LOS ANGELES — When you’re 10-2 and still have a game against your chief division rival, you probably feel like you can afford an off night. Sunday, the Seahawks played with that exact mentality. Their 28-12 loss to the Rams was a study in lifelessness. If the Coliseum wasn’t blasting rap music between every play, they might have fallen asleep on the field.
Seriously, when is the last time you saw the Seahawks so comatose? Some NFL players load up on Toradol before a game, but they looked like they went with valium.
Three points from the offense through the first 56 minutes? Conversions on just two of their first nine third downs and a miss on an early fourth down? Dropped balls and a missed extra point?
It was like a symphony featuring scratched chalkboards, electric drills and a vuvuzela.
“This was a rough night for the Seahawks. We did not do what we planned to do at all,” said Seahawks coach Pete Carroll. “Without question, early in the game, they (the Rams) were controlling the tempo. We weren’t surprised by it, but it did take us a while to get settled down.”
The thing is — this was an important game. When the 49ers (11-2) beat the Saints (10-3) earlier in the day, the Seahawks had a clear road to the No. 1 seed in the NFC. It still might have required wins over Carolina, Arizona and San Francisco, but it was in their hands.
Then, they smothered them in butter.
Those first 30 minutes were indisputably the worst half Seattle has played all season. After a 39-yard field goal on their opening drive, the Seahawks went into hiding in front of the whole country.
The Rams responded with an eight-play, 75-yard touchdown drive on their next possession. They followed with a 12-play, 85-yard TD drive the next time they had the ball. They rounded out the half with a 10-play, 72-yard drive to go up 21-3 against a team that gave all the resistance of a finish-line ribbon.
“We gotta come out with better energy,” said Seahawks defensive back Quandre Diggs, whose two interceptions were the team’s lone bright spot. “I think that starts with us, it starts with the leaders, it starts with me.”
This loss can’t be characterized as a defensive disaster, though. If the D was as sharp as a plastic knife, the O was as sharp as a plastic straw.
Not since the opening game of the 2017 season has Seattle’s offense failed to score a touchdown. Diggs’ interception return at the start of the third quarter marked the only time the Seahawks found the end zone, and the other attempts weren’t even close.
Just once in 10 drives did they even get inside the 20, and that came when they trailed by 19 in the fourth quarter.
It wasn’t hard to diagnose the problem, either. Any time the Seahawks’ offense faced a critical play, they botched it like a group of Gilligans on the cusp of being rescued.
Third-and-two from their own 33? Chris Carson is stuffed at the 34. Fourth-and-one from the Rams’ 24 on the next drive? Malik Turner drops a pass from Russell Wilson. Third-and-seven from their own 23 the drive after that? Hollister drops a pass that would given Seattle a first down. If DJ Mal-Ski, who was in charge of the in-game music, had Benny Hill on his playlist, he’d have had plenty of opportunities to blast it.
Were you guys in the right frame of mind in that first half? Seahawks defensive lineman Jarran Reed was asked.
“I can’t answer for everybody, but for myself personally no,” he said. “I think we could have gotten it going just a little bit more.”
The top seed is still a possibility for the Seahawks (who also join the Packers at 10-3), but they will need some help. And they’ll likely have to win out to take the division, as the 49ers still loom.
As for Wilson’s MVP chances? They’re in critical condition. After finishing 22 of 36 for 245 yards and a pick, he was a JAQ (just another quarterback) for the fourth consecutive game.
If you’re a Seahawks fan, you’re hoping Sunday was just them puking after a 12-week party. After all, their success to this point was largely unexpected.
The Hawks have shown the country how good they are when they’re focused on the task. And they just showed themselves how bad they can be if they aren’t.