By R.B. Fallstrom
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
ST. LOUIS _ At least, the Seattle Seahawks have 15 weeks to recover from this play call that failed to pan out.
The opener carried much greater meaning for the St. Louis Rams, who persevered after blowing the lead for a 34-31 overtime victory on Sunday. The Rams haven’t had a winning season since 2003.
“Overcoming this type of adversity is big for us because it shows that we’ve matured as a team over time,” said tight end Lance Kendricks, whose 37-yard touchdown catch tied it in the final minute of regulation. “A couple of years ago, I don’t know if we would have won this game.”
The Seahawks needed 1 yard from Marshawn Lynch to keep their drive going in overtime. It fizzled out at the St. Louis 43, about 10 yards shy of field-goal range, when Aaron Donald and Michael Brockers threw Lynch for a yard loss.
The play prompted comparisons to the Super Bowl, when the Seahawks needed a yard to beat the Patriots and instead of giving the ball to Lynch, Russell Wilson was intercepted.
“When we had a chance to finish the game, we didn’t finish it,” coach Pete Carroll said. “Tough day for us. We will regroup and get going.”
Observations from Seahawks-Rams:
Defence RULES: The Rams have five first-round picks up front, and that investment paid off when two of them collaborated on the game-ending stop. Carroll said the play had been getting 2 or 3 yards “all day long.”
The Rams sacked Russell Wilson six times, with Donald and Robert Quinn getting two each.
Donald was credited with nine tackles, three for loss, and three quarterback hits.
“If you put one guy on him,” Quinn said, “you’re asking for trouble.”
St. Louis started like it finished last year, when it totalled 40 sacks the last 11 games after none the first five. That play compensated for three lost fumbles on offence.
“Our younger players are showing now what they can do,” coach Jeff Fisher said. “But we can’t play with those kind of mistakes and win consistently.”
BIG PLAYS: Tavon Austin was untouched on a 16-yard scoring run and the Seahawks got maybe a finger or two on him on a 75-yard punt return for score.
Seahawks rookie Tyler Lockett was untouched on a 57-yard punt return for TD.
BIG MISS: Seahawks safety Dion Bailey, the replacement starter for star holdout Kam Chancellor, was the goat in his NFL debut after stumbling and falling on Kendricks’ tying TD catch with 53 seconds to go.
“It was a matchup I took,” Foles said. “Lance gave a little move and ran right by him.”
Once losing his balance, Bailey said he should have simply tackled Kendricks without the ball.
Carroll didn’t want to discuss Chancellor’s absence, saying “That is not where my focus is now.”
SPECIAL TEAMS GAFFES: Carroll said the onside kick to start overtime was supposed to have gone much farther downfield. If executed it would have been quite the bold move, given that it would have eliminated a Rams possession and given the Seahawks a chance to decide matters right away.
Bradley Marquez was penalized for an illegal fair catch on Steven Hauschka’s popped-up attempt, but officials conferred and ruled that since the ball was kicked directly in the air, Marquez was free to raise his hand.
The Rams also had a head start setting up Greg Zuelein’s 37-yard field goal.
SURVIVING THE STORM: Seattle scored 18 unanswered points in the fourth quarter, capped by Cary Williams’ strip-and-score of Nick Foles with 4:39 left. The Rams answered by driving 84 yards on 12 plays for the tying score.
“If there’s time on the clock, the game’s never over no matter what the score is,” Foles said. “We just finished.”
EMPTY SEATS: The Rams announced 51,792 tickets had been distributed but the 66,000-seat capacity Edward Jones Dome looked to be a little more than half-filled. Nevertheless, it was a marked improvement over the preseason when the stadium was at perhaps one-fourth capacity.