In a 9-3 loss to the Rams in Los Angeles, the Seahawks were held without a touchdown for the first time since Oct. 18, 2012. Bob Condotta hands out the grades on a frustrating day for Seattle.
LOS ANGELES — Maybe it’s a second game of the year thing.
The 9-3 defeat Sunday at Los Angeles marked the third consecutive season Seattle has lost in its second game, all on the road.
Or maybe it’s a Rams’ thing. Seattle has lost four of the past five against the Rams in whatever city they play, and five of nine.
Certainly, the Seahawks hope it’s a blip in the road and not a sign of something more. A few more games, though, are needed to know that.
For now, here are some immediate actions to an afternoon that began with the Red Hot Chili Peppers singing, and the Rams then pouring some salt in Seattle’s wounds.
The two dominant story lines of the week — Russell Wilson’s ankle and the Seahawks’ potential struggles against the Rams’ defensive front — proved pivotal.
Coach Pete Carroll said the Seahawks didn’t change the game plan much due to Wilson’s ankle sprain but admitted he was a little limited.
Wilson’s mobility issues seemed most evident on a play early in the fourth quarter when on third-and-eight he took off running and was easily tackled in the open field for just 2 yards. Unquestionably, the Rams didn’t seem as worried as usual about Wilson’s running.
The Seattle offensive line, meanwhile, seemed to protect Wilson OK at times — notably on the 53-yard pass to Tyler Lockett on the final drive. But Seattle couldn’t get anything going in the running game, especially between the tackles, with the Rams obviously playing to the fact they didn’t have to account as much for Wilson tucking it and running on zone reads.
Thomas Rawls appeared as if he is still trying to find his 2015 form when he left the game in the second quarter after being kicked in the lower leg. With C.J. Prosise ruled out with a broken bone in his hand suffered last week, that left all the running to Christine Michael and rookie Alex Collins.
Michael had a brief flurry with 19 yards on the first three Seattle offensive plays of the third quarter. Otherwise, he was held to 41 yards on seven carries and then had the crucial fumble at the end to kill Seattle’s last hope of salvaging victory.
It appeared obvious Seattle wanted to attack the Rams’ suspect cornerbacks anytime they were in man coverage, and Lockett was able to get two big plays out of it. He had four receptions for 99 yards overall.
But with Lockett ailing much of the game and Doug Baldwin also nursing a few injuries — he said a knee is the most worrisome — Seattle had trouble doing much consistently in the passing game.
One bright spot was the sight of Jimmy Graham catching three passes for 42 yards as he got regular action throughout the game. But Seattle couldn’t get it to him during its one red-zone possession in the first quarter.
While some of the numbers aren’t as bad as might have been feared — Wilson was sacked just twice after being sacked 10 times by the Rams last season — the end result was the worst offensive day for Seattle in almost four seasons.
It’s hard to fault the defense much as the Rams had just 283 yards, with star running back Todd Gurley getting just 51 on 19 carries, and they were held to three field goals.
Conversely, this was a Rams’ offense that had been shut out last Monday by the 49ers.
And on a day crying out for a game-turning play, the defense didn’t force a turnover, and also gave up three passes for 27 yards or longer.
The Rams appeared to target Seattle cornerback DeShawn Shead, who was on the defending end of a few notable plays, including a 36-yard gain in the third quarter.
Penalties also proved critical — Kam Chancellor was called for a face mask that sparked the Rams’ first scoring drive and a pass interference penalty that got the Rams out of a big hole in the fourth quarter, and Cassius Marsh was flagged for a face mask that helped extend the Rams’ final drive.
As the rushing numbers indicate, though, Seattle’s defensive front generally played well. This was highlighted by Frank Clark, who had two of Seattle’s three sacks.
Oddly, given what has often happened when these two teams meet, special teams didn’t play a big factor. Each team made all of its field goals, the teams combined for just one kickoff return and out of 13 combined punts, there were seven fair catches and three more that were downed, went out of bounds or into the end zone.
The Seahawks might have preferred that Paul Richardson, who had kickoff return duty after Lockett was injured, had downed an attempt late in the second quarter that he fielded 6 yards deep and got back only to the 14, giving Seattle poor field position for its final drive of the first half.