On a day when they were the los angeles rams — a team that simply couldn’t capitalize — they were still able to tighten their grip on the NFC West.
Three games up in the division just five weeks into the season?
Yes, the Rams will take that.
They’re delighted with their 33-31 victory over the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, even though they left all sorts of points littered across the turf at CenturyLink Field thanks to wild deflections, forehead-slapping penalties, an apparent touchdown taken off the board, a botched extra point and a couple of star receivers seeing stars.
The Rams needed this. They needed to win a game with the winds of fortune howling in their face, not gusting at their back. They needed to overcome adversity — and some debatable calls — in the nastiest environment the NFL has to offer.
“You have every excuse in the world to lose this game,” Rams tackle Andrew Whitworth said. “But this team is different.”
It was grit and gambling that made the difference Sunday, with Jared Goff plunging forward for a two-yard gain on fourth-and-one with 1:39 on the clock and 68,000 Seahawks fans on their feet and screaming like a sea of Eddie Vedders.
The Rams could have punted and put their fate in the hands of their defense, but instead they danced with who brought them. This is an offensive team. The defense is a work in progress. So even with concussed receivers Brandin Cooks and Cooper Kupp out, coach Sean McVay entrusted Goff & Company to secure the win.
“You need to know when these games come around that, can you finish?” said running back Todd Gurley, who had his second three-touchdown game of the season. “That’s what we did today. Tough environment. Doesn’t matter which team it is. You’ve just got to be able to close out those close games.”
There were some emotional setbacks. Goff was intercepted at the goal line. Later, an apparent touchdown by Gurley was overturned when the replay indicated he came up just short; the Rams eventually settled for a field goal. In the third quarter, a 30-yard touchdown pass from Seattle’s Russell Wilson to David Moore withstood replay scrutiny, even though it appeared the receiver stepped out of the back of the end zone before making the catch.
Then, there was the helmet-to-helmet hit on Cooks by Seahawks safety Tedric Thompson, a collision which looked to have knocked the Rams receiver unconscious. The play wasn’t flagged, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if the league were to fine Thompson for it.
“When you’ve got two teams that are very competitive like us, we don’t like losing,” Seattle defensive end Frank Clark said. “I don’t like losing. I’m sure none of my boys like losing. [The Rams] don’t like losing, and they came in here and did the job.”
Along the way, the Rams joined an exclusive club. They are the fifth team to score at least 30 points in each of their first five games to start a season. They joined the 2013 Denver Broncos (eight consecutive games), 2011 New England Patriots (five), 2007 Patriots (eight), and the “Greatest Show on Turf” 2000 St. Louis Rams (eight). The Broncos and both of those Patriots teams advanced to the Super Bowl.
It’s premature to talk Super Bowl for these Rams. So much can happen during the final three quarters of the regular season. But the math is getting pretty interesting.
Even if this team were to go 5-6 the rest of the way — something that would have McVay reaching for an oxygen mask — the Rams would still be a headache for the rest of the teams in the division. The second-place Seahawks, currently 2-3, would have to go 8-3 to merely match that record, not to mention any tiebreakers the Rams might have at that point.
As for San Francisco and Arizona, both 1-4, they are currently specks in the rearview mirror.
The Rams are 10-1 on the road under McVay, counting last year’s “home” game in London, and they’ll need to continue to prove they can overcome adversity to win. But they passed that test Sunday in a place where visiting teams have precious little latitude to make mistakes.