Running a deep pass pattern in the final minute of the Rams' 27-22 victory Sunday, Seahawks wide receiver Bobby Engram tripped over a back judge who had fallen and was rolling. Instead of a chance at scoring the go-ahead touchdown, the ball was nearly intercepted by linebacker Tommy Polley in the end zone.
"I thought I had it," quarterback Matt Hasselbeck said. "We liked the matchup, one-on-one, Bobby on a middle linebacker who's kind of turned around. It's just a real bad break for us."
Back judge Greg Steed said his feet got tangled as he cut across the field.
"What I did was I looked up, and as I turned, my feet got caught," Steed said. "I went down to the ground and began rolling, and that is all that I remember on the play."
It was tough luck for the Seahawks.
"We are just part of the field, and unfortunately if we get in the way, we just get in the way," referee Walt Coleman said. "We try not to, but if we do, it is just part of what happens."
The Seahawks (8-6) stalled on the Rams 34 as St. Louis (11-3) clinched the division with two games to spare.
"I'd appreciate a blowout every now and then," defensive end Grant Wistrom said. "It would make it a little easier on the stomach. But as long as we keep winning, we'll take them any way we can get them."
The Rams have won 13 in a row at home, tying a franchise record set from 1998-2000, and are 7-0 this year. They did just enough to continue the Seahawks' road woes and put a dent in Seattle's playoff hopes.
Marshall Faulk did the most to clinch the Rams' third division championship in five years, leading a final, clock-killing march. He more than doubled his yardage for the first 3½ quarters, when he was held to a measly 34 yards on 20 carries.
"I just carry the ball, there's no secret to it," Faulk said. "If my number was going to be called, that was fine. That's my mind-set."
Shaun Alexander had 126 yards on 25 carries and a touchdown for the Seahawks (8-6), 1-6 on the road. Seattle played much better than last week, a 34-7 loss to the Vikings, even with four replacement starters on defense largely due to injuries.
The Rams avenged a one-point loss in Seattle in September in which they blew a 13-point second-half lead. In the rematch, the Seahawks cut what had been a 12-point deficit to two early in the fourth quarter on Alexander's 2-yard run. Then the Rams put it away.
Faulk had 85 yards on 28 carries, ending a string of four straight 100-yard games. But he had the ball on all nine plays in the clinching drive that started on the St. Louis 15 with 5:57 to go. He went 28 yards on the first play and had eight carries for 51 yards and one reception for 6 yards to set up a 46-yard field goal by Jeff Wilkins with 1:37 to go.
Getting forced to settle for two short field goals by Josh Brown also hurt the Seahawks in the end.
Seattle got the early advantage when Orlando Huff sacked Marc Bulger in the end zone on the Rams' first drive for a safety. The Rams answered with a 5-yard run by Faulk and a pair of touchdown passes by Bulger for a 21-12 lead at the half.
Torry Holt caught his 11th touchdown pass, and first in four games, on an underthrown ball in the end zone in the second quarter. Holt had six catches for 100 yards to help the Rams compensate for the loss of Isaac Bruce, who left in the second quarter with a sprained ankle.
Bruce expects to play next week against the Bengals.
"I'll just roll with it," Bruce said. "No big deal."
Darrell Jackson caught his ninth touchdown pass, a career best, for the Seahawks. Randall Godfrey's interception gave Seattle the ball at the Rams 36 near the two-minute break, but the Seahawks had to settle for a field goal when a 9-yard touchdown pass to Alexander was called back because of an illegal shift.
The Seahawks again had to settle for three points in the third quarter on a 38-yarder by Brown that cut the gap to 21-15 after Adam Archuleta batted down a third-down pass.
- Holt has nine 100-yard receiving games this season, tied with Bruce for the franchise record.
- Huff left the game with a high ankle sprain in the second quarter.
- Jackson has a career-best nine touchdown catches, one better than in 2001.
- Alexander has six 100-yard games, and two in the past three games.
- Rams cornerback Jerametrius Butler left with a bruised knee in the fourth quarter.
The Associated Press News Service
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