(AP) Russell Wilson threw two touchdown passes to Golden Tate, including a dazzling 80-yard strike in the second half, and the Seattle Seahawks led the St. Louis Rams 14-6 after three quarters on Monday night.
Buoyed by their defense, which had sacked Wilson six times, the Rams closed to 7-6 on Greg Zuerlein's second field goal late in the third quarter.
Two plays later, Wilson went deep down the sideline to Tate, who made an acrobatic leaping catch over Janoris Jenkins. Tate regained his balance and then mockingly waved at safety Rodney McLeod as he ran to the end zone, earning an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
The stunt elicited boos from a sparse crowd that was announced as 55,966 but in reality was much smaller, in part because the Rams have been having a hard time drawing fans, and in part due to the Cardinals playing the Red Sox in Game 5 of the World Series just up the street.
In fact, some of the folks who turned up at the dome were sporting Cardinals jerseys. The Rams helped them out by showing the World Series during pregame warm-ups on the big screens, and the score was also kept current on the ribbon boards.
It looked as if St. Louis was heading for one tough night. The Cardinals lost 3-1, putting the Red Sox one win away from the title.
The Rams' Kellen Clemens made his first start in two years in place of quarterback Sam Bradford, who sustained a season-ending knee injury last week against Carolina. He completed a 26-yard pass to Austin Pettis to set up Zuerlein's first field goal, but also threw two picks in the first half, including one to ball-hawking cornerback Richard Sherman.
Sherman caught the overthrown pass near the Seattle sideline and made several Rams miss as he returned it 38 yards. It was his fourth pick of the season, tied for the league lead.
The opportunistic Seahawks, who entered the weekend tied for the NFL lead with 19 turnovers, scored six plays later when Wilson hit Tate on third-and-goal from the 2-yard line.
The Seahawks, who at 6-1 are riding the best start in franchise history, led despite a bunch of penalties. They were flagged for illegal use of hands to scuttle their first drive, and a hold on right guard J.R. Sweezy wiped out a 16-yard run by Marshawn Lynch early in the game.
On that play, Rams defensive tackle Kendall Langford the guy who had been held comically picked up the flag after it was thrown by the referee and threw it again for emphasis.
The Rams stayed in the game thanks to their defense, which took advantage of the Seahawks missing starting offensive tackles Russell Okung and Breno Giacomini due to injuries. Robert Quinn had three sacks in the first half for St. Louis.
Seattle had minus-1 yard of offense in the first quarter, and 38 yards at the half, its fewest since gaining 37 in the first half against Kansas City in 1998, according to STATS LLC.
It didn't help that Seattle lost wide receiver Sidney Rice late in the first half with what the team called a knee injury. It wasn't clear which knee Rice hurt or when the injury occurred, but he headed to the locker room without his helmet and didn't return to the game.