Seahawks’ offense takes step back in loss to Rams

SEATTLE — Was CenturyLink Field the site of an NFL football game Sunday afternoon? Or was it really a gigantic time machine that transported the 69,080 fans sitting in the stands 10 weeks into the past?

It sure looked like the Seattle Seahawks of early October on the field as opposed to the Seattle Seahawks of December.

Sunday’s game against the St. Louis Rams was a blast from the past for the Seahawks. But not in the retro 80s new wave sort of way, a sound that gets everyone on the dance floor during weddings. Instead it was more like the cheesy disco of the 70s, which only harkens the horrifying image of John Travolta in a leisure suit.

It was that sort of throwback day for the Seahawks’ offense.

Seattle’s offense spent the previous five games doing a different kind of time traveling, channeling its Sunday adversary from 15 years earlier, St. Louis’ “Greatest Show on Turf.” That’s when the Rams seemingly scored at will with a high-octane offense that carried St. Louis to the 2000 Super Bowl championship. Quarterback Russell Wilson and receiver Doug Baldwin were doing their best impersonations of Kurt Warner and Isaac Bruce, accomplishing things that were unique in NFL history. The Seahawks were blowing out opponents and emerging as the fashionable pick as Super Bowl favorites.

This was in stark contrast to how the offense looked early in the season. Seattle was largely stuck in second gear through the first half. Critics were ready to write off the offensive line experiment as a failure, as Wilson suffered 31 sacks through the first seven games and often found himself running for his life. Questions were raised weekly about the team’s inability to convert on third down or in the red zone.

Seattle turned a corner in its Week 11 victory over San Francisco. The much-maligned offensive line underwent a sudden transformation, giving Wilson the time to find a rhythm. Wilson proceeded to lead the Seahawks on a romp that saw Seattle average 444.8 yards and 34.2 points over a five-game stretch.

But on Sunday the Seahawks looked like the unfortunate Seattle of old. Wilson once again found himself constantly on the run. He was sacked four times and suffered 13 quarterback hits, numbers that weren’t even approached the previous five games. The player who so comfortably completed 74 percent of his passes the prior five weeks was forced to throw on the run from awkward positions as he was doggedly pursued by Rams rushers. Is it any wonder several of his passes sailed high and wide of his intended targets?

“I think we just had some bad plays in there all across the board,” said Wilson, disagreeing with the notion the game resembled those from the first part of the season. “It starts with me, just making sure that we’re doing the right things, making sure we’re on the same page and all of that.”

But weren’t those the same sort of words Wilson uttered following losses to Cincinnati and Carolina earlier in the season? And hadn’t the Seahawks supposedly solved the problem of not being on the same page? Even the postgame interviews provided a sense of deja vu.

It’s possible the Seahawks suffered an emotional letdown from having clinched a playoff berth a week earlier. Through nine games Seattle was 4-5 and in danger of being left behind in the playoff race. The Seahawks deserve credit for turning their season around with their exhilarating five-game winning streak, and it’s natural for a team to let up when it no longer faces a must-win situation. Indeed, the only thing Seattle had left to play for was whether it finished with the fifth or sixth seed in the NFC, hardly high stakes.

Yet Seattle head coach Pete Carroll was vehement that wasn’t the case.

“There was no sign in preparation, there was none of that,” Carroll said. “We had a great week. We’ll see what this means. We have to look at the film and figure it out. Why we had so many problems up front, I don’t know.”

The bigger worry for the Seahawks is whether the Rams exposed flaws in Seattle’s offense that potential playoff opponents could exploit. St. Louis regularly rushed five defenders when the Seahawks passed, putting Wilson under the type of pressure he hadn’t seen since Week 7. Seattle, at least on this day, had no answer.

Not every team has the talent on the defensive line St. Louis possesses. But it’s telling that it wasn’t Pro Bowler Aaron Donald or first-round picks Michael Brockers or Chris Long who did the heavy damage. It was the unheralded William Hayes, filling in for the injured Robert Quinn, who finished with three sacks and six quarterback hits.

“You win some, you learn some,” Baldwin said about the loss. “We’ll take this time to look at the film and get better. Some people can say it’s a bad thing that we lost. I like to look at the positive in everything. This shows us that there are some things we still need to correct. I’m glad we did it now during the regular season than in the playoffs.”

And hopefully for the Seahawks’ sake, that time machine will bring Seattle’s offense back to the present instead of leaving it stranded in the past.

Check out Nick Patterson’s Seattle Sidelines blog at, and follow him on Twitter at @NickHPatterson.

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