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Vince Grippi: Seahawks turn a little luck into a big win over Rams

UPDATED: Sun., Oct. 8, 2017, 10:33 p.m.

Seattle Seahawks strong safety Kam Chancellor, left, breaks up a pass intended for Los Angeles Rams tight end Tyler Higbee during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 8, 2017, in Los Angeles. (Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)
Seattle Seahawks strong safety Kam Chancellor, left, breaks up a pass intended for Los Angeles Rams tight end Tyler Higbee during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 8, 2017, in Los Angeles. (Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

Some teams don’t need luck. This year’s Seahawks haven’t been one of those teams – at least through their first five games.

Other than the second half a week ago against the overmatched Indianapolis Colts, the Hawks haven’t been dominating this season.

So any luck they can fall into, or cause, will be appreciated. And might make the difference in a game.

It did Sunday in the hang-on-to-the-final-seconds 16-10 win over the Los Angeles Rams in the L.A. Coliseum.

The first lucky break came at the end of the Rams’ first drive, with Earl Thomas the guy rolling the hard eight on the play.

Todd Gurley was a half-step from scoring in his fifth consecutive game when Thomas hammered his right arm. The ball, which Gurley was reaching toward the pylon, came loose a split-second before Gurley’s foot hit out-of-bounds.

It took replay to take away a on-field-called Rams’ touchdown and give the ball to Seattle, all courtesy of a lucky bounce off the aforementioned pylon.

Yes, Thomas made an exceptional play. But the ball could just have easily missed the big orange rectangle and landed out-of-bounds, keeping the Rams’ drive alive.

And it was another lucky bounce with less than 3 minutes left. Frank Clark supplied the turnover, sacking Jared Goff at the Rams’ 35, and forcing a fumble. But the luck came into play when the ball bounced into Sheldon Richardson’s arms and the big defensive tackle rumbled down to the 20. It led to the Seahawks final field goal, three points that proved to be crucial.

There was more luck earlier, including the Rams’ Greg Zuerlein missing a 36-yard, third-quarter field goal attempt, pushing the chip shot wide right. It was his first miss of the season, his first in 20 attempts and kept the game tied at 10.

And Richardson took advantage of another lucky bounce, this one coming off Gurley’s hand on a third-down screen pass late in the third quarter deep in Seattle territory. The tip happened to end up in Richardson’s hands and killed another promising L.A. opportunity.

The Hawks experienced some bad luck as well, with one muffed punt bouncing right back to Tavon Austin – Seattle recovered Austin’s second one – or a poor offensive pass interference call on Tanner McEvoy at the end of the third quarter, costing the Hawks a first down.

Goff struggles

Is Goff the quarterback he was the first four games of the season – he completed two-thirds of his passes for more than 1,000 yards and seven touchdowns – or the quarterback he was against the Hawks?

The answer is important. Because the one who was 22 of 47 passing – with two interceptions – in the most important game of his short career wasn’t very good.

Goff wasn’t under pressure much – the Hawks came into the game fourth worst in the NFL pressuring the quarterback – but he still threw at least a half-dozen passes that floated out of his hand.

The Hawks’ decent defensive statistics against a Rams team that has averaged 35.5 points a game coming in is even more impressive considering Goff had as much time as he needed. The first sack came with about a minute left in the third quarter when Goff actually stumbled and fell.

There wasn’t much in the way of pressure until near the end, until Jarran Reed pushed his way back into Goff and caused another fluttering pass that Thomas picked.

Clark followed that up with the strip sack.

The Hawks may not have been able to pressure Goff due to a seeming emphasis on stopping Gurley, the league’s second-leading rusher coming in.

Gurley carried just 14 times for 43 yards.

Kupp misses opportunity

Cooper Kupp almost made the game-winning catch on a seam route with 8 seconds left. But the diving attempt went off his fingertips, leaving the Rams just one final chance.

Goff came back to the rookie wide receiver from Eastern Washington on fourth down. This time, instead of leaving Justin Coleman alone with Kupp, Kam Chancellor rolled over to help.

Goff’s pass floated a bit and came up short.

Kupp finished with three catches for 44 yards.


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