Here’s how the Seattle Seahawks grade out in their 30-20 wild-card playoff loss to the Los Angeles Rams on Saturday at Lumen Field:
Ugly, ugly, ugly. Quarterback Russell Wilson picked the wrong time to have his worst game of the season, as he completed just 41% of his passes and was intercepted for a touchdown. Wilson was under constant pressure as L.A.’s pass rush completely overwhelmed the Seahawks’ offensive line, sacking Wilson five times despite primarily rushing just four defenders. The two touchdown passes to DK Metcalf put a a little concealer on the face of this one. But there’s no disguising going just 2-for-14 on third down. Through the first half of the season Seattle’s offense was a steamroller, watching the regression through the second half was painful.
The defense wasn’t bad, but it couldn’t take advantage of the fact the Rams essentially played without a quarterback. Backup John Wolford started, but left injured in the first quarter. That meant starter Jared Goff, still recovering from a broken thumb on his throwing hand, had to play most of the game. Linebacker Bobby Wagner (15 tackles and a sack) had a stellar performance, and the Seahawks came up with some important stops in the fourth quarter as they tried to mount a miraculous comeback. But even without the threat of the pass, Seattle had no answer for L.A. running back Cam Akers (176 total yards).
Seattle’s special teams did so much well in this game. Kicker Jason Myers drilled two 50-plus-yard field goals. Punter Michael Dickson, after a couple early hiccups, kept booming long punts that pinned the Rams inside their own 10-yard line. And D.J. Reed’s 58-yard kickoff return to start the second half gave the Seahawks a much-needed spark. However, Reed’s fumbled punt return in the fourth quarter, following the questionable decision to field the ball off a bounce, was a fatal blow to Seattle’s comeback chances.
Somewhere Vince Lombardi is shaking his head. Give L.A.’s defense credit, it’s been tremendous all year. But Darious Williams being able to intercept a wide-receiver screen for a touchdown indicates the play was telegraphed; while it’s nice that Myers hit long field goals, a strong argument can be made that Seattle should have been going for it on fourth-and-short in those situations; there was an obvious failed challenge in the first half that took away a timeout that could have been used to get the ball back at the end of the half; and the dumpster fire of being unable to get a play off on fourth-and-1 in the fourth quarter — following an injury delay — is inexcusable.
It’s always tough for a team when it’s season ends. But Seattle just got knocked out at home, against a team it beat on that same field just two weeks earlier, against a team forced to use a quarterback just 12 days removed from surgery on his throwing thumb, and against a team that had its NFL Defensive Player of the Year candidate (defensive tackle Aaron Donald) sidelined most of the second half because of injury. There are no easy playoff games, but this is not the way to go out.