Amid all the conspiracy theories about how the NFL wanted to give Green Bay Packers an easier game by putting them on Sunday night, when the Detroit Lions might be eliminated, one thing was rarely mentioned.
The Seattle Seahawks still needed to win Sunday.
The Seahawks almost blew it.
Facing a Rams team finishing out a miserable follow-up to their Super Bowl LVI championship, the Seahawks trailed deep into the fourth quarter. They tied it and went to overtime after missing a field goal as time expired in regulation. An interception in overtime set up a Seahawks drive, highlighted by some big plays by Kenneth Walker III and Tyler Lockett to get Seattle into field-goal range. Jason Myers didn't miss again, and his field goal beat the Rams 19-16. That kept the Seahawks alive for at least a few more hours.
The Seahawks then had to start rooting for the Lions, who were eliminated with Seattle's win. A Lions win over the Packers on Sunday night would put the Seahawks in the playoffs. The Seahawks almost took themselves out of the postseason race with a ragged performance.
Seahawks struggle against the Rams
The Seahawks were 6-3 at one point. They looked like geniuses for unloading Russell Wilson and then watching Geno Smith have a breakout season. The Seahawks' slump after that start wasn't Smith's fault. The whole team faded.
That's why the Seahawks needed help to make the playoffs heading into Sunday. They were 8-8 coming into the regular-season finale. They were playing a Rams team that long ago had its playoff hopes dashed, and was without several stars due to injuries. Seattle was at home on top of it. At very least, it should have been an easy win to keep its playoff hopes alive, then a nervous evening watching the Packers-Lions game.
Except it was far from an easy afternoon. The Rams scored first, getting a field goal after a Smith interception. Los Angeles' defense played hard and kept the Seahawks out of the end zone in the first half.
The Rams scored on a Tutu Atwell 11-yard touchdown run in the final minute of the first half. The Seahawks found themselves trailing 13-6 at halftime in a game that everyone assumed they would win, one they needed to win to keep their postseason hopes alive.
Seahawks, Rams go to OT
The Seahawks, perhaps finally realizing the urgency of the situation, scored early in the third quarter. Lockett hauled in a touchdown pass from Smith and the game was tied.
The Rams wouldn't go away. They took back the lead with a field goal. Jalen Ramsey got his second interception of the game.
A running into the punter penalty was a huge help to the Seahawks. Punter Michael Dickson did a good job selling it when he was bumped into. That penalty came in the fourth quarter and gave the Seahawks a first down. Seattle drove into Rams territory after that and had a chance to take the lead, but the Rams' defense held at the goal line and Seattle settled for a field goal. The game was tied 16-16 with 2:19 to go.
The Seahawks had a shot to win at the end of the fourth quarter. Another questionable penalty on the Rams, when Smith ran into Ramsey on the sideline and drew a personal foul penalty, set up Myers for a field-goal attempt at the end of regulation. But Myers hit the right upright and the game went to overtime.
Seattle punted to start overtime but then Baker Mayfield threw an interception on a deep shot to Van Jefferson to give the ball back to the Seahawks. That set up the game-winning drive.
The Seahawks could control only one thing Sunday, and that was winning against the Rams. They handled that part, barely.