The Seahawks hope a 23-17 loss to the Rams on Sunday can be chalked up as a just another bad game against a team that always seems to give them fits.
It was a day when the Seahawks seemed to spend more time interfering with each other than blocking the St. Louis Rams.
A day when all of the good feeling from the sudden offensive explosion of the previous five weeks was washed away in a sea of penalties, botched snaps and head-scratching plays.
A day that ultimately, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said, “You want to forget.’’
Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson was hit 13 times Sunday by the Rams. Here’s a breakdown of the past seven weeks:
• Last two weeks (vs. Browns and Rams): 24 QB hits.
• Previous five weeks (vs. Cardinals, 49ers, Steelers, Vikings and Ravens): 25 QB hits.
The Seahawks hope it’s that simple, that a 23-17 defeat against the Rams on Sunday can be chalked up as just another bad game against a team that always seems to give them fits.
“Hopefully this isn’t a sign of anything, other than we have to put it behind us and get moving forward,’’ Carroll said of a game in which the Seahawks lost three turnovers, allowed Russell Wilson to get sacked four times and hit a season-high 13 times and had just one touchdown until scoring a second one with 17 seconds remaining.
It was the first time in 63 games the Seahawks hadn’t led at some point.
And it meant the Seahawks will enter the game Sunday at Arizona unsure of their playoff seeding.
Seattle will get either the No. 5 or No. 6 seed in the NFC and play at Green Bay, Minnesota or Washington on the weekend of Jan. 9-10 depending on the result of Seattle’s game at Arizona and Minnesota’s at Green Bay.
The Seahawks already had a playoff spot locked up but no chance of winning the NFC West, and that could be an obvious explanation for a performance as desultory as any in recent Seahawks history.
“They showed up today; we didn’t,’’ Seattle right tackle Garry Gilliam said.
That was an assessment echoed by a few others, though denied by Carroll, who said he didn’t think effort and motivation were issues.
“There was no sign in preparation,’’ Carroll said. “We had a great week.’’
But it was a bad day from the start, especially for a Seattle team that had averaged 35 points the previous six games and scored 29 or more in each one.
The Seahawks went three-and-out the first time they had the ball. On their second possession, a Will Tukuafu fumble was returned 45 yards for a touchdown by Akeem Ayers, a former UCLA star who was pretty much everywhere all day.
It never really got better.
“We rarely look like this,’’ Carroll said.
Still, some of what ailed the Seahawks has been seen before, especially the inability to keep the St. Louis defensive front seven from disrupting just about everything they wanted to do offensively.
The Rams consistently brought five rushers — though it often felt like tackle Aaron Donald was enough to wreak havoc against the Seahawks’ line — while playing Cover 2 in the secondary and mostly seemed unbothered by a Seattle running game still without Marshawn Lynch or Thomas Rawls (the latter out for the season, the former still uncertain when he will return).
The Seahawks were held below 100 yards rushing for the first time all season (and in fact, breaking a streak of 28 straight games rushing for 100 or more yards dating to last season), managing just 60 yards on 22 carries, 39 from Wilson, who seemed at times like he thought he had to take th running game into his own hands at the expense of his health.
“We didn’t block very well today,’’ Carroll said of a line that played without left tackle Russell Okung (calf injury) for the first time all season (he was replaced by Alvin Bailey though Carroll said later he wouldn’t say that was a reason for the offensive pratfall).
Christine Michael, whose redemptive 84 yards last week against Cleveland seemed to indicate maybe the Seahawks could survive without Lynch, was held to 6 yards on six carries with Bryce Brown managing just 9 yards on seven attempts (and again, while it’s tempting just to credit the Rams, six of their last seven opponents rushed for 111 or more yards).
Center Patrick Lewis, who said he apologized to his teammates for a few costly bad snaps, said the Rams “didn’t come out and do anything supernatural,’’ but added that for whatever reason the Seahawks were slow to adjust to whatever St. Louis did (though the maybe there was no adjusting to the way Donald and other Rams’ linemen simply overpowered the Seahawks throughout).
“There were probably a few times we could have adjusted a little better, but we didn’t,’’ Lewis said.
Wilson got up frighteningly slow after a few hits but said later he wasn’t hurt.
“It’s football, so you just keep battling,’’ Wilson said. “I was fine. I’m good to go.”
Still, this was the second consecutive game in which the Seahawks allowed a season high in quarterback hits (13 Sunday after the Browns hit him 11 times last week).
“He got hit pretty hard today, and it’s not very often we see that,’’ Carroll said.
Wilson seemed to fall prey to desperation at times, throwing a deep pass up for grabs in the second quarter that was picked off — his first interception since Nov. 15 — and choosing not to go out of bounds after a late run that resulted in a fumble that essentially ended the game.
The defense, though spotty at times, allowed just 207 yards, the fourth-lowest total of the season. But symbolic of the kind of day it was, it was one of Seattle’s best players, Richard Sherman, who made a basic mistake to allow a St. Louis touchdown, getting beaten by Kenny Britt for a 28-yard pass that made it 16-0 in the second quarter.
“Just bad footwork,’’ Sherman said. “I just didn’t get a good jam off the line and stepped under myself and made it easy (for Britt).’’
But it was a game lost largely on offense, with Seattle being held to just 4.7 yards per play. Maybe it really is just a Rams thing — that was the lowest total for the Seahawks since the season-opening defeat at St. Louis. Or maybe this was the day when all the injuries finally caught up to Seattle.
“This shows us that there are some things that we still need to correct,’’ receiver Doug Baldwin said.
|After the loss Sunday, with one game to go, the Seahawks have the last wild-card spot in the NFC. Six teams make the playoffs, with the four division winners seeded by record, followed by two wild-card teams.|
|1. Carolina||14-1||NFC South|
|2. Arizona||13-2||NFC West|
|3. Green Bay||10-5||NFC North|
|4. Washington||8-7||NFC East|
|5. Minnesota||10-5||Wild card|
|6. Seattle||9-6||Wild card|
|7. Atlanta||8-7||Not in|