SEATTLE- The game played out like a disaster film come to life. Russell Okung and Kam Chancellor didn’t play due to a calf strain and pelvic injury. Soon after the game was underway, a fumble by Will Tukuafu led to a Rams recovery for a TD. Than, a concussion to Luke Wilson removed a key element in the run blocking game that was difficult to replace. A long TD reception for the Rams receiver Kenny Britt against Richard Sherman made it 16-0 with 6:43 to go in the 2nd quarter. A pair of failed Seattle challenges made the 1st and 3rd quarters even tougher to watch, and prevented them from challenging any plays in the rest of the game (and there were a couple that were highly questionable). As if that wasn’t enough bad luck for this game, a pair of botched snaps by Patrick Lewis gave the Rams more life. A fumble by Doug Baldwin (recovered by Jermaine Kearse) en route to the end zone showed up with less than :45 to go in the half. Seattle then failed to convert in the red zone, settling for a field goal. Seattle’s five game winning streak was snapped as they fell to the Rams, 23-17. It was, as head coach Pete Carroll said after the game, “A day we’d like to forget”.
Even with 4 more extra first downs, 107 more total yards, and one less punt, Seattle was unable to get out of its own way, racking up five penalties for almost 85 yards. This game looked like a re-dux of the first half of this season, with Wilson scrambling out of the pocket, and racking up four sacks, an interception, and a fumble lost. Wilson spent most of the contest running for his life, and was hit a season high 13 times. One of those times came on a 3rd quarter run, where Wilson’s knee and thigh met the helmet of more than one Rams defender. The run game never got established, with the leading rusher on the team being Russell Wilson with 38 yards. The next closest rusher? Fred Jackson, with 11 yards.
A 45 yard passing gain by Bryce Brown was negated off of Wilson passing the line of scrimmage and throwing a foot or two too late. Another 20+ yard gain by Christine Michael was negated by a clipping penalty on Seattle. A holding call on J.R. Sweezy nullified yet another huge 1st down conversion. After the penalties made it 3rd and 31 from the Seattle 42, Wilson found Baldwin deep, gaining 28 yards on the play, and then they successfully converted a 4th and 3 pass to Cooper Helfert. This would help get Seattle on the board, as a few plays later Wilson found Baldwin again in the end zone, this time with Baldwin being covered and trailed by three defensive backs with 8:23 to go in the 3rd Quarter. Wilson would also find Jermaine Kearse on a sit down 18 yard TD reception with :27 to go in the 4th Quarter. Those were the only scores for the ‘Hawks outside of a FG by Steven Haushcka.
Defensively, the Seahawks were able to contain St. Louis’ Todd Gurley to 83 yards off of 19 carries (4.3 yds./carry). Richard Sherman did get burned for a 28 yard TD pass by Kenny Britt in the 2nd Quarter, but prevented Tavon Austin from converting on a 25+ yard pass from Case Keenum in the 3rd Quarter (and forcing a three and out in the process). Jeremy Lane broke up another extra long pass play, and Keenum would finish the day with only 103 yards passing. Keenum was not sacked a single time in this game, and five of his downfield passes were defended by Seattle. The only lone score the Rams would get in the 4th quarter would be a rushing TD by Gurley, set up by one of two fumble recoveries by St. Louis center Tim Barnes. After fiercely fighting Earl Thomas for the first fumble recovery, Barnes would make a second clutch fumble recovery battling Jeremy Lane at the 1 yard line. Gurley leapt over Earl Thomas on the play, but DeShawn Shead tackled him and forced the fumble. Lane was unable to retrieve the ball, and Barne’s recovery greatly benefited the Rams with free forward progress. A few plays later, Gurley converted a 3rd and 2 for a TD to seal the Rams lead. Overall, 17 different players recorded one or more tackles, for over 50 total tackles in the game for Seattle’s Defense.
Take away one of those fumbles, and Seattle has a chance to tie the game or go ahead by 2 points. As the injuries piled up on both sides of the field, the ‘Hawks were still able to grind out a score with time fleeing away from them. It was by far their worst offensive performance in recent memory, but they proved they could at least bring the game back into manageable lengths after starting down 16 points.
Up next for the ‘Hawks is a road game against an Arizona Cardinals team that hasn’t lost since mid October to the third string QB Landry Jones ( of the Pittsburgh Steelers). The win loss ratio between these two teams is 17/16, in favor of Arizona. However, the Cardinals have not won at home versus the Hawks in two years. At this time last season (2014), Marshawn Lynch’s 79 yard TD ‘Beast-Quake’ run was only rivaled by Luke Willson’s spectacular 80 yard TD reception from Russell Wilson. This time around, neither player will suit up against the Cardinals, as Lynch is still in recovery from his abdominal surgery, and Willson remains sidelined with a concussion.
Also, Carson Palmer will be in at QB for the Cardinals, something he was not for the 2014 meeting versus the ‘Hawks. In 2013 though, he was sacked 7 times and completed 75% of his passes for 1 TD and 2 INTs. The Legion of Boom will need to contain the trio of Wide Receivers (Michael Floyd, John Brown, and Larry Fitzgerald) that have benefited from Palmers prolific passing attack, and the linebackers will seek to slow the meteoric ascent of David Johnson, the third string running back who is as versatile as a pass catcher as he is a runner.
In the last matchup between these two teams (Nov 15 at Century Link Field), Seattle’s defense made Arizona earn all 118 of their rushing yards off of 33 carries (3.5 yds./carry). The Seahawks were able to rush for 115 yards off of 18 carries (6.3 yds./carry). Once the Cardinals realized the boxes were going to be stacked against their star running back (at the time) Chris Johnson, Palmer took to the air, where the Cardinals passed for 334 yards, 110 more than Seattle was able to put up. Palmer was sacked 3 times in that contest, and Bobby Wagner took one of Palmers fumbles 22 yards back for a score. It was not enough to stop the Cardinals pace, along with Seattle’s offensive woes. They will need to contain or limit Arizona in both of these facets (and put up another multi TD outing on offense) if they are to have a shot at slowing the onslaught that Bruce Arian’s Cardinals are currently putting on the league, and the NFC West.