Another week with a final drive and a chance to win, another gut-wrenching loss.
What once was one of Seattle’s most consistent assets with Russell Wilson under center has, in 2018, become largely obsolete. Once again the inability to orchestrate a game-winning drive cost the Seahawks.
“I think when you have a lot of success in the fourth quarter and a lot of success winning late games, everyone believes,” Wilson said. “You’re not going to do it every time, but you are going to do it more times than not. … Last week was a tough one. We almost had it there at the end, too, and this week was a tough one, but we are right there.”
Trailing by two possessions against the NFC West-leading Los Angeles Rams with less than six minutes remaining, Seattle engineered a 3-minute-53-second scoring drive. Seattle’s defense forced a punt, giving Wilson 1:24 to go 75 yards for a winning touchdown. The Seahawks reached the Rams’ 35, but a fourth-and-10 pass sailed over Tyler Lockett’s head to seal Seattle’s fate.
Five weeks after suffering a two-point loss to Los Angeles at CenturyLink, the Seahawks fell 36-31 Sunday afternoon in the Los Angeles Coliseum, sending Seattle’s record to 1-5 in one-score games this season.
“We pretty much went nose-to-nose and battled it out,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “We just have to stay alive and keep this thing going and finish this year. We got a lot of games coming up at home. We got to make a surge here and see what we can do. I like our chances. I don’t care who it is or where it is.”
Despite the loss, Seattle (4-5) again ran the ball well, even with top running back Chris Carson and guard DJ Fluker inactive because of injuries.
The Seahawks ran for a season-best 273 yards, as rookie Rashaad Penny enjoyed a breakout game. The first-round selection led Seattle with 108 yards and a rushing score on 12 carries. Wilson ran for a season-high 92 yards, and Mike Davis accounted for 58 yards on 11 carries and caught a touchdown pass.
Penny’s 18-yard first quarter touchdown was the first of the career. He set up the score with a 38-yard run.
“Fantastic job by Rashaad,” Carroll said. “Great job by him to bust out. He looked great today, just like the guy we thought when we drafted him. … I was hoping he’d OVERSET FOLLOWS:get the chance one of these games to show it, and maybe from this point forward, you see him take off.”
Wilson was efficient, completing 17 of 26 passes for 176 yards and three touchdown. But for the second straight week, Seattle’s defense gave up big plays.
The Rams (9-1) averaged 7.1 yards per play, and three different receivers caught passes for 20-plus yards. Todd Gurley ran for 120 yards and a score on 16 carries, as Los Angeles totaled 456 yards of offense.
The NFC West rivals exchanged leads throughout. For the third time in the past four weeks, Seattle opened a game with a touchdown — an 8-yard TD pass from Wilson to tight end Nick Vannett. Seattle re-took the lead following a Los Angeles score when Penny found the end zone from 18 yards out, giving the Seahawks a 14-7 advantage with 3:42 to play in the first quarter.
A second-quarter Greg Zuerlein field goal and a 17-yard Gurley TD run gave Los Angeles a 17-14 halftime lead.
Wilson connected with Lockett on a 23-yard touchdown pass that gave Seattle a 21-20 lead with 4:20 remaining in the third quarter. The Rams responded with a 10-yard Tyler Higbee TD pass from Jared Goff and a Zuerlein field goal — a kick that put Los Angeles in front 29-24 with 7:34 to play.
The game’s momentum shifted the following drive when recently acquired pass rusher Dante Fowler beat Seahawks tackle Duane Brown and stripped sacked Wilson deep in Seattle’s end. The Rams recovered, and Brandin Cooks scored on a 9-yard run on the following play, giving Los Angeles a 36-24 advantage with 5:49 remaining.
Wilson responded with a 12-play, 90-yard drive that ended with a 3-yard touchdown pass to Davis, but after Seattle’s defense forced a three-and-out, Wilson couldn’t create any final-drive magic.
The Seahawks (4-5) fell under .500 as their playoff chances took a major hit. Seattle also has a quick turnaround, as it welcomes Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay for a Thursday night game at CenturyLink. Los Angeles (9-1) can clinch a division title with a Seattle loss next week and a win against Kansas City in what could be a potential Super Bowl preview in Mexico City.
Rashaad Penny, Seahawks — Penny had been unable to show this season why Seattle drafted him in the first round. The rookie out of San Diego State enjoyed a breakout game against the Rams. After averaging 2.8 yards per carry through nine weeks, Penny amassed a team-high 108 yards and a touchdown on just 12 carries. He looked explosive, getting loose for big gains of 38 and 17 yards.
Jared Goff, Rams — For the second time this year, Goff burned the Seahawks through the air. The third-year pro completed 28 of 39 passes for 318 yards and two touchdowns. He consistently found holes in Seattle’s secondary.
Aaron Donald, Rams — Russell Wilson said Donald is one of the best players he’s played against. Donald has made a habit of harassing Wilson, and Sunday was no different. The All-Pro accounted for 2 1/2 of Los Angeles’ four sacks and also recorded three tackles for loss.
Bobby Wagner, Seahawks — Todd Gurley got his, but Wagner was all over the field for the Seahawks. The middle linebacker recorded a game-high 13 total tackles, including 10 solos.
“I know you might not think this is what I would say right here, but I really loved that football game today. It was hard, it was tough, your ahead, your behind, your battling, you catch-up, you go ahead and you just keep fighting.” — Seahawks coach Pete Carroll
“They made a great play. Aaron was chasing me there. I was going to run it and didn’t think I could get it because someone was coming at me. Just trying to make a play before I got tackled. Just a couple inches too high.” — Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson on his fourth-and-10 throw on Seattle’s final drive.
“It was challenging, because you wanted to make sure that everybody is safe and sound and hopefully the people that had to get evacuated from their houses that they were still intact. That’s the important thing. As far as the modification of our preparation, I don’t think that affected our guys at all. I think they did a great job of adjusting and adapting.” — Los Angeles Rams coach Sean McVay on Rams’ unusual week because of the California wildfires.