December 18, 2017 / 2:55 AM / 6 months ago

Gurley, Rams run over Seahawks

SEATTLE — The Los Angeles Rams are on the verge of their first division title in 14 years after routing the Seattle Seahawks, but they deflected talk of a changing of the guard atop the NFC West.

Todd Gurley ran for three touchdowns and caught a scoring pass as the Rams dominated from start to finish and gained control of the division with a 42-7 dismantling of the Seahawks on Sunday.

“I don’t think so. We have a lot of respect for Seattle,” Rams coach Sean McVay said when asked about a transfer of power. “I think it was a great job by our players coming in in a tough atmosphere and getting it done today. We know what Seattle’s done. The reason you talk about them the way you do is because they’ve consistently performed well year in and year out over a handful of years.”

The Rams (10-4) avenged a 16-10 loss to the Seahawks and opened a two-game lead over Seattle (8-6) with two games left, putting them on the brink of their first division title since 2003 when the franchise was in St. Louis.

Gurley followed two 1-yard touchdown runs with a 57-yarder with 28 seconds left in the first half that put the Rams up 34-0. Gurley added a 14-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter that made it 40-0.

“This is the only game you’ve ever seen us play like this,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “I can’t remember back to year one or something like that. Our expectations were that we were going to be right in the middle of this thing.”

Gurley carried 21 times for 152 yards, and Jared Goff completed 14 of 21 passes for 120 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Los Angeles outgained Seattle 352-149 yards and held the Seahawks to 78 yards on the ground.

“In my eyes, and I might be a little bit biased, but I think he’s the best running back in the league, the most complete back,” Goff said of Gurley. “He can do it out of the backfield, he can do it in the pass-protection game, and obviously the way he runs is special.”

Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson completed 14 of 30 passes for 142 yards and one touchdown, and he led the Seahawks with 39 rushing yards. However, he was sacked seven times.

The Rams scored on six of their seven possessions in the decisive first half and did not have to punt. The only time they failed to score was when Goff was intercepted on a fourth-and-1 pass from the Seattle 24-yard line early in the second quarter.

Seattle was held to 59 yards and four first downs in the first half when Wilson was sacked four times for 47 yards. The Rams began five first-half drives in Seattle territory, including one at the 1-yard line and another at the 50.

The Seahawks scored on Wilson’s 26-yard pass to Luke Willson with 1:23 left in the third quarter. The Rams added a safety in the fourth quarter when Wilson was called for intentional grounding in the end zone.

“They beat us pretty good today,” Wilson said. “They scored in every fashion you could imagine. ... The reality of the situation is no matter if we had lost by one or lost by the way we lost, it’s still a loss.”

Los Angeles took advantage of a turnover, a long punt return and Seattle’s offensive ineffectiveness to build a 13-0 lead after three possessions.

The Rams capitalized on a Seahawks fumble for a quick 3-0 lead. On Seattle’s third offensive play, linebacker Alec Ogletree recovered Tanner McEvoy’s fumble after a 19-yard pass completion at the Seahawks 40-yard line.

Los Angeles moved to the Seattle 18 before settling for Greg Zuerlein’s 36-yard field goal.

Seattle was forced to punt following a third-down sack on its next possession and the Rams responded with a seven-play, 37-yard drive, extending the lead to 6-0 on Zuerlein’s 31-yard field goal.

The Seahawks started their next possession from their 20 after a holding penalty, then had an apparent 23-yard pass to Jimmy Graham ruled incomplete after review, followed by another sack of Wilson.

Pharoh Cooper returned the punt 53 yards before being tripped up from behind at the 1-yard line by Neiko Thorpe. Gurley crashed over on the next play to make it 13-0 with 5:57 left in the first quarter.

Cooper set up the Rams’ next touchdown with a 26-yard punt return to the Seattle 36. Gurley capped the five-play drive with another 1-yard touchdown run to push the lead to 20-0 with 8:13 left in the half.

On the ensuing possession, Wilson fumbled on a 13-yard sack and defensive end Morgan Fox recovered at the Seattle 39. The Rams needed just seven plays to make it 27-0 with Goff hitting wide receiver Robert Woods on a 1-yard touchdown pass.

Cooper returned Seattle’s final punt of the half 26 yards to set up Gurley’s 57-yard touchdown run.

The Rams play at Tennessee next week, then finish at home against San Francisco. Seattle, which has made the playoffs five straight seasons, dropped into a wild-card scramble with at least four other teams. The Seahawks play at Dallas next week before playing host to Arizona.

“We’re going to start talking about Dallas tomorrow, and we have a big game coming up and we have to go ahead and finish this thing,” Carroll said. “There’s all kinds of opportunities for us. We just have to make sure we don’t let what happened affect what’s coming up.”

NOTES: Among Seattle’s inactives was LB K.J. Wright, the team’s second-leading tackler, who sustained a concussion last week against Jacksonville. He had started 61 consecutive games. ... Seattle made two roster moves on Saturday, finally putting injured S Kam Chancellor (neck) on injured reserve and waiving G Mark Glowinski, who started the first two games this season. LB Kache Palacio and CB Mike Tyson were added to the roster off the practice squad. ... The Rams avoided their first season sweep against the Seahawks since 2013. ... The 34-0 halftime deficit was Seattle’s largest at home since Nov. 7, 2010, when the New York Giants built a 35-0 halftime lead en route to a 41-7 victory. ... Los Angeles’ Pharoh Cooper had four punt returns for 109 yards in the first half, seven for 128 yards in the game. ... Seattle rookie SS Delano Hill was penalized for unnecessary roughness on a punt return scuffle and ejected early in the third quarter. ... The Rams, who were in Los Angeles from 1946 to 1994, then moved to St. Louis in 1995 before returning to Southern California in 2016, last made the playoffs as an L.A. franchise in 1989.

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