The St. Louis Rams continues to be a thorn in the side of the Seattle Seahawks, with a defense that gets great stops, Nick Foles who is a huge upgrade at quarterback and Tavon Austin who shows he can score in a lot of ways, while on the other end Russell Wilson was completely pedestrian, Marshawn Lynch couldn’t turn a 4th & 1 into a game winning drive and kicker Steven Hauschka blew it on the opening kick in overtime.
The Rams and Seahawks went back and forth in a physical, mistake filled game, which included an interception by Wilson and three lost fumbles by the Rams, including two by Nick Foles. Foles also threw a big touchdown pass in the fourth quarter with 53 seconds left on the clock to send the game into overtime. Not a perfect game on his debut for the Rams (18-of-27, 297 yards, one touchdown) but certainly an upgrade compared to what St. Louis had last season.
Wilson threw one interception which resulted in a field goal right after, and finished the game completing 32-of-41 passes (a new career high for them, and not a number the Seahawks want to see from him) for 251 yards, including one touchdown pass to Jimmy Graham (on his debut for the team). The Seahawks grabbed the lead with 4:39 in the game after Foles fumbled the the return, resulting in a touchdown by Cary Williams, but then Foles rectified his mistake with his throw to Lance Kendricks.
Overtime is where myth became reality and urban legends were ruined. The 4th & 1 the Seahawks needed to get so much after the Rams scored a field goal to take the 34-31 lead? Marshawn Lynch, unlike the Super Bowl, got the chance to be the hero, but he was stuffed. The truth? Over the last 10 seasons, the league success rate on 4th-and-1 runs in any quarter was 68.6%. In that time, when a running back runs the ball on 4th-and-1, they have a 63.5% conversion percentage (547/861). When a QB runs the ball in that scenario, they have a 81.1 conversion percentage (292/360). Wilson should have ran the ball, or throw a pass, although Pete Carroll has to be afraid of those things by now. That Super Bowl loss will stay with him forever, and maybe affect his future decisions.
But overtime began poorly for the Seahawks on what appeared to be an onside kick by Hauschka, but as Carroll said later on, it was simply a mistake. Not some attempt at a genius trick play. Simply a mistake, which in a way, cost the Seahawks the game.
We just didn’t execute that. That’s not what was supposed to happen. We just didn’t execute properly on the kick. We were kicking the ball in a certain area of the field. We didn’t hit it right, and so we just mishit it. … We were kicking the ball way down the field.
This allowed the Rams a very short drive (beginning on the Seattle 49), allowing Greg Zuerlein to score a 37 yards field goal that won the game. Overtime win for the Rams? That hasn’t happened to them on a season opener since 2001, when they made the Super Bowl. Lynch has now converted a 1st down on 5-of-9 career rush attempts on 4th-and-1, ranking 35th out of 49 RBs with at least five 4th-and-1 attempts since Lynch entered the league in 2007. Since 2007, the NFL average 1st down conversion rate for RBs rushing on a 4th-and-1 is 63.1%.