Here’s how the Seattle Seahawks grade out in their 17-16 loss to the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday at SoFi Stadium:
Seattle’s offense could have won the game in the first half when it embarked on three long scoring drives. However, the Seahawks had to settle for field goals on two of those, allowing the Rams to stay in contact. Quarterback Geno Smith had a good first half, but was struggling to move the team in the second half before getting knocked out of the game late in the third quarter because of an elbow injury, and back-up Drew Lock gained zero traction. Third down has been a problem for Seattle all year long, and after being good on third down in the first half the Seahawks converted just one in the second half. Smith deserves major credit for toughing it out, coming back into the game, and getting Seattle in position to try for a winning field goal.
Seattle’s defense was rock solid all day long — except in the moments when it was needed most. The Seahawks held the Rams to 267 yards, limited Rams quarterback Matt Stafford to a 70.6 passer rating, allowed Los Angeles to convert just two of its nine third downs, turned the Rams over on downs with a goal-line stand, and had Riq Woolen pick off a pass on a fleaflicker. However, the defense allowed a touchdown drive at the end of the first half, giving Los Angeles life at 13-7 in a game that had been completely dominated by Seattle. Then leading by two scores in the fourth quarter the defense first gave up a 74-yard touchdown drive, then a 75-yard field-goal drive that ended up winning it.
It seems wrong that this game ended on a missed Jason Myers field goal. Seattle’s kicker was already coming off an NFC Special Teams Player of the Week award, and he nailed three field goals Sunday, including two of 50-plus yards. However, he couldn’t make it a trifecta from deep as his attempt from 55 to win the game drifted just wide right. Punter Michael Dickson was tremendous on his first two punts, but merely human on his second two. DeeJay Dallas had a pair of quality punt returns. The Rams had one solid punt return, but Seattle’s coverage was otherwise good.
Penalties, penalties, penalties. No, those 130 yards of penalties aren’t all the responsibility of the coaches, but Seattle was already one of the most-penalized teams in the league, so it’s more than just a blip. Pete Carroll continued his switch to being aggressive on fourth-and-short, with the Seahawks converting on both their tries. Once again we saw creativity both in formations and personnel by Seattle’s offense early in the game. It would have been nice to see some designed short pass plays for Lock after he was forced to come in for Smith, giving him a chance to get some completions under his belt and get some kind of rhythm. Putting an injured Smith back into the game at the end was gutsy, but playing with fire.
This was a costly defeat for the Seahawks for several reasons. First, with San Francisco winning 27-14 against Tampa Bay, Seattle fell a game behind the 49ers at the top of the NFC West standings. Second, while it’s a good sign that Smith was able to come back into the game, the Seahawks still have a damaged starting quarterback, and we saw how dependent Seattle’s offense is on having Smith in the game. Smith wasn’t the only casualty, as No. 1 running back Kenneth Walker III left early in the game because of an oblique injury. Thursday’s Thanksgiving home game against San Francisco is looking like a season definer.
– Nick Patterson, Herald writer