The Seattle Seahawks’ offense receives a D-minus, as its recent explosiveness goes poof in a 23-17 loss to the St. Louis Rams on Sunday.
Searching afterward for anything good to take away from the 23-17 defeat Sunday against the St. Louis Rams, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll was asked whether a loss before the playoffs could serve as a good wake-up call.
“I always like that kind of positive thinking,’’ Carroll said. “Yeah, it could make a difference. We’ll see how we bounce back.’’
It won’t be easy, with the Seahawks now heading to Arizona and then into the playoffs, where at least the first two games would be on the road.
Sunday, though, showed there’s a lot of work to be done first.
Seattle had averaged 34 points in its past five games, all victories.
But that came to a thud against the Rams as Seattle got just half that — with one touchdown coming with 17 seconds left.
It’s tempting to say the Rams always give Seattle trouble, but St. Louis came in ranked 22nd in total defense. You wouldn’t have known it the way the Rams pushed the Seahawks around, with the likes of tackles Aaron Donald and Michael Brockers dominating Seattle up front, sacking Russell Wilson four times and holding the running game to 60 yards on 22 carries — 39 from Wilson. Wilson got 21 yards on one fourth-quarter scramble that ended in a fumble. Otherwise, Seattle had 39 yards on 21 carries with the tailbacks getting just 26 yards on 15 carries, none longer than seven, that coming against a St. Louis defense that had allowed 140 or more rushing yards to five of its last seven opponents.
Seattle’s offensive line played like the one that struggled through the first half of the season and not the one that has been so dynamic the previous five. That not only forced Wilson to run for his life all day, it also meant the Seahawks could not get a conventional running game going. And while it’s tempting to give Seattle the out that the Rams have a good defensive front, St. Louis also allowed two of the last three teams it played to gain 500 or more yards and was without injured end Robert Quinn.
The Seahawks had to play without left tackle Russell Okung, who was out with a calf injury. He was replaced by Alvin Bailey, who got his first start of the year at that spot. Carroll said he wouldn’t put the struggles of the offensive line on the absence of Okung, though.
Center Patrick Lewis had two particularly bad snaps while Bailey got called for three penalties and guard J.R. Sweezy two.
The Seahawks were down to just one tight end after the loss of Luke Willson to a concussion in the second quarter, and that also hurt the protection.
The Rams had success bringing pressure with five pass-rushers, and the Seahawks never could seem to figure out how to stop it.
“We really had a difficult time at the line of scrimmage, moving the football and protecting,’’ Carroll said.
While there were a few defensive failings, this was a game more about the ineptitude of the offense than the defense. The Rams had just 207 yards — 3.9 per play, tying the fourth-lowest of the year allowed by the Seahawks.
For three quarters, the defense couldn’t really be blamed for a whole lot other than one play — a 28-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter from Case Keenum to Kenny Britt that made it 16-0 in the second quarter. Richard Sherman was uncharacteristically beaten on the play by Britt, and the Seahawk cornerback cited bad footwork.
Seattle wanted to hold down standout rookie running back Todd Gurley and did that well for three quarters. He had just 28 yards on nine carries entering the fourth quarter.
But Gurley got going in the fourth quarter to finish with 85 yards on 19 carries, and the Rams became the first team to rush for more than 100 yards against Seattle since Arizona had 117 on Nov. 15. Not coincidentally, that was Seattle’s last defeat.
The Seahawks didn’t create many problems in the backfield, as Keenum was never hit (though to be fair, the Rams did a lot of getting rid of the ball quickly averaging just 4.5 yards per pass attempt.)
It marked just the second time this season Seattle has not notched a sack.
The Seahawks also didn’t force a turnover, despite a late series when the Rams fumbled twice with Seattle unable to corral either.
The Seahawks kept their defense on the field against a few Rams punts, obviously wary of fakes from a team known for its trickery against Seattle.
But this was a mostly quiet day on special teams other than the back-and-forth between Seattle’s Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett and Rams punter Johnny Hekker after Hekker was penalized for a late hit on Avril after a punt early in the game.
The lone exception was a 21-yard punt return by Tavon Austin to the Seattle 28 that set up the Rams’ second touchdown.
Tyler Lockett had some decent returns but nothing that changed the game.