The Seahawks held their own for three quarters in a shootout with the undefeated Rams on Sunday afternoon, but the result? Rams still undefeated, Seahawks fading away in NFC West race.
Show of hands: Before Sunday’s game at CenturyLink Field, did anyone think the Seahawks would go toe-to-toe with the undefeated Los Angeles Rams until the final seconds?
Few expected the Seahawks to hold their own against the Rams, much less match them score-for-score through most of what was an entertaining shootout. Seattle ultimately lost 33-31, and that puts a dagger into any hopes they may have harbored of contending for the NFC West.
The game also left many debating whether Pete Carroll made the right decision in calling a time out before the Rams’ fourth-and-1 play.
Here’s a look at what the national media is saying about a pivotal game in the NFC West.
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ESPN Analytics’ Brian Burke says the Rams’ decision to go for it on fourth-and-1 was mathematically sound.
“The Rams’ decision to go for it on 4th down to seal the win was the right call by a relatively large margin. They needed about 52% chance of conversion for it to be worth the risk, and league average rates in that situation are above 65%. In total, the decision to go rather than punt improved their chance of winning by 6 full percentage points.
ESPN.com’s Brady Henderson says there’s a silver lining to this defeat.
“The Seahawks should find some encouragement in their loss. The gap between them and the Rams doesn’t seem quite as wide as it did before they went toe-to-toe with the NFC’s last unbeaten team. Seattle can feel particularly good about how its running game — 190 yards against a tough defense — is finding its form after a slow start. “I’m thrilled about that because you can see it, you can tell what kind of team we are now,” Pete Carroll said of Seattle’s rushing success. “You know who we are and we know who we are, too. We’re just getting warmed up.”
CBS Sports’ John Breech gives the Seahawks a solid B+ despite the end result.
“This win wasn’t pretty, but the Rams took the Seahawks’ best punch on Sunday and they survived, which is all that matters in the NFL…. The Seahawks weren’t perfect, but they did arguably play their best offensive game of the season. Not only did the Seahawks have a 100-yard rusher for their third-straight game, but the offensive line actually did an adequate job of protecting Russell Wilson (for most teams in the NFL, adequate isn’t a good thing, but for the Seahawks it’s pretty much the most you can ask for). Wilson threw for 198 yards and three touchdowns. Of course, the big reason the Seahawks were able to stay alive is because they rushed for 190 yards as a team, including 116 from Chris Carson. Without Earl Thomas, the Seahawks surrendered 321 passing yards to Jared Goff.”
The New York Times’ Benjamin Hoffman hailed the Rams’ brilliance on that defining fourth-and-1 call.
“With 1 minute 39 seconds remaining in a hard-fought game, Coach Sean McVay of the Los Angeles Rams sent his offense out on a 4th-and-1 from the Los Angeles 42-yard line. The gamble paid off, as Jared Goff converted the first down, letting the Rams run out the clock in a 33-31 come-from-behind win over the Seattle Seahawks. … The Rams improved to 5-0 despite losing both Brandin Cooks and Cooper Kupp to possible concussions in the first half. They did it by putting the ball in the hands of Todd Gurley and letting their superstar running back carry them to the win, as he rumbled for three touchdowns in Seattle’s CenturyLink Field.”
SI.com’s Gary Gramling lauded that “sneaky Jared Goff” in the Rams’ win. He was also impressed by Seattle’s goal line defense early in the game.
“A fourth-down sneak in their own territory to clinch 5-0 with a win in Seattle. (I would have never forgiven Sean McVay if he punted there.) … (The Seahawks’ goal line defense) stopped Todd Gurley from inches out in the first half, forcing a field goal, and nearly foiled another first-and-goal from the 1 with a couple of stuffs before Gurley went in.”
And yet, somehow, Gramling points out, the Rams survived Seattle.
“They lost Brandin Cooks and Cooper Kupp to concussions, and Marcus Peters was as bad as it gets on the other side of the ball. To come away with a road win against the only team that could possibly push them in the NFC West shows just how good this team is.”
USA Today’s Nate Davis says the Rams proved their legitimacy.
“The Rams improved to 5-0 — the fifth team to score at least 30 points in each of the first five games of a season (three of the other four advanced to the Super Bowl) — by surviving the Seahawks 33-31. L.A. QB Jared Goff had his worst statistical outing of 2018, but his 2-yard sneak on fourth-and-1 from his own 42 with 99 seconds to go put the game on ice. Bold call by coach Sean McVay, especially in a venue as loud as CenturyLink Field.”
NFL.com’s Kevin Patra says this game showed how much the NFC West has changed.
” It’s a whole new world in the NFC West, where formerly stout defenses have given way to high-flying offenses churning out yards as easily as a mower cuts grass. In a back-and-forth offensive affair, the Seahawks and Rams traded punch for punch, score for score. Seattle put up points on five of its first seven drives. L.A. scored on six of nine, including three straight to open the second half. The rollercoaster tilt included five lead changes, 834 total yards, and 49 first downs. Seattle couldn’t get the one stop it needed on defense in the final two quarters. … Facing fourth-and-1 their own 42-yard line with 1:39 remaining, Sean McVay opted to play for the win, sending Jared Goff back onto the field for a QB sneak. The conversion allowed the Rams to salt away the victory without giving Russell Wilson a chance for another miraculous home comeback. It’s the type of gutsy decision not all coaches would make on their own side of the field. The aggressive style is also why the Rams remain undefeated. … When the Seahawks rushing attack is churning, it takes pressure off Wilson to work magic on his own. With the emergence of Moore as a legit target, the Seahawks offense should continue to improve deep into the season.”