This rollicking stadium has earned a spot in the Guinness Book.
Now, Ripley’s Believe It or Not.
An NFC West showdown between the Rams and Seattle Seahawks dissolved into a back-and-forth, rub-your-eyes spectacle with a few unlikely heroes and a petting zoo full of goats. The Rams wound up winning 26-17, but it was anything but a beauty contest.
The NFL is a copycat league after all, so maybe it isn’t surprising that these teams went gaffe-for-gaffe all night.
The Seahawks would miss a kick, then the Rams would.
A dumb penalty by the Rams? “Hold my Gatorade,” countered the Seahawks.
For instance, savvy as he is, Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford made a blunder at the beginning of the second quarter. On second down, eight yards away from scoring, he rolled to his right, couldn’t find a receiver, then looked to harmlessly throw the ball away. Instead he lobbed it too low, and Seattle’s Quandre Diggs ended the threat with an interception.
“Obviously, I can’t make that mistake I made,” Stafford said. “If I’m gonna throw it away, I’ve got to throw it away. That’s a big momentum swing in the game. … To give them life there, is frankly a play that’s not good enough.”
Both sides had overthrows and underthrows, including a too-shallow deep ball on third and 10 to DeSean Jackson that the Rams receiver deftly caught, then turned into a 68-yard gain.
“We had one monster play that happened in the game,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said, referring to that reception. “We were in command of third and 10, we were on top of it, and they made… I don’t know what that play was, a very fortunate play. Then they went and scored and took advantage of that.”
The Seahawks had their share of good fortune too. Notably, the double kick by punter Seattle’s Michael Dickson. He was able to scoop up his own blocked punt, which was spinning nose-up on the ground, then booted it a second time. After some confusion and discussion among the officials, the 68-yard punt stood.
“It was just a remarkable moment,” Carroll said. “A marvelous play we witnessed.”
Back and forth — even when it came to injuries.
Stafford suffered a finger injury on his throwing hand? Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson did him one better, reluctantly leaving the game for good in the third quarter with a badly jammed middle finger.
This didn’t look like a pair of elite teams angling to stay within reach of the undefeated Arizona Cardinals. The game — played before a fan base at times has been deemed the world’s loudest — came down to who would whiff on fewer opportunities. The Rams improved to 4-1; the Seahawks dropped to 2-3.
There were some stellar moments. Rams receiver Robert Woods, seemingly lost in the shuffle in the first four weeks, was suddenly a focal point. He was targeted a game-high 14 times, making 12 catches for 150 yards.
“I try to throw the ball where the defense tells me to throw it,” Stafford said. “He was in the spot tonight where they were telling me to throw it, and he made huge plays.”
Teammate Cooper Kupp had seven catches for 92 yards, showing a freakish ability to latch onto a ball that arrived the instant he turned toward Stafford.
Seattle’s 6-foot-4 DK Metcalf, the Seahawks’ answer to the Space Needle, made a pair of touchdown catches.
Maybe the weirdest story line was the resurfacing of Geno Smith, Wilson’s backup who replaced him at the start of the fourth quarter. Smith is a guy who bounced from both New York teams — Jets then Giants — to the Chargers, then to Seattle. He hadn’t thrown a touchdown pass since 2017, and now is backing up an iron man in Wilson.
Backups to Wilson had thrown just five passes in the past five years. But Thursday night, as the comeback-hungry crowd unleashed a “GE-NO, GE-NO” chant, Smith had a glimpse of glory. He threw a 23-yard touchdown pass to Metcalf early in the fourth quarter to cut the lead to two points, before the Rams pulled away with a touchdown and field goal down the stretch.
For Seattle, the looming questions concern how quickly their star quarterback can return.
“Russell is one of the great healers of all time,” Carroll said. “He’ll try to get back as soon as humanly possible.”
The Rams are back on track after their loss to Arizona — Sean McVay’s teams are 16-5 after losses — and they have a bit of a rest before their Oct. 17 game at the New York Giants. Their heads should stop spinning by then.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.