It may have taken a few weeks longer than expected but with Sunday’s 27-9 win over the St. Louis Rams, the Seattle Seahawks secured the NFC West division championship and home field advantage through the NFC playoffs.
It’s enough to make Seahawks fans stand up and cheer.
“This is something I haven’t felt before,” said Seahawks wide receiver Golden Tate, who put the game away with a 47-yard touchdown catch in the 4th quarter. “This feels good. We worked so hard for it.”
The game against the Rams was a season-ending snapshot of everything Seattle does best. In the first quarter, linebacker Malcolm Smith picked off Rams quarterback Kellen Clemens and returned it 37 yards for a touchdown, the first of two interceptions by the defense. That brought Seattle’s final tally to 28 picks on the season, by far the most in the NFL.
Offensively, the Seahawks were limited to just 269 yards but, as has been the case for much of the season, they didn’t need sensational effort, just a solid one abetted with a few big plays. Marshawn Lynch -- who finished with 97 yards rushing, putting him over 1,500 combined yards on the season for the second-straight year -- scored in the third quarter and Steven Hauschka kicked two field goals, finishing with just two misses in 35 attempts this season.
In other words, it was another beautifully-rounded win by a team that, on paper and film, is clearly the NFC’s best. Their No. 1 seed and dominant home environment has Vegas listing them as the Super Bowl favorite heading into the playoffs, and after the win, as they have all season, players were embracing high expectations rather than ducking them.
“This doesn’t really feel like anything,” cornerback Richard Sherman, a strong candidate for Defensive Player of the Year, said of the team’s NFC West championship and No. 1 seed. “It feels like what’s supposed to happen.”
Seattle will find out what happens next after their first-round-bye week, when they’ll host either New Orleans, Green Bay, or division rival San Francisco in the divisional round. That game is slated for a 2:35 p.m. local kickoff on Saturday, Jan. 11.