The Seahawks delivered a statement Thursday night, all right, just as they intended.
But it was one that morphed from a scream of triumph into a wince of agony, and back to a euphoric release of unbridled joy, all in a final 10 minutes of play that evoked every emotion in the human spectrum.
In the end, the Seahawks prevailed, 30-29, when Greg Zuerlein’s potential winning field goal from 44 yards for the Rams soared harmlessly to the right of the goal posts in the final seconds. Otherwise, the Seahawks would be nursing another agonizing loss, Pete Carroll would be answering some sharp second-guessing and they’d all be trying to figure out where it went wrong on a night that their late former owner, Paul Allen, joined the Ring of Honor.
“Paul might have given a little (whooshing noise) on that last kick,” Carroll said, mimicking someone blowing the ball off track.
Such are the vagaries of a game — a classic, really — that swung on a dozen small moments: Calls overturned, balls tipped and bobbled and miraculously corralled.
So look at that margin of victory, and understand this: It was even closer than the score would indicate. This was a game of wild swings of fortune, of mutual heroics, of crazy bounces and two quarterbacks determined to be their team’s savior.
“This has been awhile since we had this game and got this win over these guys (the Rams),” Carroll said. “Those guys have been going great. I like the way we played the game. We played tough and tried to get after it on both sides of the ball. A lot of things we hoped would happen up front, did.”
It was Russell Wilson, playing what Carroll declared was his finest game in memory, who delivered the last miracle, a 5-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Chris Carson on fourth-and-goal with 2:28 left that put the Seahawks ahead to stay. It was the last of five lead changes in the game.
But here’s what kind of game it was: Carson didn’t just make a routine catch. Of course not. As background, he had his second straight brilliant game, putting the memories of his fumble-itis in the past with 118 sure-handed rushing yards on 27 carries. But this ball clanked off Carson’s hands and into the air as the sellout crowd, in a frenzy all night, let off a collective groan. Only it didn’t fall to the ground. Carson snatched it out of the air for a touchdown that made the score 30-29 — where it stayed when the Seahawks didn’t convert the two-point conversion.
“Chris played another beautiful football game, so tough and physical,” Carroll said. “He made everyone’s heart drop on the touchdown pass but came through. It was a beautiful game to get us in the mode and style we wanted to play with.”
And thus had the Seahawks reasserted their place in the hierarchy of the NFC West, a division that had been owned by the Rams since they came to CenturyLink Field in 2017 and delivered a 42-7 humiliation that announced their arrival as the division power.
They solidified that distinction last year with two narrow victories by a combined seven points, en route to a Super Bowl appearance. If the Seahawks had prevailed in those games — and they had a chance in the fourth quarter of each — they would have won the division.
But they didn’t, and so they came into Thursday’s game hungry for a victory that would reroute the division. It’s not theirs for perpetuity, necessarily. They still must play the Rams in Los Angeles, and don’t forget that the 49ers are still undefeated.
But this game showed — in prime time, typically, where the Seahawks have done their finest work — what heights they can reach. This was Wilson at his finest, running the offense with precision, with flair, with invention and with utter command.
In a season that has thrust him into the MVP discussion, he made his case to a national television audience with a near-perfect performance. He completed 17 of 23 passes for 268 yards and those four touchdowns passes, with a passer rating of 151.8 (surpassing Goff’s 83.3 despite the 395 yards he racked up). Wilson also rushed eight times for 32 rugged yards, a feat that seemed to wow Carroll just as much as his throws.
“Russ stole the show tonight,” Carroll said. “He played one of the best games I’ve ever seen him play. He came up with some magic. All those plays he came up with his legs.”
And it was accented by a play for the ages. Wilson’s 13-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Lockett late in the first quarter was one that had to be seen to be believed — and on first glance it looked like Wilson was throwing the ball away. Flushed out of the pocket by a heavy Rams’ rush, he raced to his left and flung the ball to the corner of the end zone — where Lockett materialized out of nowhere to snare the ball. Then, with the dexterity of a tightrope walker, Lockett kept both his feet inbounds as he fell forward with a stiff body.
“People are raving that was one of the best catches they’ve ever seen,” Carroll said. “But it was also one of the best throws. There was no margin for error.”
That goes for the final frantic minutes as well. After Carson’s juggling catch, about two minutes remained — and you could write an opera about what transpired in those 120 or so seconds.
There was a diving interception by Tedric Thompson, somehow keeping his hands under a pass off the fingertips of Gerald Everett as the Seahawks got the favorable ruling on their appeal, after it was initially ruled an incompletion. And there was one last nerve-racking drive by the Rams, trying to steal the win and appearing poised to do so until Zuerlein’s field goal missed.
And then jubilation reigned on the field as the Seahawks celebrated a win that they ranked almost on a par with their most famous triumphs, short of the Super Bowl. Three of their four wins this year have come by a total of four points — but that lone point in their favor on Thursday reverberated with significance.
That was a statement delivered, all right. Even if it took all night for the Seahawks to clear their throats and let it loose.