams would have won. Thomas credited Bruce Lee movies for his technique on that touchback fumble in the first quarter. He also intercepted a pass in the second half.
Richardson picked off a screen pass and also recovered a fumble. Asked about the defense being on the field for 19 minutes in the second half, Richardson cracked that it was nothing new to him: “I came from the Jets. I’m used to that.”
The Hawks gave up five drives covering over 50 yards, but the Rams ended up with just one touchdown. The others ended in the Thomas-caused fumble, a missed 36-yard field goal, Thomas’ interception and a final stand as the Rams tried to score from the 20. The defense also held the Rams to minus-2 yards and a field goal after Russell Wilson sprinted over 50 yards to make a TD-saving tackle on his interception.
The Seattle offense had its usual trouble blocking Aaron Donald, Robert Quinn and company — Wilson was sacked three times and the Hawks averaged a season-low 3.7 yards per play, including 2.5 per rush and 4.4 per pass. It was the fifth time in 11 games vs. the Rams that the Hawks had been under 3.0 per carry.
On the bright side, Wilson and the Hawks somehow put together their second-best third-down performance against the Rams since 2012. Third downs have been a key barometer for Seattle this season: They were 7 of 26 (26.9 percent) in their two losses and 26 of 51 (51 percent) in their three wins. After going 10 of 15 in a 46-18 win vs. the Colts, the Hawks went 8 for 17 vs. the Rams.
That helped Seattle match the Rams atop the division, with a bye looming. The Hawks then could go on a little run as they face the suddenly depleted Giants and Texans then host Washington before going to Arizona, where Seattle usually fares well.
It’s not inconceivable that the Seahawks could win all four of those and run their record to 7-2 before Atlanta comes to Seattle for a big Monday night game in Week 11.