For Seahawks, There's No Place Like Home

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Poor sportsmanship: It’s not only rude, it can cost you the game. The St. Louis Rams proved this schoolmarmish warning right Sunday playing the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field.

The outcome was a convincing 27-9 win by the Seahawks, giving them a necessary victory after an embarrassing 17-10 home loss to the Arizona Cardinals last Sunday, an extra week to practice, and an important advantage.

The Seahawks will have a very loud, earthshaking 12th man along on every play of the playoffs until the Super Bowl. The refs won’t be able to penalize them for it.

ESPN published a cartoon on Facebook with the playoffs recast as the Wizard of Oz. Drew Brees was Dorothy, Colin Kaepernick the cowardly lion, LeSean McCoy the scarecrow and Cam Newton the tin woodsman. Flying monkeys/Seahawks circled overhead along with wicked witch Pete Carroll on his broom, telling them to attack the players on the yellow brick road.

ESPN’s Emerald City in the background was the real one, complete with clouds, rain and a Space Needle. The caption warned, “The NFC's road to the Super Bowl goes through Seattle. There's no place like home.”

Other teams should blame Rams coach Jeff Fisher for that unfortunate terrain. The game was a heated contest. One play alone drew four penalties - three for the Rams, one for the Seahawks. Refs struggled most of the game to keep order. But Carroll ultimately controlled his players where Fisher did not.

Last time the two teams met, in October in St. Louis, the Seahawks narrowly squeaked by, 14-9. Wide receiver Golden Tate scored the winning touchdown but drew a penalty and a fine for taunting the Rams. This time Tate took a lot of abuse and scored a touchdown, but he behaved himself.

The same can’t be said for Rams defensive tackle Kendall Langford. He was arguing with an official and inadvertently knocked another ref’s hat off in the third quarter. This led to his ejection from the game and yet another penalty for the Rams.

Rams fans complained about the Langford penalty. After all, they pointed out, he was essentially penalized for being too Italian. He was gesticulating, not aiming at the ref’s head.

True, but that defense ignores context. Officials were struggling to get control of the game in the third quarter. The Seahawks mostly behaved themselves, heeding Carroll’s sideline orders to disengage and huddle up.

The Rams, on the other cleat, kept at it. They managed to rack up six personal fouls and unsportsmanlike conduct penalties in just over a minute, putting the ball ever closer to the goal line.

The Rams had made Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch earn every yard to that point. He was able to practically walk the ball into the end zone after penaltypalooza.

When the Rams were busy misbehaving, the Seahawks enjoyed a lead but hardly a commanding one. It was 13-3 in the third quarter with plenty of time left to catch up. Rather than working hard to stop the drive, the Rams threw a tantrum and threw the game in the process.

On his way out of the stadium, Langford made a lot of noise. He threw his helmet and exchanged words with Seahawks fans. This managed to torch any sympathy we might have had for him and gave sportswriters the perfect metaphor to describe his team’s deep dysfunction.

Jeremy Lott is editor-at-large of RealClearSports.

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