Somebody had to win. Thankfully for the Seattle Seahawks, Charlie Whitehurst didn’t play like he had in his previous contests.
Whitehurst threw for 192 yards and a touchdown and had no interceptions or sacks as the Seahawks became the first division winner in league history with a losing record when they stopped the St. Louis Rams 16-6 Sunday night.
The 32nd ranked rushing attack added 141 yards on the ground for NFC champion Seattle (7-9), which will host the defending champion New Orleans Saints Saturday in the first round of the NFC playoffs.
Seattle had lost seven of nine games entering the contest with wins against Carolina and Arizona, teams that combined for a 7-25 record. The Seahawks limped in with three straight losses by a combined 112-54.
Whitehurst had appeared in parts of four games this season and his highest passer rating (68.3) came in last week's loss to the Buccaneers.
His only other start this season was a disaster, as the Seahawks were routed at home by the New York Giants 41-7. Playing behind Philip Rivers in San Diego for four years, Whitehurst never got a chance to see the field.
Whitehurst did his best work on the first and last drives of the game. He marched the Seahawks 87 yards in six plays for a quick 7-0 lead.
He completed 5-of-5 for 85 yards on the drive, including a 61-yard pass to Ruvell Martin down the right sideline and a 4-yard pass to Mike Williams in the left flat for the touchdown.
St. Louis rookie quarterback Sam Bradford made his only mistake of the game, throwing an interception to linebacker Will Herring with 8:42 left at the Seattle 37.
Whitehurst took the Seahawks on a seven-minute drive that was capped by Olindo Mare’s third field goal, a 34-yarder with 1:37 left to give Seattle a 16-6 lead.
Bradford and the Rams couldn’t get anything going. Nine of their 13 possessions ended with punts – seven possessions were 3-and-out – and the offense managed just 184 yards. St. Louis had 63 yards in the second half.
Bradford finished 19-of-36 for 155 yards and he was sacked three times.
After Whitehurst led the opening-drive touchdown, Seattle managed just 80 yards the rest of the half, St. Louis managed 121 yards and converted 1-of-7 third downs as the teams combined for 10 punts.
Bradford did drive the Rams from their own 7 to the Seattle 14 before settling for a Josh Brown field goal.
Brown added a second field goal early in the third to bring St. Louis within 7-6, but Mare added a 38-yarder late in the third to rebuild a four-point edge.