INGLEWOOD, Calif. -- Whenever Geno Smith looked across the line in the final minutes at SoFi Stadium, he saw an inspired Bobby Wagner leading an entire Los Angeles Rams team desperately in need of a victory.
The Seattle quarterback didn't flinch while he finished out the most productive game of his decade in the NFL with style.
DK Metcalf caught an 8-yard touchdown pass from Smith with 36 seconds to play, completing the Seahawks' late rally for a 27-23 win over the spiraling Rams on Sunday.
Smith passed for a career-high 367 yards and threw three TD passes for the Seahawks (7-5), who barely snapped their two-game skid. Smith's offense racked up 438 yards against a Rams defense missing Aaron Donald, but it almost wasn't enough until Smith found Metcalf in a tight window between defenders in the end zone.
“He may do it again next week," Metcalf said of Smith. "He’s been doing it ever since he got here. Whenever we put him in and ask him to carry the load of being a leader as a quarterback, he’s done nothing but exceed expectations.”
While Russell Wilson founders in Denver, the quarterback who replaced him in Seattle is putting together an increasingly remarkable year, which now includes a career-high 3,169 yards passing.
After Cam Akers’ second TD run put the Rams up 23-20 with 2:56 to play, Smith patiently directed the winning 75-yard drive, hitting Marquise Goodwin for 17 yards one play before finding Metcalf.
“We had an opportunity there," said Smith, who played despite waking up feeling ill. “We could have said, ‘Hey, let’s just settle for the field goal.’ No one was in that mindset, you know. We all were thinking, ‘Let’s go win the game,’ and we got it done.”
Tyler Lockett and Noah Fant caught early TD passes from Smith. Metcalf had eight catches for 127 yards, and Lockett had nine receptions for a season-high 128 yards as the Seahawks sent defending Super Bowl champion Los Angeles (3-9) to its sixth straight defeat.
Wagner had two sacks and an interception for the Rams in his first career game against Seattle, where he spent the previous 10 years and made six All-Pro teams while becoming one of the greatest linebackers of his generation. Although Wagner downplayed the matchup during the week, he played with a fire that nearly propelled the injury-depleted Super Bowl champions to their first victory since Oct. 16.
“They just made some plays," said Wagner, who ripped the ball out of Tony Jones Jr.’s hands for his first interception with LA late in the third quarter. “Geno found his receivers, and you've got to tip your hat to him.”
John Wolford passed for 178 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions for the Rams, who are ensured their first losing season in coach Sean McVay's six-year tenure. Los Angeles hasn't won a game since Oct. 16.
“I’m proud to be rolling through this with this group,” McVay said. “I’m proud to be battling through adversity with them. I’m going to continue to do everything in my power for us to try to change the result, but you can’t deny that there’s been improvement.
"You’re not going away with the moral victories, but I think we can all see the steps this group has taken.”
Wolford made his fourth career start in place of Matthew Stafford, who missed his third game in four weeks for the Rams with injuries that have put him in the NFL’s concussion protocol twice. Stafford went on injured reserve Saturday, and McVay revealed after the game that Stafford's season is likely over due to bruising around his spinal cord.
Donald, the seven-time All-Pro defensive tackle, also missed the first game of his nine-year Rams career due to injury, sitting out with a high ankle sprain. He joined a dizzying list of contributors with major injury problems for Los Angeles, including All-Pro receiver Cooper Kupp and several key players on an offensive line that used its 12th starting combination in 12 games.
After Jason Myers' second field goal made it 20-16 with 6:46 left, the Rams went 75 yards in 3:50 for a score on a strong 6-yard run by Akers. Wolford didn’t regret taking the lead with more than enough time left for Smith to beat them.
“It’s hard. It’s a delicate balance there,” Wolford said. “I think you’ve got to just score. You know, it’s not like we can have Cam run this play and then get go down at the 1. You’ve got to take the lead, and I think we did a good job managing it as best we can.”
Seattle lost rookie running back Kenneth Walker to an ankle injury in the first half. DeeJay Dallas then got hurt on the final play before halftime, but he returned after Jones — the only healthy running back left on Seattle’s roster — took a hard hit from Russ Yeast. Walker will have more tests on his ankle. ... Seattle defensive back Josh Jones was ruled out with a hamstring injury early in the second quarter. ... Seattle safety Ryan Neal has a bursa sac issue on his knee.
Seahawks: Host Carolina on Sunday.
Rams: Host Las Vegas on Thursday night.
AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP—NFL