In the NFL, any win is good. But the Seattle Seahawks’ Monday night performance against the Rams was not good. In fact, apart from a select few splash plays, it was downright bad.
The Seahawks’ biggest weaknesses were exposed and exploited — Seattle’s passing game and offensive tackles looked nothing like those of a playoff contender. After feasting on the Seahawks’ inept passing game, the previously 27th ranked St. Louis Rams defense made major improvements in the NFL’s pass defense and pass rush rankings.
Seattle’s passing game remained M.I.A., while the running game was unable to pick up the slack. This time, the vaunted Seahawks running game was unable to break through the Rams’ defense. The final score of 14 – 9 left the Seahawks smiling as they trotted off the Edward Jones Dome field. But for the Seahawks and their fans, those smiles were smiles of relief.
This game, against the undermanned Rams, had every opportunity to turn out to be a road loss.
The Seahawks’ defense won this game. Make no mistake, though. The Rams were one play away from stealing this victory from the double-digit-favored Seahawks. Had Greg (the leg) Zuerlein not atypically missed a normally makeable 50-yard field goal earlier in the fourth quarter, the final drive backup quarterback Kellen Clemons led as time expired would have almost certainly resulted in a game-ending chip shot field goal for the win.
As it happened, Zuerlein’s rare miss required the Rams to drive all the way to the end zone, a feat they could not accomplish. Their final drive stalled on the one-yard line, after starting on their own three-yard line.
For those of you scoring at home, that means the Rams, under the guidance of Clemons, drove 96 yards on the Seahawks defense with the game on the line.
Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson was under duress all night, suffering a career-high seven sacks. Three came from defensive end Robert Quinn and another three came from opposite defensive end Chris Long. Both Long and Quinn feasted — repeatedly — on backup offensive tackles Michael Bowie and Paul McQuistan.
The Seahawks basically had no answer for St. Louis’ pass rush. Curiously, even though it was clear the tackles in particular were overmatched, Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell did little to help out the blockers or scheme away effectively from the Rams’ relentless pass rush.
Normally, the Seahawks would dial up a heavy dose of Marshawn Lynch. On Monday night, no such magic was let loose. In fact, Lynch tallied a mere 23 yards on 8 carries.
The offensive momentum, as it turned out, became the responsibility of the Seahawks passing game. Therein lies the problem.
Not a passing grade
Seattle’s anemic passing attack took an even bigger step backward against the Rams. Whereas Seahawks receiver Golden Tate should be praised as the only scoring weapon the Seahawks offense could effectively deploy, he will be most remembered for his in-flight egogasm that resulted in a deserved taunting penalty on his 80-yard touchdown catch. Tate’s bush-league, harry-high school display of classlessness benefitted from the NFL’s curious rule that enforces taunting penalties on touchdown plays on the ensuing kickoff. Had Tate pulled that stunt in college, he would have cost the team a score. As it was, he nearly lost his sure touchdown by slowing up to showboat. He took a shot and a tumble as a result.
Tate’s singular grab aside, Seattle’s offense totaled a mere 91 net passing yards. For the entire game. That means out of Russell Wilson’s other nine completions, the Seahawks netted 11 yards. In total, the Seahawks tallied up only 135 total net offensive yards.
Hello Percy, goodbye Sidney
Help may be on the way in the expected return of Percy Harvin, but the news on Sidney Rice means Harvin’s return is now less “icing on the cake” and more “we need you now.” Rice suffered a torn ACL against the Rams and is lost for the rest of the season.
Seattle escaped St. Louis with a division win. That’s good. How they earned the win is not so good. The Seahawks’ two main weaknesses were effectively exploited by an outmanned opponent. Seattle’s future opponents have certainly taken notice.
The loss of Rice and the inability of the Seahawks’ coaching staff to effectively scheme away from their offensive deficiencies are reasons for concern. The expected returns of Harvin and tackles Russell Okung and Breno Giacomini now weigh heavily on Seattle’s chances for continued success.