Here’s how the Seattle Seahawks grade out in their 26-17 loss to the Los Angeles Rams on Thursday night at Lumen Field:
What a bizarre night for Seattle’s offense. The Seahawks moved the ball in the first half, but came away with just seven points because of an ill-advised play call on fourth down, a tip-drill interception and a missed chip-shot field goal. The offense slowed to a crawl in the second half, partly because quarterback Russell Wilson was dealing with a dislocated finger on his throwing hand. Then backup QB Geno Smith, who’s barely played in his three seasons behind Wilson, came into the game in the fourth quarter and led Seattle on two long scoring drives — though Smith’s magic ran out on Seattle’s last-gasp drive. Go figure.
Let’s get this out of the way: Seattle’s defense played well in the first half, holding the Rams to three points, and it got the stop it needed to give the ball back to Seattle with 2 minutes, 9 seconds remaining and the score 23-17. But in between? Ugh. Terrible coverage in giving up a 68-yard reception played a huge role in the 96-yard touchdown drive that gave L.A. a 9-7 lead. The Seahawks were knifed through again for an 82-yard TD drive that made it a two-score game. And after Smith’s dramatics made it 16-14 and whipped the crowd into a frenzy, the defense capitulated as the Rams answered by scoring with ease to quiet the crowd.
There were a lot of bad moments for Seattle’s special teams, from Jason Myers missing a 35-yard field goal at the end of the first half to blunt the Seahawks’ momentum, to Freddie Swain letting a punt bounce so it could be downed at the 2, to Michael Dickson having a punt blocked. However, it was almost all redeemed by Dickson’s miraculous play after the blocked punt, when he picked up the ball and kicked it again for a 68-yarder — a play for which there’s some debate on whether it should have been allowed. And as much as Seattle’s special teams struggled, the Rams had an even rougher time.
There were moments when Seattle’s play calling and clock management could be questioned, especially the call to run straight at Aaron Donald on fourth-and-2. Those questions in the second half, however, need to be viewed through the lens of Wilson’s injury. Credit the pass-protection scheme, as Seattle’s QBs had more time to throw than in recent memory when facing the Rams. But defensively Seattle never figured out how to slow receivers Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp, even with Rams QB Matthew Stafford dealing with a finger issue of his own, and one wonders if Seattle should have gone to a sixth defensive back more.
This one hurt in more ways than one. From a standings perspective, this puts the Seahawks in a hole as they’ll be at least two games behind both the Rams and Arizona in the NFL West race. The hope that the defense fixed itself last Sunday against San Francisco has evaporated. And now Seattle has to sweat on the status of its franchise quarterback, who hasn’t missed a start since entering the league in 2012. It’s a good thing the Seahawks have 10 days to recover from this one.