Jared Goff, Todd Gurley and the rest of the Los Angeles Rams who will make up the foundation of the franchise as it moves forward from a tumultuous first season back in Southern California got an up-close look Thursday night at what they eventually must overcome.
Even with all its flaws, Seattle remains the class of the NFC West.
The Seahawks clinched their third division title in the past four seasons with a 24-3 win over the Rams, adding another setback to an already lost season for Los Angeles. It was the capper to a crazy week for the Rams that started with the firing of head coach Jeff Fisher and concluded with a fifth straight loss.
And while interim coach John Fassel soaked up his first opportunity to be an NFL head coach — with his dad, former NFL coach Jim Fassel, in attendance — he also was witness to the same mistakes that have led to a miserable season for his team.
Los Angeles botched early opportunities to put a scare into the Seahawks, including Michael Thomas dropping a potential touchdown and Goff throwing behind wide-open Brian Quick in the end zone.
One play after Goff and Quick couldn't connect, Gurley was stopped on fourth down. Seattle scored on the ensuing drive, and the Seahawks took control.
"Obviously, losing was disappointing," Fassel said. "But standing out in the stadium and my dad was on the sideline and just looking around at the stands — how quickly things change in basically 72 hours. From Monday morning to Thursday afternoon. It's just a lesson for me that you always have to be ready to adapt and take on responsibilities that you didn't anticipate. But it's an experience that of course I'll never forget."
Seattle was able to wrap up the division thanks mostly to a bounce-back effort from Russell Wilson. A week after one of the worst games of his career, with five interceptions in a 38-10 loss at Green Bay, Wilson was back to being a dynamic playmaker.
He threw for 229 yards and three touchdowns, hitting Luke Willson on an 8-yard score, finding Doug Baldwin on a 1-yard TD late in the third quarter and the capper a 57-yard strike to Tyler Lockett on the second play of the fourth quarter to put the game out of reach.
Lockett finished with seven catches for a career-high 130 yards.
"It's taken a complete team effort every time and it's a special thing to be able to go to the playoffs five years in a row," Wilson said.
That touchdown pass to Baldwin wasn't without controversy thanks to teammate Richard Sherman. Seattle's star cornerback was livid on the sideline about the decision to have Wilson throw on first-and-goal from the 1, a pass intended for Jimmy Graham that was almost intercepted.
Two plays later Baldwin caught the touchdown, but not before Sherman screamed toward coach Pete Carroll about the decision to throw.
After the game, Sherman even referenced the Super Bowl when Wilson's pass from the 1 was intercepted by New England's Malcolm Butler.
"I don't like it when we throw the ball at the 1," Sherman said. "We throw an interception at the 1 — luckily it went incomplete — and I wasn't going to let them continue to do that."
Here are some other things to know after Seattle snapped a three-game losing streak to the Rams:
GOFF'S GAMBLE: Goff scrambled for a 15-yard run in the fourth quarter and took a huge hit from Sherman along the sideline. Goff could have gone out of bounds sooner, but exposed himself to the hit. He was pulled to be checked for a concussion and never returned.
"It's a learning experience for me to make sure the kid gets down and gets out of bounds and protects the football and his body," Fassel said. "He also knows that and this will teach him that that's what he's got to do."
RYAN'S RUN: Seattle punter Jon Ryan got his moment of glory, pulling off a fake punt midway through the fourth quarter and running for 26 yards.
The play ended in disaster. Ryan bobbled the ball as he sprinted into Rams territory and as he went to the turf, was hit in the helmet from the side and suffered a concussion.
SCORING TITLE: The three points allowed by Seattle will give the Seahawks a chance going into the final two weeks of claiming the scoring defense title for a fifth straight year. The Seahawks are allowing 16.8 points per game and close the season against Arizona and San Francisco.
GURLEY'S ROLE: Gurley's lackluster second season continued. The running back was held to 38 yards on 14 carries, a total that included a 22-yard run. Gurley had five runs that went for no gain or negative yardage.