Rams defense rises to occasion again in 23-13 win over Seahawks – Press Enterprise

INGLEWOOD — The defense had already carried the Rams into playoff contention this year with week after week of second-half dominance.

Sunday, it secured their place in the playoff chase and let them dream higher.

The L.A. defense contained as good an offense as it will face in the regular season and the Rams passed a big test of their postseason aspirations in a 23-16 victory over the first-place Seattle Seahawks at fan-free SoFi Stadium.

The victory by the Rams (6-3) made it a three-way tie at the top of the NFC West with Seattle (6-3) and Arizona (6-3), with the Cardinals ahead based on NFL playoff tiebreakers.

It took a field goal with 29 second left to put the Seahawks on the board in the second half.

The Rams had made it a 23-13 lead in the third quarter with an 88-yard drive, their second long one of the afternoon, with Josh Reynolds continuing a career-best day with three catches for 47 yards and Malcolm Brown going 1 yard for his second touchdown.

But something else continued, the Rams’ kicking problems. Kai Forbath yanked the extra-point attempt to the left. It was his second inexcusably bad kick in two games.

It was going to be up to the Rams defense that had been giving up an average of only 3.3 points in second halves this season.

On consecutive possessions, Seattle was stopped by a pair of Leonard Floyd sacks, Floyd’s recovery of a Russell Wilson fumble, and Darious Williams’ second interception of the day with less than eight minutes to go.

The Rams sacked Wilson six times, with linebackers Floyd (three) and rookie Terrell Lewis (two) leading the way.

First place was on the line as the Rams set out to extend their 3-0 record at their new stadium.

After a week off to regroup after their sloppy loss in Miami and get re-activated safety Jordan Fuller and defensive lineman A’Shawn Robinson ready, the Rams started the day set to reach the top of the NFC West based on the head-to-head tiebreaker if they beat Seattle and Arizona lost to Buffalo.

As it turned out, Arizona beat Buffalo 32-30.

The big questions were: Could the Rams contain Wilson, receivers DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett and the best offense they’ve faced this season? Could the Seahawks get away from Aaron Donald, Jalen Ramsey and the best defense they’ve faced this year?

Other questions for the Rams: Could Jared Goff regain his pre-Miami form against an injury-riddled Seahawks secondary? Could they avoid the game coming down to  Forbath kicks and a possible repeat of Greg Zuerlein’s late field-goal miss in the teams’ first meeting of last year?

The Rams had most of the right answers early.

Goff spread accurate passes around to all of his receivers, going 27 for 37 for 302 yards, no touchdowns but no interceptions, to outduel Wilson.

A 31-yard connection with Cooper Kupp sparked an opening drive that netted a short field goal by Forbath.

A 39-yard over-the-shoulder catch by Tyler Higbee was one of three Goff passes to tight ends for good gains on the way to Darrell Henderson’s 1-yard run for the Rams’ first touchdown.

Brown showed some of his best moves of the year on the Rams’ third straight scoring drive. Brown carried three times for 20 yards and had an 11-yard catch-and-run to convert a third down as L.A. marched from its own 7.

Seattle had gone ahead, replying to the Rams’ field goal, when third-string running back Alex Collins took a short Wilson pass and went on for a 13-yard touchdown.

The Seahawks got within a touchdown as the half ended when Jason Myers kicked a 61-yard field goal, the ball just limping over the crossbar at the north end of SoFi Stadium. Myers’ previous career long was a 58-yard field goal for Jacksonville in 2015.

Myers kicked a 38-yarder earlier in the half.

But the Rams’ defense was the first to break serve in the offensive back-and-forth, doing what it had to do by stopping Wilson passes and scrambles after Seattle took the ball past the 50 early in the second quarter.

It was after the Seahawks punted that the Rams went 93 yards and went up by 10 points.

The game was, in some ways, painful for the Rams.

Left tackle Andrew Whitworth, the 15-year veteran, was carted off late in the first half and shortly declared out of the game with a knee injury. A Seattle player fell on Whitworth’s left knee on a play that resulted in a Goff sack.

Earlier, safety Taylor Rapp went out with a knee injury. Rapp was back to a second-string role after rookie Jordan Fuller returned from a shoulder injury and started the game.

In the third quarter, Forbath went out with an ankle injury, termed questionable to return. Punter Johnny Hekker is the Rams’ backup placekicker. Hekker kicked a 20-yard field goal and a PAT in 2018.