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Monday, October 16, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Wild, wild West win

Seattle Times staff reporter

Not half bad


It wasn't just the final two minutes that went back and forth. Sunday's entire game flip-flopped around the intermission:

First half

Scoring

Rams 21-7

Yards

Rams 225-74

First downs

Rams 15-5

Second half

Scoring

Hawks 23-7

Yards

Hawks 290-143

First downs

Hawks 15-6

ST. LOUIS — They were on their way to a crushing defeat. Then they were headed for a comeback win. Then they were staring defeat in the eyes once again.

And just when all seemed lost in the most important regular-season game to date for the Seahawks — a rivalry game, no less — kicker Josh Brown came to the rescue.

Brown's 54-yard field goal sailed between the goalposts with no time remaining, and the Seahawks left the Edward Jones Dome on Sunday with a 30-28 victory over the St. Louis Rams and sole possession of first place in the NFC West.

"No problem at all," Brown said. "I just make sure I do what I can control. I told Matt [Hasselbeck] the 36-, 37-[yard line] would be OK. A 54-, 55-yarder and we should be just fine in here, and he said 'OK, be ready.' "

It hardly seemed like the Seahawks would be close to a victory at the end. Down 21-7 at halftime, they didn't look like a team with a comeback in them.

Lethargic. A step too slow. Sloppy. Confused.

That described the Seahawks' performance in the first half.

The pass defense was burned time and again. The quarterback protection wasn't consistent. The Seahawks couldn't establish a running game, Rams quarterback Marc Bulger had forever to throw, and Seattle couldn't get three-and-outs on defense.

In the locker room during halftime, Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren had some choice words.

"I unloaded on them," Holmgren said.

"Those words aren't allowed on television," defensive end Bryce Fisher said. "We'll just keep it PG and say you have to do better."

The Seahawks did just that. The calls — a couple of pass-interference penalties that had Rams fans in an uproar — went the Seahawks' way. Hasselbeck's two touchdown passes were pinpoint. The defensive and offensive lines took over, pounding Bulger with three more sacks for six overall and giving Hasselbeck the time he needed to make plays.

The running game picked up. The defense got tougher, at least until the final two minutes. The Seahawks forced a turnover on special teams that led to a touchdown, and the offense punted just once in the second half.

The confidence was palpable.

"Sometimes it takes somebody to step up and make a play that will spark everything, and it's a domino effect," tight end Itula Mili said. "A play here and a play there and before you know it, guys just start clicking."

Kickin' it

Josh Brown's 54-yard field goal on the final play was his fourth game-winning field goal in less than one calendar year. Here's a look at those kicks, by yardage:

54

Oct. 15, 2006

Seattle 30, Rams 28

42

Sept. 10, 2006

Seattle 9, Detroit 6

36

Nov. 27, 2005

Seattle 24, N.Y. Giants 21 (OT)

50

Oct. 23, 2005

Seattle 13, Dallas 10

By the time Lofa Tatupu intercepted a Bulger pass and returned it 19 yards to the St. Louis 17 with 3:09 left, the Seahawks had rallied from their halftime deficit to a 27-21 lead on touchdown passes to Darrell Jackson and Deion Branch and two 49-yard Brown field goals.

Seattle was in perfect position to score. Even a field goal would have assured a win.

Then, disaster.

Running back Maurice Morris fumbled inside the 5-yard line, and the Rams' Jimmy Kennedy recovered. The Rams had the ball with 2:48 to play — too much time, given the nature of the teams' previous games.

Bulger was sacked by Julian Peterson, one of two for the Seahawks linebacker. But the Rams had the ball at their 33 with 1:54 to play, facing second-and-15 after a penalty.

Bulger dropped back, fired long and connected with Torry Holt, who tipped the ball away from safety Michael Boulware and gathered it in on the run.

Holt, who surpassed 10,000 career receiving yards on the play, outran Tatupu and bounded into the end zone for a 67-yard touchdown.

"I thought I was about to catch it until he did," Boulware said of Holt. "I was just praying that Lofa was going to help me out, but he was too far away."

The extra point gave the Rams a 28-27 lead, and Seattle took over with 1:38 to play and no timeouts.

Hasselbeck went to work. Completions to D.J. Hackett, Jackson and Branch. A couple of Mack Strong runs to get the ball to the Rams 31 with four seconds to play.

"Whoever had the ball last was going to win," Hasselbeck said.

Here's where things got a little crazy.

The Seahawks lined up for Hasselbeck to spike the ball, stop the clock, and get Brown on the field for a kick. But officials waved off the play with a penalty against the Seahawks for illegal formation. The Rams argued the penalty called for a 10-second runoff, which would have ended the game. But referee Ed Hochuli explained there is no such runoff for illegal formation.

That gave Brown a shot, and he became a hero once again.

"They showed a lot of guts," Holmgren said of his players. "We can build on a win like this down the stretch."

José Miguel Romero: 206-464-2409 or jromero@seattletimes.com

Finally up and running
Seattle had 4 yards rushing at halftime of Sunday's game as the Seahawks running game was more like a crawl in Shaun Alexander's absence. But Seattle put an emphasis on the run in the second half.
vs. Rams Rush Yds Avg
First half 5 4 0.8
Second half 23 121 5.3

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

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