Just like you never expected, it took the center to break the streak.
As the St. Louis Rams' fourth-quarter lead bounced awkwardly around the CenturyLink Field turf, it was center Tim Barnes who came to the rescue. Barnes recovered two fumbles in a span of three plays, extending the fourth-quarter drive that ultimately allowed running back Todd Gurley to put Sunday's game away with a 2-yard touchdown run.
And with each Barnes recovery, the Rams took a step closer to doing what they hadn't done in Seattle since Jan. 8, 2005: Beat the division rival Seattle Seahawks on their home field and sweep the season series.
As it turned out, that's exactly what the Rams did as they produced a dominant defensive performance and just enough offense to close out a 23-17 victory. That ended Seattle's streak of 10 consecutive home wins against the Rams.
For Barnes, it was the culmination of an interesting year in which he was non-tendered as a restricted free agent, re-signed at a cheaper rate, won the starting job and held on to it throughout the year despite some rough outings.
Barnes' first fumble recovery came after back Benny Cunningham appeared to convert a third-and-1 but fumbled it forward before Barnes wrestled it from safety Earl Thomas. The second came after Gurley burst to Seattle's 9 but coughed it up, only for Barnes to fall on it at Seattle's 2.
Three plays later, Gurley scored from 2 yards out to seal the win and give the Rams one of their most impressive victories of the season. Entering this game, it seemed the Rams would need something unexpected to pull out a victory. That something turned out to be the St. Louis center.
What it means: The Rams improved to 7-8 on the season, allowing them to match their highest win total since coach Jeff Fisher arrived in 2012. It also gives them a three-game winning streak for only the second time under Fisher and gives them a chance to get to 8-8 for the first time since 2006 if they can get a win next week in San Francisco. It also ensured the Rams a winning record in the NFC West division, where they improved to 4-1.
What were they thinking: On Seattle's opening drive of the third quarter, the Rams couldn't seem to grasp the concept of covering Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin, the same wideout who has been the league's most productive player at his position in recent weeks. Baldwin torched the Rams for two catches and 53 yards with one coming on third-and-31 and the other on third-and-18. The first set up a fourth-and-3 conversion and the second went for a touchdown.
One reason to be excited: The Rams will face many tough decisions in free agency this offseason, but perhaps none will be more difficult than how to divvy up the money at cornerback. Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson have both played like No. 1 corners this season, with Johnson coming on especially strong in the season's second half. The good news for the Rams is there might not be a bad choice to make if they can't keep both. And if they can, they have one of the best young groups of corners in the league moving forward.
Fantasy watch: Running room was hard to come by for all parties in this one, especially early on. But for those who rolled the dice on Gurley, it turned out much better than expected. He finished with 85 yards on 19 carries and found his way into the end zone for the touchdown that iced the win.
Ouch: It was not a good day for the Rams and head injuries. Defensive tackle Nick Fairley, cornerback Johnson, linebacker Mark Barron and defensive lineman Ethan Westbrooks all departed to be evaluated for concussions. Johnson returned to the game but the others did not.
What's next: The Rams will spend the week on the West Coast, traveling to Napa, California, to practice before wrapping up the 2015 season with a game against the San Francisco 49ers in Santa Clara.