The stingy Seahawks defense combined with a mistake-free offense led by backup QB Charlie Whitehurst was enough on Sunday night to make history. For the first time in NFL history, a team with an under .500 record has won their division, as the Seahawks won the NFC West with a 16-6 victory over the St.Louis Rams.
The Hawks wrap up the season at 7-9, the same mark as the Rams, but they win the tiebreaker, and therefore will host the former Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints Saturday afternoon at home.
Whitehurst, playing for the injured Matt Hasselbeck, threw a 4-yard touchdown on Seattle’s first drive, and wrapped up the evening 22-for-36 for 192 yards with a TD and no picks. He had a QB rating of 84.5, enough to take home the win and the West.
Olindo Mare kicked second-half field goals of 31, 38 and 34 yards. The win of the division was the first for Seattle since 2007.
The Rams (7-9) led the Seahawks by a game entering Sunday’s contest and could have spared the NFL a sub-.500 team in the playoffs. But because Seattle holds the better division mark, the Seahawks became the first team in league history with a losing record to reach the postseason.
St. Louis was kept out of the end zone for the second time this season. Sam Bradford ends his excellent rookie season with a not-so excellent outing. He was just 19-for-36 for 155 yards with a pick and a QB rating of 52.4. The Rams offense was held to just 184 yards and 9 first downs, while the Hawks had 333 yards and 18 first downs.
Leading 7-6, the Hawks went on a drive, and Mare’s 31-yard kick stretched the margin to 10-6 late in the third quarter. After the Rams kicked a field goal to close the gap to 7-6, the Seahawks took the ensuing kickoff and drove 62 yards in 12 plays.
Mare’s leg then put the lead to 7 with a 38-yarder with 10:58 to play in the game. The Seahawks needed to move only 29 yards in seven plays following a St. Louis punt that Leon Washington returned 13 yards to the Rams 48.
The nail in the Rams coffin came with 1:41 left, a 39-yard boot from Mare. The Seahawks had used a lot of clock, moving 47 yards in 13 plays after Will Herring intercepted a pass by Bradford, who telegraphed the pass the moment he took the snap.
Whitehurst did enough to move the Seattle offense, he was 15 for 20 for 145 yards in the first half. Bradford completed 10 of 16 for 93 yards. Seattle had the edge in total yardage, 167-121 as they led 7-3 at the break.