The Seahawks used to be the team you could count on to engineer the Hollywood comeback. But this season, time and time again, they've come up one play short. The magic is gone, and the Seahawks are running out of time to fight for a playoff spot.

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LOS ANGELES — I remember when “down-by-seven” really meant “up-by-three” for the Seahawks.

I remember when the comeback was inevitable, the miracle was imminent, and the celebration was all but guaranteed.

The NFC championship game vs. the Packers. The Kam Chancellor strip vs. the Lions. The snap-flew-over-Russell-Wilson’s-head-but-whatever moment vs. the Vikings in the playoffs.

RAMS 36SEAHAWKS 31


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Those types of finishes seem to have vanished for the Seahawks. They may still have the fight, but they don’t have the pixie dust.

Sunday’s 36-31 loss to the Rams was the latest of example of Seattle holding a rabbit-less hat. Bigger underdogs than they’ve been in seven years, the Seahawks faced a 12-point deficit with 5:49 remaining and the ball 90 yards from the end zone.

Thirteen plays later, they cut L.A.’s lead to five. Four plays after that, they had the ball back on their own 29. Four plays after that, they had first and 10 from the Rams 35, with 35 seconds left on the clock.

Back in the day, this is when the Hollywood ending came along. It was as though the Seahawks had incriminating photos of the football gods.

Not Sunday, though. Not after a spiked ball and three straight incompletions from quarterback Russell Wilson.

Like Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and several of his teammates, Seattle defensive end Dion Jordan praised his team’s effort and expressed confidence in the future. But he was also clear about one thing.

“I’m over the moral victory thing.”

It’s hard to question the Seahawks’ resolve in each of their past three defeats, but it’s equally hard for fans to find solace in that.

The two-point loss to the Rams in October was perhaps their best showing of the year, but a late holding penalty followed by a failed stop on fourth down cost them a win. Their fourth quarter vs. the Chargers was perhaps their most resilient period of the season, but a false start from the 1 followed by a dropped pass in the end zone (on a tipped ball) cost them a chance for a game-tying two-point conversion.

And then there was Sunday, when defensive deficiencies offset offensive brilliance — when the final play came before the heroic one did.

“You guys used to be the team making the big plays and pulling it out in the end. What’s it like being on the other side?” Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner was asked.

“It sucks,” he responded. “I’ve been here for a while, and we’ve had a lot of these games where (we’ve won), and to be on the opposite side, it sucks. But I have the confidence that we can flip that around.”

There are a couple of ways to analyze Sunday’s loss, the first of which echoes that last sentence in Wagner’s quote.

Carroll opened his postgame news conference by saying how much he “loved that football game” and the tenacity with which his team played. He went on to emphasize how much he likes his chances against any team in the NFL.

Fair points. That wasn’t typical head-coach spin. Vegas said Seattle would lose by 10, yet it was 35 yards from stealing a W and catapulting itself back into the playoff hunt. Given the strides the Seahawks have made since their opening two games — when they were dealing with an overhauled roster and Earl Thomas contract drama — such optimism is understandable.

But there’s another way to analyze it — a way I’m guessing is more in tune with what the players are really thinking: That this season hasn’t been defined by what the Seahawks have almost done, but rather by what they haven’t done.

Obviously, there isn’t much time for them to dwell on this defeat. The Packers come to CenturyLink Field on Thursday night, and given how Seattle is 4-5, it could very well watch its playoff hopes disappear if it loses its third straight.

To avoid that, the Seahawks are going to rediscover their old selves.

“We just have to figure out how to finish at the end,” Seahawks receiver Tyler Lockett said.

There was a time when they didn’t need to figure that out — when it came as natural as breathing.

But due to that magic’s absence, this year’s Seahawks are down to their last breath.