But the Seahawks simply looked old, slow and beat up Sunday as the younger, faster, healthy Rams blew past them for a shocking 42-7 dismantling at CenturyLink Field.

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If, maybe, the temptation after a game that none of them could have envisioned was to forget it and quickly move onto the next task at hand, receiver Doug Baldwin asked his teammates not to do that.

Instead, Baldwin told the rest of the Seahawks as they gathered in the locker room after a shocking 42-7 defeat against the Los Angeles Rams that might well have decided the NFC West title that they had to try to get something out of their lost afternoon.

“I told them to let it burn and remember this feeling,’’ Baldwin said. “You’ve got to remember that emotion so that you learn from it. We can’t waste this. This loss can’t be in vain. We have to utilize this to the motivation of our players, the coaches, everybody to clean up our stuff and get ready for (the game next Sunday at) Dallas.’’

But if the desperate hope might be that this game will serve as a wake-up call, the reality too often Sunday felt like a team being put to sleep and out of its injury-filled misery.

Rams 42, Seahawks 7

 

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From start to finish, the Rams looked younger, faster, fresher, a team on the rise and eager to show that there is a new boss in the NFC West.

The Seahawks, meanwhile, looked like a shell of the team that has largely ruled the division the last half-decade, and even of the one that just two weeks ago beat the Philadelphia Eagles, who came into the game with the best record in the NFL.

There were good reasons for that — with four former Pro Bowlers sitting out (Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, Cliff Avril and K.J. Wright), and another playing hurt (middle linebacker Bobby Wagner) — Seattle’s defense was nothing at all like the one that allowed the fewest points in the NFL every year from 2012-15.

Defensive lineman Michael Bennett — one of the few vets left standing — said, “We are just a whole other team’’ from the one that beat the Rams in Los Angeles on Oct. 8, when only Avril was sidelined.

“It’s not like you’re losing just anybody,’’ Bennett said.

Maybe more surprising — if not alarming — was the way Seattle also was dominated on offense and special teams.

Seattle was held to a season-low 149 yards and didn’t move past the Rams’ 49-yard-line until the score was 40-0.

“It’s nice to have speed on defense,’’ said Rams coach Sean McVay in a quote that for the Seahawks might have been all too telling.

The Rams used two long punt returns to set up two first-half touchdowns — one from the 1-yard-line that gave Los Angeles a 13-0 first-quarter lead.

It added up to the largest defeat of the Pete Carroll era, surpassing a 41-7 defeat against the Giants in Seattle in the eighth game of the 2010 season … before anyone had ever heard of the Legion of Boom.

“We’ve not seen us play like that and seen that kind of result,’’ Carroll said. “So it’s on all of us to hold ourselves accountable. We didn’t do that right from any aspect of it.’’

It was shocking not just in the margin but also because of what was on the line.

With a victory, Seattle would have grabbed control of the NFC West due to having a tiebreaker advantage on the Rams.

Instead, the 8-6 Seahawks are now two games back of the Rams (10-4) and need to win each of their last two games while Los Angeles loses its final two games to take the division. Simply getting into the playoffs might be tricky at this point as other results around the NFC didn’t help the Seahawks’ cause.

Asked if the team seemed mentally prepared, Carroll said, “We were not right. (That’s) not the way we play. That’s why I’ve got to figure that out.’’

It was a disaster from the beginning with Tanner McEvoy fumbling the ball away on the third play following a 19-yard gain that would have given the Seahawks a first down.

The defense rose up to hold the Rams three times inside the 20 to either field goals, or once with a fourth-down interception, in the first half. But any hope was fleeting as the Rams simply had their way with Seattle throughout.

Most shocking was the Rams’ final touchdown of the first half, a 57-yard Todd Gurley run on third-and-20 when Los Angeles seemed willing to run the clock out. Instead, Gurley busted through a big hole (one that maybe a healthy Wagner, who got there late, might have closed) and was raising his arm in triumph by the time he got to about the 20.

Seattle players admitted being stunned at walking off the field and seeing a 34-0 halftime score.

“That wasn’t Seahawks ball,’’ said center Justin Britt, in his fourth year with Seattle. “That wasn’t anything like it’s been since I’ve been here.’’

Carroll said if he had to point to any specific issue it was Seattle’s run defense — Gurley had 144 yards in the first half.

“We tackled poorly,’’ he said.

But asked if there was any positive he could take out of the game, Carroll shook his head.

“I wasn’t happy with anything,’’ he said. “There was nothing about that game. We avoided getting shut out. We scored a touchdown. No, there was nothing to be happy about. That was a really dismal performance by us.’’

But if the game felt like the end of the season — if not an era — Carroll insisted otherwise.

Seattle will go to Dallas with a chance at both the division and a playoff spot remaining, and Carroll said that’s the hope the Seahawks will cling to this week.

“Everybody’s accountable,’’ he said. “Everybody has to take the step forward together and hold themselves in the kind of regard that we can pull out the best we have to offer down the stretch here. So, we’ll see if we can do that.’’

Worst home losses
The defeat Sunday against the Rams was the second-worst Seahawks loss at home in franchise history, by point differential.
Point differential Score Opponent Date
-38 41-3 N.Y. Jets Aug. 31, 1997
-35 42-7 L.A. Rams Dec. 17, 2017
-34 41-7 N.Y. Giants Nov. 7, 2010
-32 32-0 N.Y. Giants Oct. 18, 1981
-31 38-7 N.Y. Jets Nov. 2, 1986
-31 38-7 San Francisco Sept. 25, 1988
Source: pro-football-reference.com