December 16, 2016 / 5:29 AM / a year ago

Seahawks clinch NFC West as Rams fall again

(The Sports Xchange) - The Los Angeles Rams may have changed head coaches, but Thursday night’s result was all too familiar.

Dec 15, 2016; Seattle, WA, USA; Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff (16) is sacked by Seattle Seahawks defensive end Cliff Avril (56) during the second quarter at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

Interim coach John Fassel was on the sideline for the first time, three days after the Rams fired previous head coach Jeff Fisher after four-plus seasons. Fassel’s team, though, couldn’t muster enough offense to challenge the Seattle Seahawks, who clinched the NFC West for the third time in four years with a 24-3 victory at CenturyLink Field.

After a quiet past few weeks, Seattle’s pass rush awakened and spent much of the night beating up on Rams rookie quarterback Jared Goff. The Seahawks (9-4-1) sacked Goff four times and held him to 13 of 25 passing for 135 yards.

Goff left the game after a big hit from Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman midway through the fourth quarter and was evaluated for a possible concussion. Case Keenum closed out the contest for the Rams (4-10).

Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, meanwhile, went 19 of 26 through the air for 229 yards and three touchdowns. His lone interception came on Seattle’s final drive, when the game was already well in hand.

Wilson put the nail in the Rams’ coffin early in the fourth quarter with a 52-yard scoring strike to wide receiver Tyler Lockett that made it a three-possession game. It was his second touchdown toss in as many drives, following a 1-yard pass to Doug Baldwin on Seattle’s previous trip.

The victory snapped a three-game Seattle streak against the Rams dating back to last season.

Referee Brad Allen spent much of the first half under the replay hood. Seattle coach Pete Carroll threw his challenge flag three times in the first 20 minutes, on each occasion to review a spot near the first-down marker. His initial two attempts were successful -- the first time giving the Seahawks a new set of downs after a Lockett reception was marked just short, the second forcing a turnover on downs after the Rams attempted a fourth-and-1.

Carroll’s third challenge, after yet another Lockett reception on third down was again marked short, was a failure. But it mattered not. Los Angeles was called for a hold on the ensuing fourth-down try, and Wilson tossed an 8-yard touchdown to tight end Luke Willson on the next play to make it 7-0.

Shortly thereafter, Seattle made it 10-0 with a 48-yard field goal by Steven Hauschka. The Seahawks took advantage of their best field position of the first half after the Rams turned the ball over with a failed fake punt in their own territory when a pass attempt by punter Johnny Hekker fell incomplete.

Los Angeles cut the deficit to 10-3 with a 36-yard field goal by Greg Zuerlein less than a minute before halftime.

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