Seahawks fleece Rams, earn NFC's top seed

At halftime, the Seahawks held a 245 to 60 edge in total yards but were losing in the two most critical statistics - the score, of course, and turnover margin. By evening the 0-2 halftime takeaway deficit with big plays from defenders Jordan Hill, Bruce Irvin, the Seahawks survived to win the NFC West and capture the conference's No. 1 seed.

10 Takeaways of the Seahawks 20-6 victory over St. Louis

10. Hill on Hill thievery was the play of the game. Defensive tackle Jordan Hill's improbable interception of a throw-away from Rams' quarterback Shaun Hill turned the tide in Seattle's favor in this hard-fought 20-7 win. The Rams appeared to be in position to consider a field goal after the Seahawks had tied the game at 6-6, steadily marching down the field for a 10-play drive to the Seahawks' 34-yard line. Instead, when the Seahawks recognized a designed screen to running back Tre Mason, the Rams quarterback elected to throw the ball towards the feet of his receiver. The Seahawks' defensive tackle bobbled but clearly caught the pass for his first career interception. Unfortunately, Hill went down late with a leg injury. FOX's cameras caught him walking around with ice on his knee.

9. If Hill's interception (which led to Marshawn Lynch's go-ahead touchdown) was the biggest play of the game, Bruce Irvin's pluck and stroll for a defensive score was a close second. Irvin deserves credit for grabbing the ball off the back of St. Louis' Lance Kendricks, but it was first-time Pro Bowl middle linebacker Bobby Wagner who created the turnover by punching the ball out.

8. Not to be out-done, the ultra-competitive Earl Thomas made an All-Pro caliber play to snuff out St. Louis' chances at getting back into the game. After the Rams had again marched down the field following Irvin's score, Hill appeared to have Benny Cunningham in the left flat for an easy score. Cunningham reached the ball out to try to break the goal-line and Thomas slapped it out of his hands, resulting in a touchback and Seattle's ball.

7. For as impressive as Seattle's opportunistic defense was in the fourth quarter, it was the Rams' defense that dominated the first half of this contest. As forecasted in the Three Key Matchups previewing this game, St. Louis' defensive line gave Seattle fits. Aaron Donald got under the pads of James Carpenter and simply bull rushed him to apply an early big hit on Russell Wilson. Donald knifed past J.R. Sweezy and starting center Patrick Lewis later. Lewis also struggled with the long arms and power of Michael Brockers. Robert Quinn has been mostly contained by Russell Okung but he, too, has hit Wilson. Worse, the hits Wilson took against the Rams were true collisions with the defenders often twisting or pushing their elbows into the quarterback rather than slap down taps he often gets when rushing downfield on scrambles.

6. While rushing four, the Rams' defensive ends (predominately Quinn and Chris Long) did a nice job of keeping contain on Wilson.By pinning him inside, rather than allowing him to flank them down the sideline, the Rams are keeping Wilson from beating him with his legs. With seven players dropping back into coverage and one of his most trusted receivers (Kearse) out, there simply aren't many open targets for Wilson to throw to either, thus the resigned heaves out of bounds after scrambling and the overthrow to Paul Richardson that was intercepted in the first quarter.

5. Part of Seattle's issues in pass protection lies with the loss of three starters, as Pro Bowl center Max Unger, wideout Jermaine Kearse and tight end Cooper Helfet were each among the Seahawks inactives for this game. The Rams suffered a huge (literally and figuratively) loss when left tackle Greg Robinson went down in the second quarter with a toe injury. The No. 2 overall pick in last May's draft, Robinson is a 6-5, 335 pounder whose girth, power and agility make him a terrific run blocker. The Rams adjusted by sliding left guard Rodger Saffold outside. Shortly after, Michael Bennett showed off his terrific burst to knife past Saffold for a tackle for loss of Tre Mason.

4. A good early point from Charles Davis on FOX's telecast. The Legion of Boom is often cited as best the NFL's most physical or best coverage unit. They may, in fact, be each of these. The real beauty of Seattle's secondary, however, is their tackling ability. Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor and Bryon Maxwell each allow an occasional catch. None of them have often allowed many yards after the catch this season.

3. Unique examples to show Seattle's commitment to tackling was also pointed by Davis on St. Louis' second drive of the game. Davis pointed out how Earl Thomas closed to take the outside away from Rams' running back Tre Mason, allowing K.J. Wright to close in for the tackle. On the next play, it was Wright buzzing to the outside to keep contain on speedy Tavon Austin. Bottled up, he was knocked down by Kam Chancellor. Neither Thomas nor Wright will get any statistical credit for these plays but they illustrate Seattle's commitment towards team defense and trust of others making the actual tackle.

2. Paul Richardson's 32-yard catch to extend Seattle's first drive of the second half was the initial spark for the Seahawks. Matched up with one of the NFL's more talented cover corners Janoris Jenkins, the rookie showed terrific extension and hand-eye coordination to pluck a slightly overthrown pass from Wilson. With "just" 271 yards this season, Richardson hasn't been nearly as productive as some of the other receivers drafted ahead of him but it is encouraging that he's played his best football as the season has gone on. He led the team with five receptions for 60 yards today. After snatching a deep post for a 13-yard gain on 3rd and 2 early in the third, Richardson got up with a little strut.

1. Ultimately, the Seahawks won the game, the division, and home field advantage on the same principles they always have - steady running (regardless of who is in at running back) and aggressive, opportunistic defense. Injuries to Jeron Johnson and Hill are concerns moving forward but tonight the Seahawks can celebrate knowing that the path to the Super Bowl XLIX runs through Seattle. Top Stories