Walking off the field, his back to the huddle, Austin Davis had no idea the St. Louis Rams would gamble in this spot. Not backed up at their 18.
The quarterback glanced back in surprise to see Johnny Hekker, arm cocked, about to let one go.
It certainly surprised the Seattle Seahawks, even though they’ve seen it before.
”That’s pretty sweet,” Hekker said of the pass to a wide-open Benny Cunningham that helped the Rams run out the clock and beat the defending Super Bowl champions 28-26 on Sunday. ”We’ve been practicing that play for a long time.”
Hekker is a former high school quarterback and is the holder on place kicks. His TD pass on a fake field goal to Danny Amendola, who’d pretended to jog off the field, was the go-ahead score and the lone touchdown for the Rams in a 19-13 win over Seattle in September 2012.
The Seahawks were familiar with the fake punt/pass but didn’t expect trickery in that situation. They got fooled more than once.
Stedman Bailey had a 90-yard touchdown on a trick return that had the Seahawks thinking another player was going to field the punt. Cunningham had a 75-yard kickoff return on a squibbed kick that had rolled into the end zone and perhaps put the Seahawks on their heels. It set up an early touchdown for the Rams (2-4).
The Rams won for just the third time in 19 games against Seattle. They scored more than 20 points against Seattle for the first time in 15 meetings since 2006.
”It was great execution by them on a couple different scenarios,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll. ”It made a huge difference in this game.
”If they don’t catch that ball, it’s ours and we kick the field goal and it’s over. A very gutsy play.”
Russell Wilson rushed for 106 yards on seven carries and also passed for two touchdowns while going 23 for 36 for 313 yards, becoming the first quarterback in NFL history with 300 yards passing and 100 yards rushing.
But the struggling Seahawks fell to 3-3 with a second straight loss.
The Seahawks dominated statistically, outgaining the Rams 463 yards to 272. Doug Baldwin’s’ 9-yard reception cut the deficit to two with 3:18 to go, but the Rams were able to run out the clock after Hekker’s completion to Cunningham on fourth-and-3, and somehow recovered a fumble by Tre Mason in the final minute.
NFL spokesman Michael Signora said the play was reviewed by the league and that there was ”no evidence of a clear recovery by either St. Louis or Seattle.”
Cory Harkey was credited with a fumble recovery, and the Rams finished it with a kneel-down. The Seahawks’ Richard Sherman had the ball after it popped out of Harkey’s grasp, but Harkey apparently grabbed it back in the scrum.
”I stripped the ball and it was a big scuffle and I was just trying to help Sherm get the ball,” safety Earl Thomas said. ”He had it but somehow … I don’t know.”