The Rams entered Sunday with the best offense in the NFL, scoring a league-leading 142 points through four weeks. With running back Todd Gurley approaching MVP-caliber form and second-year quarterback Jared Goff seemingly living up to his potential, rookie head coach Sean McVay had cleansed the stench of the Jeff Fisher era. With Seattle coming to Los Angeles, the Rams had a chance to claim supremacy in the NFC West.
It didn’t work out that way. The Rams ran into the buzz saw that is the Seattle defense in a 16-10 loss to the Seahawks. Even without defensive end Cliff Avril, who may have a career-threatening neck injury, the Seahawks dominated the Rams in every facet on Sunday. Los Angeles turned the ball over five times, and Gurley mustered only 43 yards on 14 attempts, less than half of his per-game average this season.
While the Rams looked like the 2016 version of themselves, the Seahawks played like it was 2013. Safety Earl Thomas looked like his usual self, a.k.a. the best defensive back of his generation, with one interception late in the game and a forced fumble on a would-be Todd Gurley touchdown. That fumble resulted in a Seattle possession because the loose ball hit the pylon, mandating a touchback (NFL rules are dumb).
Amazingly, Thomas has done the exact same thing to the Rams before. He wasn’t the only defender killing Los Angeles drives, though. Defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson recorded his first career interception after he trailed Gurley on a screen and made an acrobatic catch off a tipped ball late in the third quarter.
Richardson followed that up a few drives later by picking a fumble up in stride after a Frank Clark stripsack, making this a memorable outing from the new Seahawk.
The Rams very nearly came back at the end of the game on a desperation drive, but a Cooper Kupp drop in the end zone sank Los Angeles’ chances. Now the Seahawks are 3-2, at the top of the NFC West, and have shown they still have a defense that should strike fear into every NFC contender’s heart. The Seahawks do have their deficiencies: Avril represents a major absence along the defensive line, and they’ve struggled to string together consistent drives and protect Wilson with a patchwork offensive line. Luckily, a lot of teams have been inconsistent on offense this season, but few have a defense that approaches that of the Seahawks.
Seattle sent a message to the rest of the NFC on Sunday: The road to the top of the NFC West—if not the Super Bowl—still runs through Seattle’s Silver Curtain.