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Rams' escape hatch is kicked shut
After St. Louis rallied with a late touchdown, the Seahawks won on a 54-yard field goal.
ST. LOUIS -- The luck of the Rams finally ran out.
Twice this season -- against Arizona and Green Bay -- St. Louis was on the verge of losing, only to be saved by late-game fumbles by opponents. It almost happened again Sunday, but Seattle's Josh Brown kicked a 54-yard field goal as time expired to give Seattle an improbable 30-28 win.
"It was a great game to watch, I'm sure," Seattle coach Mike Holmgren said. "A tough game to coach. Fortunately, Josh was on today."
The win put Seattle (4-1) back atop the NFC West, a half-game ahead of the Rams (4-2), who have a bye next week. Seattle won with MVP running back Shaun Alexander still out with a broken foot, and without wide receiver Bobby Engram (thyroid condition) and tight end Jerramy Stevens (knee).
The game shaped up early as a Rams blowout. Two touchdown passes from Marc Bulger to Torry Holt and a 2-yard run by Steven Jackson gave St. Louis a 21-7 lead at the half.
As dominant as the Rams were in the first half, Seattle was better in the second, scoring 20 straight points to go up 27-21 late in the game.
Then the fun began.
After Bulger's first interception in 204 attempts this season gave Seattle the ball deep in St. Louis territory, the game seemed over. But Leonard Little stripped Mo Morris at the St. Louis 7 with 2:48 to play, and Jimmy Kennedy recovered.
From the St. Louis 33, Bulger threw deep over the middle. Holt, in single coverage, got a hand on the ball at the Seattle 20, tipped it into the air, then grabbed it and ran into the end zone for a career-best third touchdown catch.
"It was a shot," Bulger said. "As long as I could get one-on-one coverage, I just wanted to give him (Holt) a chance. Great players do things like that."
The Rams have had plenty of luck on their side this season. Against Arizona, the Cardinals had the ball deep in Rams territory and were setting up a winning chip-shot field goal when quarterback Kurt Warner fumbled. The Rams recovered, securing a 16-14 win.
Last week, St. Louis was up 23-20 with the Packers moving. But Little stripped the ball from Brett Favre at the Rams 11, and St. Louis had another gift.
This time, Seattle had an answer, led by Matt Hasselbeck, who was 19-of-34 for 268 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions.
Starting at the Seattle 17 and with no timeouts, Hasselbeck hit D.J. Hackett for 14 yards, Darrell Jackson for 19 and Deion Branch for nine. Two runs moved the ball to the St. Louis 31.
As Hasselbeck spiked the ball with 4 seconds left, the Seahawks were whistled for an illegal formation. The Rams began to celebrate, believing a 10-second clock runoff would give them the win.
"The 10-second runoff people are familiar with is a false start, or when the players never get set before the ball is snapped," referee Ed Hochuli said. "This is not a 10-second runoff situation."
Brown then made his third field goal of the game, the ball sailing well past the goalpost.
"I really didn't have a whole lot of worries," Brown said.
Seattle sacked Bulger six times, often with just a three-man front. Former Ram Bryce Fisher and Julian Peterson had two sacks each.
"We have too high of a sack number right now," Rams coach Scott Linehan said. "We don't want to give away any, but for them to get us in a three-man rush is not good."
Branch, making his first start since coming to Seattle in a trade from New England earlier this season, had six catches for 76 yards and two touchdowns. Jackson had four catches for 94 yards and a touchdown.
The wild ending might not have happened if not for a wing-and-a-prayer play by Seattle in the third quarter.
Down 21-7 and facing third-and-15, Hasselbeck threw the ball about 60 yards in the air to Darrell Jackson, who split triple coverage and slid under the pass for a 42-yard score.
"To be honest, I really didn't think he was going to get there and catch it," Hasselbeck said.
Brown's 49-yard field goal got Seattle within four. Then Kevin Curtis fumbled the ensuing kickoff, Seattle's Kevin Bentley recovering at the St. Louis 22.
Two plays later, Hasselbeck threw a perfect fade pass and Branch easily beat Travis Fisher to give Seattle its first lead.
Brown added another 49-yarder with 10:33 to play, setting up the wild ending.
Notes: Bulger was 26-of-39 for 360 yards and the three TD passes to Holt. ... Jackson, leading the NFL in yards from scrimmage and tied for the lead in rushing, ran for 56 yards on 20 carries and caught seven passes for 40 yards. ... Mo Morris, subbing for Alexander, gained just 4 yards on five first-half carries, but had 70 yards on 18 carries in the second half.