LOS ANGELES — The Seattle Seahawks watched enough film to know Jared Goff and Todd Gurley have made remarkable strides under new Rams coach Sean McVay.
Earl Thomas, Sheldon Richardson and the veteran Seahawks defense wouldn’t let the upstart Rams step atop the NFC West just yet.
Thomas forced two of the Rams’ five turnovers, and Richardson picked up two more during the Seahawks’ 16-10 victory over Los Angeles on Sunday.
Russell Wilson passed for 198 yards and hit Jimmy Graham for a touchdown late in the first half for the Seahawks (3-2), who shut out the NFL’s highest-scoring offense in the second half and won despite getting outgained 375-241.
The Rams (3-2) caught the league’s attention with the highest-scoring offense in the season’s opening quarter, but the Seahawks aren’t ready to abdicate the division throne.
“I don’t know if it’s a ‘Not so fast’ moment,” Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman said. “I think people look forward to writing us off, and I think our demise was greatly overstated. … McVay has them playing lights-out, so you’ve got to give them all the credit in the world, but we don’t think about other teams when we’re going about our business.”
Thomas made enormous plays early and late. The veteran safety chopped the ball out of Gurley’s outstretched hand at the pylon to kill the Rams’ opening drive with a fumble and touchback, and he intercepted Goff’s fluttering pass at midfield with 6:02 to play.
Richardson also came through impressively, diving to snag a deflected pass for his first career interception in the third quarter before scooping up Goff’s fumble near midfield with 2:45 left.
“He’s going to be all right,” Richardson said of Goff, who went 22 of 47 for 288 yards with three costly turnovers. “He’s not the same guy from last year. But he’s no Tom Brady yet.”
The Legion of Boom did blanketing work on Sammy Watkins and the Rams’ receivers, but Seattle couldn’t rest easily until Goff’s last-minute drive ended with three straight incompletions near the end zone.
It came down to a few fingertips: Rams rookie Cooper Kupp barely missed a diving TD grab on third down with 8 seconds to play.
“I expect to make that play,” said Kupp, who had three catches for 44 yards. “I can’t say anything about whether it was behind me or a one-hand catch. If I’m putting my hands on the ball, I’ve got to make that play.”
Tavon Austin rushed for a 27-yard TD for Los Angeles, which had a strong defensive game of its own. Wilson didn’t have big numbers, but the quarterback put on a performance of vintage resourcefulness, repeatedly wriggling away from the Rams’ pursuing defense to make plays.
Blair Walsh’s two second-half field goals turned out to be the difference for Seattle, which managed just 97 yards in the second half.
A few more takeaways from Pete Carroll’s first win at the Coliseum since USC beat UCLA on Nov. 28, 2009:
RED ZONE WOES: While the Rams’ offense has been undeniably transformed by McVay, it still can’t score touchdowns consistently. One week after kicking seven field goals in Dallas, Los Angeles got just three points out of four trips to the red zone.
Gurley was averaging nearly 27 touches per game this season, but the running back got just 14 carries and two receptions against the Seahawks. Los Angeles also targeted Watkins only four times, and the speedy receiver went without a catch for just the second time in his 42 NFL games.
BIG TACKLE: Wilson made several impressive plays, but few were bigger than his hustle after a bad throw . Rams rookie John Johnson intercepted his pass in the second quarter and returned it 69 yards, but Wilson made a possible touchdown-saving tackle. Los Angeles had to settle for a field goal.
“Took me back to my high school days, when I used to have to play corner,” Wilson said.
BIG MISS: The Rams’ Greg Zuerlein was perfect on field goals this season until missing a 36-yarder in the second half. He had made 19 straight field goals dating to last December, matching the second-longest streak in team history.