The Seahawks started off their 2015 NFL season with a loss at the home of their NFC West Division rivals, the St. Louis Rams, 34-31 in overtime on Sunday, September 13.
The ‘Hawks and the Rams both went three and out on their first drives, with Wilson and St. Louis Quarterback Nick Foles getting sacked or their players tackled for loss of yards. The Seattle Defense/Special Teams would showcase it’s prowess, with Wide Receiver Tyler Lockett taking a 57 yd. punt return all the way back for a touchdown to aide Seattle in an early 7-0 lead. St. Louis, chaired by Foles, would march right back down the field, with gains of 20/17 yds. to Tight End Jared Cook and carries by Running Back Benny Cunningham. Another St. Louis special teamer, Wide Receiver Tavon Austin, ran into the end zone to tie the game up at a single score a piece.
Offensively, the ‘Hawks started out slow, with Lynch’s carries not amounting to much, thanks to the Rams’ stout defensive line, that would keep Beast Mode contained for the majority of the game, except for one play where he would gain a clutch first down, with five St. Louis players holding onto him. Seattle risked a second three and out, but their drive was kept alive by a personal foul on the Rams. Wilson tried to make a mountain out of a mole hill, but ultimately three plays later, he would be intercepted by the Rams Corner Back Trumaine Johnson on a pass intended for Lynch. (He would later leave the game, diagnosed with a concussion) Even with a neutral zone infraction against the ‘Hawks on the Rams next drive, K.J. Wright and Bobby Wagner tag teamed to kept the pressure on St. Louis’s Benny Cunningham, and the Rams would settle for a field goal.
The offensive line, particularly the left side, was never truly in lockstep, submitting to the Rams sturdy defensive lines and matchups. Wilson would be sacked three times in the first half alone, and would be sacked six times by the game’s end. As if this wasn’t enough, rookie Seattle Center Drew Nowak made a number of snaps low, with one even so low, that Wilson recovered it from the ground, before making a play with milliseconds to go before a defender was on him. The pocket collapsed often, and while Wilson made some trademark runs to escape some tackles, it was the exception, more often than the rule.
Save for some early troubles, Wilson got into a rhythm, connecting with his trio of Wide outs in Kearse, Baldwin and Lockett, to allow Steven Hauschka the ability to kick Seattle in contention with the Rams field goal units. Of particular note, Wilson didn’t let incomplete passes or short carries drag him down, finding Jimmy Graham for his first regular season TD, on a back corner fade throw in the left side of the end zone. Lynch would get the two point conversion seconds later. Between Wilson and Hauschka, the offense was giving it a lot of oomph.
Defensively, it’s safe to say the Legion of Boom, even with its holdout star, is clearly gelling. Richard Sherman did he best to break up deep passes, which is St Louis’ Nick Foles specialty. He’s so good at his ‘kick-step’ and aggressive coverage, that all of the refs watching and commentating on the game (from outside the stadium) call pass interference, but the on field refs are unable to decipher his actions. Bruce Irvin recovered a fumble, thanks to the ever speedy (healthy, and active for the game) Earl Thomas III, who used his head to punch the football out of a runner’s hands. Cary Williams proved his merit, with a cornerback sneak that Foles did NOT see coming. The best part? Williams recovers the ball fumbled by Foles and brought it into the end zone for a score! Deon Bailey, filling in for SS Kam Chancellor, made a valiant effort, but aided by some errant turf, just barely missed completing a tackle on a 37 yd. bomb from Nick Foles to St. Louis’ Tight End Lance Kendricks, which would tie the Rams and the ‘Hawks at 31 points a piece. The turf would also cause Hauschka to miff on an intended squib kick, instead landing an onside kick that was recovered by St. Louis.
While the LOB was busy making characteristic LOB plays, the Defensive line ceded a ton of yards to STL, whether through the air (the average was well over 15 yds) or on the ground, with Benny Cunningham gaining 122 of the Rams 352 total yds. in the game, through both run and pass catching means. In the end, St. Louis’s defensive line proved to be too much for the ‘Hawks to contain or neutralize, and there is much work to be done to prepare for a week 16 showdown against their rivals again. Next, the ‘Hawks get the Packers, in Lambeau field. While it certainly looks a little grim, the ‘Hawks will have much to prove, after demonstrating resiliency at home vs the ‘Pack during the NFC championship game in OT, during the 2014 NFL season. Could we be in for more of the same this time next week? It is certainly a possibility, especially when you consider that Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril and Frank Clark are all consistently making opposing quartbacks lives rough as of the last five weeks, and K.J. Wright, Bobby Wagner and Cassius Marsh are quickly in season form stopping both run and passing attacks. GO HAWKS!