How did the Seahawks' position groups fare in their loss to the Los Angeles Rams? Bob Condotta evaluates what was a heartening effort but deflating defeat for Seattle.
LOS ANGELES — There wasn’t much doubt before Sunday. But a 36-31 loss to the Los Angeles Rams made it final that what Seattle has left this season is playing for the wild card.
And that means that the true tale of this year might be told in the next two weeks — a home game against Green Bay and a visit to Carolina, each team also competing for the wild card, each team currently ahead of Seattle in the NFC playoff picture.
So it won’t be easy.
But it never figured to be in a season many billed as rebuilding, but that the Seahawks insisted all along was just a retool.
What’s clear is that there was more evidence of a retool than a rebuild Sunday against the Rams. For want of a few plays here and there. ….
On to some grades.
Russell Wilson has put up better numbers. But he’s rarely put up more of a fight than he did Sunday when he stood in against the Rams rush (sacked four times) and threw three touchdown passes. He now has 21 touchdown passes on the season and now is tied with Brett Favre for the third most in his first seven seasons with 182 behind Dan Marino (220) and Peyton Manning (216) — while also running for a season-high 92 yards on nine carries.
“Just playing ball,’’ Wilson said of his rushing yards.
“Just an incredible game by Russ just to keep running and making things happen and keeping us in it,’’ said Seattle coach Pete Carroll.
No Chris Carson, no problem on this day. Finally, the kind of breakout game the Seahawks insisted rookie Rashaad Penny had in him, rushing for 108 yards on 12 carries. You could maybe argue he should have gotten more work but Seattle likely also trusted Mike Davis a little bit more in passing situations. Davis also ran hard with 58 yards on 11 carries — the Rams sure seemed to miss a lot of tackles — and had four receptions, though he also had one drop. But if the Seahawks were hoping to get much of anything from C.J. Prosise they didn’t, as he lost 3 yards on his only carry of the day and you wonder where he might fit in once J.D. McKissic comes back.
Seattle’s game plan, and what appeared to be an inability to get open, led to some low numbers for the receivers — only 11 combined receptions for 122 yards. But Tyler Lockett got his seventh touchdown of the season, a career-high and Doug Baldwin caught all five of his targets while also drawing a holding penalty on Marcus Peters.
Another decent day here with Nick Vannett catching his second touchdown of the season and Ed Dickson with a 24-yard catch and run to set up Seattle’s final score.
Second-year player Jordan Simmons got the surprise start at right guard in place of an injured D.J. Fluker. Despite going against the likes of Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh, he held his own, helping pave the way for Seattle’s 273 rushing yards and an offense that could hardly be blamed for the defeat.
But Germain Ifedi had two costly penalties and Duane Brown got beaten for the key third-down strip sack by Dante Fowler that led to the Rams’ touchdown in the fourth quarter, from which Seattle couldn’t recover.
The pass rush was just way too sporadic once again. Seattle had two sacks but just five quarterback hits and Jared Goff had plenty of time a bit too often to make some big throws.
The Seattle defensive line came up big on a couple of short-yardage situations, though, notably the two-point play.
And Jarran Reed had a huge play for a 6-yard tackle-for-loss on the Rams’ final possession.
Seattle again had all types of trouble stopping the crossing routes, though the tackling was at least better this time.
But some of that was undoubtedly due to continuing health issues for veteran weakside linebacker K.J. Wright, who couldn’t finish the game due to his troublesome knee. Seattle might have to consider its other options there while waiting for Mychal Kendricks to return in three games.
Bobby Wagner led all tacklers with 13.
That third-and-15 is unforgivable — which seemed likely a combination blame of the linebackers and secondary — even if Goff had all day to throw it. And the Rams just again had a knack for finding open spots in the zone. But Seattle tackled better than in the first game. Tedric Thompson had a key stop to force a field goal in the fourth quarter.
Michael Dickson’s punting was again a difference-maker for Seattle as he averaged 55 yards on three punts — all in the first half — and was a prime reason the Rams didn’t start any of their five first-half drives outside their own 25, starting at their own 21, 14 and 3 in the second quarter following punts. And Dickson had a good kickoff at the end to help pin the Rams back. Carroll said later Sebastian Janikowski’s onside kick was not executed properly. That the Rams only got a field goal out of it at least sort of felt like a moral victory.