BY Art Thiel 01:46AM 12/09/2019

Thiel: Seahawks look as bad as Rams 2 weeks ago

If you thought the 28-12 whipping by the Rams was grim for the Seahawks, imagine what Rams fans thought about LA’s 45-6 loss to the Ravens. It’s the NFL — whipsaws happen.

One of several missed opportunities: TE Jacob Hollister couldn’t stay in-bounds with this potential touchdown catch. / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest

For a good team, it was hard to imagine playing worse. Under-energized. Over-matched. Out-coached. Borderline helpless. They embarrassed themselves in a big national game.

But enough about the Los Angeles Rams. How about those Seahawks Sunday night on national TV at the Coliseum?

They were whipped soundly by the Rams, 28-12 (box). Two weeks earlier, the Rams were similarly pantsed, 45-6, by the Baltimore Ravens on Monday Night Football.

Sunday, it was hard to discern any lingering damage to the 8-5 Rams and their playoff chances from the humiliation, as they scored touchdowns on three of their first four possessions, and sacked Seattle QB Russell Wilson five times and hit him 11 more.

Such whipsaws are how the parity-encrusted NFL works.

Good teams can look bad on any given week. Just as the Rams failed to score an offensive touchdown against the Ravens, so did the Seahawks against the Rams. Sunday, Rams QB Jared Goff looked a whole lot better than two weeks ago, when many in the NFL world declared that his long-term contract was the worst deal since JaMarcus Russell’s.

The game meant far more to the Rams than the Seahawks, and both teams played like it. Having lost to the Seahawks in Seattle and having slipped to the cliff’s edge of the postseason at 6-5 following the Baltimore pounding, the Rams wanted this game in the sincerest way possible.


On the other hand, the Seahawks were gliding along on a five-game win streak, including a 37-30 triumph Monday night at home over a playoff-worthy Vikings team. Seattle was 10-2 and a bit of a darkhorse dandy among the chattering classes regarding the postseason. The players were feeling like no matter the early peril in a given game, they would find a way.

No, actually. They’re not that good. Even if was only the first road loss of the season.

Much has been made of the closeness of the Seahawks wins, suggesting that they may be as lucky as they are clever. There is something to that theory. Winning is insidious in how  it breeds comfort. To put it another way:

“We gotta come out with better energy,” said Quandre Diggs, the newcomer free safety who is as wise with words as he with deeds, which Sunday included two interceptions, one returned 55 yards for the Seahawks’ only TD.

It was not a matter of overlooking the Rams, an absurd notion. It’s a matter of underestimating how hard the NFL is from week to week, particularly when facing a team that already has had its public shaming.

Coach Pete Carroll hinted as much.

“They did a nice job on us early,” he said. “We weren’t surprised by it, but didn’t handle it as well as we’d like. It was too much of a surge in the first half that we weren’t able to overcome. Difficult night.”

The defense, missing starters DE Ziggy Ansah (neck stinger) and LB Mychal Kendricks (hamstring), seemed bewildered by the Rams’ misdirections, jet sweeps, up-tempo pace and formation trickerations that produced multitudes of open receivers. On their first possession, the Rams moved 75 yards in eight plays for a touchdown, followed by 12 plays and 83 yards for another score and 14-3 lead.

The Seahawks were virtually helpless to locate and track WR Robert Woods, who had seven receptions for 98 yards and two rushes for 29 yards. When the Rams took out another 10-play drive for a score in the final minute of the first half for a 21-3 lead, the Seahawks appeared as helpless as the Rams did when the Ravens were up 28-6 at the half two weeks ago.

“We didn’t make our (defensive) calls quickly enough,” Carroll said of the bafflement. “The first two drives were really well done by them.

“We just needed to keep moving and we just didn’t convert (third downs).”

The line was getting hammered by DT Aaron Donald and friends. Penetration blew up the ground game and had Wilson desperate to save his backside. It was the first game without a Seahawks offensive touchdown since 2017, when the Seattle lost the opener 17-9 to Green Bay, and only the sixth time in 125 starts that Wilson was TD-free.

Further complicating matters was the injury loss of RB Rashaad Penny after a 16-yard gain on a swing pass on his first and only play of the game.

Carroll described Penny’s sprained ACL as “significant.” It was a blow to a game plan that had begun to rely on Penny’s versatility. Third-string back C.J. Prosise was active and had one carry, but he’s had little practice as a between-the-tackles rusher, even fumbling an exchange with Wilson.

“We gotta quit getting hit in the backfield, for sure,” Carroll said. “Russ needs to get the ball out — whether to throw away or not — to help us a little. Their rush is as formidable as we face.”

Perpetually behind and needing to throw, Wilson took a considerable pounding, but would not admit that the walloping accounted for more than a scratch.

“I’m good,” he said, the same answer he would provide if he had five arrows protruding from his back. He finished 22 of 36 for 245 yards and a 69.8 passer rating that included a last-minute, end-zone interception of a Hail Mary — the Seahawks’ only turnover.

The pressure reduced the time Wilson had to unleash downfield. The Seahawks had only two completions longer than 20 yards and no rushes beyond 17 yards.  The absence of explosive plays was noted by WR Tyler Lockett, who had 43 yards on four catches.

“We haven’t been running plays to be explosive,” he said. “We’ve been running the ball to control the clock. We haven’t been trying to go in the path we normally have.”

Despite all the breakdowns, the Seahawks have some margin for error in the playoff pursuit. The loss dropped them to 10-3 and fifth spot among the NFC playoff seedings, and a game back of division-leading San Francisco, which had a spectacular 48-46 win over New Orleans Sunday.

But the Saints loss makes it possible for the Seahawks to control their fate. A win at cratering Carolina Sunday, followed by wins at home against Arizona and San Francisco to conclude the regular season would give the Seahawks the NFC’s top seed.

‘The interesting thing is, (the loss) doesn’t change anything for us,” Carroll said. “We had to win this game, and now we have to win the next one. We have to keep on rolling if we want to do anything with this season.”

If you saw nothing from the Seahawks Sunday that resembled what a top-seeded team looks like, wait a week. Or two. Or three.

It’s remarkable the therapeutic value in a dope-slap.

Rams coach Sean McVay pulls another win over Pete Carroll Sunday at the Coliseum. / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest

 


YourThoughts

  • DJ

    Thanks Art! What a helpless and humbling experience that game was. I think you nailed it though – the yesterday-mighty Rams did have a similar low.

    I always look at these controversial moments as learning points for this young team. There was too much shock amongst the juniors for the vets to calm them down and get over the hump – there weren’t enough timeouts available to regain composure, besides that the Seahawks game plan, if we ever really saw it unfold, needed to be scrapped. Good thing there’s a week for the reset, and a downtrodden Panthers team to face.

    It’s a shame about Penny – wish him the best for sure. Procise is not a between the tackles runner, and never will be. It’s still a wonder to me that he’s employed as such. I understand the rust which led to what we saw of him, but he’s less than capable of filling in for Carson or Penny than anyone else we’ve seen during his tenure. Too bad Mike Davis isn’t available after being let go by the Bears and claimed off waivers by Carolina. It’s spilled milk, but he was the better choice over Procise as a pounder.

    Lots of opportunity to grow and show in the next few weeks. Niners will be different than what we saw earlier though. TE Kittle, “The Beast” as we saw VS the Saints yesterday, was out last time. We need to have all hands on deck to have a chance in that game.

    GO HAWKS!

    • art thiel

      I think Travis Homer is going to get time Sunday. Prosise is mostly a third-down back. Penny could be done for the season.

      • DJ

        Travis Homer has been pretty exciting from what I’ve seen, and would provide a good rookie jolt of enthusiasm to the offense…..Prosise’s previous laurels are too far in the rear view mirror. Even on third downs he’s shown nothing close when he’s had the chance. Wonder how he is at returning kickoffs and punts….I guess we’ll wait and see

  • Mark Thurston

    Seems like things came together right on time right before the 49er game. But now health wise things are just a bit out of whack. . don’t imagine we’ll see a pass rush as good as that night until next season. . Clowney nursing an injury. . Ziggy walking wounded as well. . . the good news is we still have a shot with what we have left. . how they bounce back from this set back will write the narrative for the rest of the season. . .in this down year for the NFL things are still very much wide open

    • art thiel

      Every season, good teams have bad games. The bounce-back is critical, which is harder to do later because injuries and fatigue pile up. Carolina is large.

  • ReebHerb

    Russell Wilson continues to set a bad example for UW QBs. Despite the five sacks, he is still amazing spinning and popping out of extreme mayhem when the walls are down and the game is played in the castle keep. UW QBs you can’t do that. Don’t try.

    • art thiel

      I get your point, but some of need to spin is his fault for not unloading the ball quicker. It’s a persistent shortcoming in that he so wants every play to succeed that he can’t quit on it until after it’s too late,

  • ll9956

    Thanks for telling it like it is, Art. This was a stinker in all aspects for sure. Thrashings like this make it hard to picture the Hawks transforming themselves into a team that’s focused and ready to play. I hope they can do it.

    • art thiel

      Same was said about the Rams after the Ravens game.

  • Husky73

    Some days are diamonds, some days are stones. Sometimes the bad times won’t leave you alone. Sometime a cold wind blows a chill in my bones. Some days are diamonds, and someday are stones. (John Denver)

    • art thiel

      I thought you would go Jimmy Ruffin: What Becomes of the Broken Hearted.

      • Husky73

        Good choice. You never disappoint. Every NFL team takes an arse kicking or two (or more) during the season. The Seahawks were riding in the back of the cab: “It’s not your night, kid.”

  • Kevin Lynch

    The Niners continue to look better than the Hawks in common games. Not sure how much that matters but injuries definitely do and having Kittle out and Sanders not quite ‘in’ hurt S.F. when they played Seattle. Jimmy G. had 2 completions on 4 targets to Sanders that day. Yesterday, he had 13 completions on 17 targets to those two receivers and he looked like a completely different QB. His confidence level is way up from where it was playing the Hawks earlier in the season.

    • art thiel

      Presuming Kittle and Sanders are healthy, it will be a distinctly different game.

      • antirepug3

        Yup, and the Hawks better learn them some tight man coverage. Passing Kittle and Sanders off to the next level will be deadly.

  • woofer

    “The game meant far more to the Rams than the Seahawks, and both teams played like it.”

    End of story. The Rams are always a tough out for the Hawks. Hawks win against good teams when they get fired up for the game and they get a strong dose of Russell Wilson Magic. They got neither in this one.

  • Chris Alexander

    As ugly as Sunday’s loss to the Rams was, the Seahawks still control their own fate. If they win out then the worst they get is the #2 seed. They need another loss by New Orleans to end up as #1 since the Saints beat them in Week 3. UNLESS …. Green Bay also finishes strong (Bears at home, Vikings and Lions on the road).

    If there’s a 3-way tie with the Packers, Saints, and Seahawks all holding division crowns and 13-3 records then, per the online playoff machine, the Hawks would end up as the #1 seed with the Packers #2 and the Saints #3.

    Can’t overlook Carolina though. They’re having a rough season and recently fired their coach but …. “any given Sunday” ….

    Should be a nail-biting, heart-attack-inducing finish to the season.

    Go Hawks!!

  • antirepug3

    “…they may be as lucky as they are clever”

    The poker players philosophical quandary…”Would you rather be lucky or good?”