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It wasn’t pretty but Rams win home opener, 9-3, over Seahawks

Rams wide receiver Tavon Austin tries to get around Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman in the second quarter.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Hollywood-style entertainment abounded Sunday at the Coliseum.

The Red Hot Chili Peppers rocked the crowd before kickoff. Singer CeeLo Green delivered an inspired national anthem. And television host James Corden danced with cheerleaders, presumably before taking off to attend the Emmy Awards up the street.

Award-winning plays by the Rams, however, were mostly in short supply in the first regular-season NFL game in Southern California in more than two decades.

Middle linebacker Alec Ogletree changed all of that with less than a minute left when he knocked the ball from a receiver’s grasp, causing and recovering a fumble that preserved the Rams’ 9-3 victory over the Seattle Seahawks.

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It was a fitting end to a game that helped the Rams put behind their embarrassing season-opening defeat by the San Francisco 49ers, and ruined Pete Carroll’s return to the Coliseum.

“I think we did a really nice job of coming home and winning,” said Ogletree, who had nine tackles. “It was an amazing historical moment to be here and I am glad we were able to come out with the win.”

What it lacked in style — all of the Rams’ points came on Greg Zuerlein field goals — it made up for in substance, at least for a Rams team that was shut out 28-0 last week.

They have yet to score a touchdown, but the Rams are 1-1, which is good enough for a tie for first in the NFC West heading into next week’s game at Tampa Bay.

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“There are some realities to where we are right now,” Coach Jeff Fisher said, adding, “We need to score some touchdowns, so we’ll keep working on that.”

The Rams already are doing more than enough to beat the Seahawks.

Sunday’s victory was their third in a row, and fourth in the last five games, against a team that appeared in the Super Bowl twice in the last three seasons.

“They did a nice job again,” Carroll said. “I have to give them credit.”

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A Rams defense that could not contain Blaine Gabbert mostly neutralized Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, who was playing on an ankle injured during last week’s come-from-behind victory over Miami.

Wilson threatened with less than two minutes left, but the Rams won a home game at the Coliseum for the first time since 1979.

“Against the 49ers, we played horrible, especially on defense,” defensive end Robert Quinn said. “We used that, because we knew we were a lot better team than we displayed in the first game.”

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The offense still has a ways to go.

Quarterback Case Keenum had said that he was overthinking and “seeing ghosts” during a poor performance against the 49ers. On Sunday, with the Rams still struggling to spring running back Todd Gurley, Keenum played turnover-free.

He completed 18 of 30 passes for 239 yards, connecting with receiver Kenny Britt for several big gains after play-action fakes.

However, the Rams managed only the three field goals and are the only NFL team that has yet to score a touchdown. Keenum acknowledged that “it wasn’t pretty.

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“Obviously, I like touchdowns,” he said, “But I love winning.”

Victory was not assured until Ogletree stepped up.

Zuerlein’s third field goal gave the Rams a six-point lead early in the fourth quarter. And the offense worked the clock for much of the latter part of the final period.

The Seahawks got the ball back with 1:53 remaining, giving Wilson a chance to pull out a last-minute victory for the second consecutive week.

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“We knew it wasn’t over,” Rams cornerback Trumaine Johnson said, “because that’s what he always does.”

On cue, Wilson put the Seahawks in position to win when he lofted a 53-yard pass to Tyler Lockett, moving Seattle to the Rams’ 35-yard line.

Three plays later, Wilson connected with Christine Michael. But Ogletree and linebacker Mark Barron closed in and hit the running back.

“We were playing some kind of man coverage — I was kind of roaming the field,” Ogletree said. “I dropped like 30 yards deep, which I don’t even think I was supposed to do.

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“I saw [Wilson] check it down and I just ran down there.”

Ogletree knocked the ball loose, and one thought ran through his mind.

“Get on the ball as fast as possible and hold on tight,” he said, “because everybody is going to come on the pile and try to get the ball away from me.”

Ogletree held on, and so did the Rams.

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Now it’s on to Tampa Bay.

The Rams can rely on defense, but they must find a way to get into the end zone.

“We’ve got to keep working on it,” Fisher said, “some way, somehow, whether it’s special teams or defense, but I’ll take a touchdown next week.

“That would be cool.”

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And entertaining.

gary.klein@latimes.com

Twitter: @LATimesklein


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