The Seattle Seahawks will have a losing record for the first time in a decade.
With a 20-10 loss to the Los Angeles Rams on Tuesday night, the Seahawks guaranteed themselves to finish below .500 for the first time since going 7-9 in Pete Carroll's second season as head coach in 2021. It will be the first losing campaign in the 10-year career of quarterback Russell Wilson.
Tuesday's loss to the Rams had many of the same pitfalls for the Seahawks that they have experienced all season long: subpar play from their quarterback, an inability to convert third downs, losing the time of possession battle by a wide margin, and eventually seeing their defense unable to keep the dam from bursting.
And Cooper Kupp eventually took over the game for the Rams.
The Seahawks remain good enough to compete with just about any team in the NFL on a weekly basis. They no longer remain good enough to win those games regularly.
"We've underperformed," said defensive end Carlos Dunlap, who had three sacks against the Rams. "I've got very high expectations for me and my teammates. We all are holding ourselves accountable for our stake in how our season is going and we know we have every bit of ability to have a completely different season. But it hasn't shook up that way and today was tally in the column we did not want it in."
Here are the takeaways from a loss to the Rams that all but squashes any remaining postseason hopes for Seattle:
-- Russell Wilson has another off game when Seahawks needed a big performance.
With Tyler Lockett and a handful of other contributors out for Tuesday's game due to COVID-19, the Seahawks needed a standout performance from Russell Wilson against a team that typically gives Seattle fits.
Instead, Wilson completed just 17-of-31 passes for 156 yards with a late desperation interception. He also did not run the ball once during the game via scramble or designed run.
Wilson missed a potential home run shot to DK Metcalf in the fourth quarter, underthrowing his target by a significant margin to allow Jalen Ramsey to recover and make a play on the ball. Wilson was sacked three times on the night with at least two of the three coming from Wilson purely holding onto the ball too long in the pocket as well.
"We went 1-of-5 on third downs in the first half. That's not enough to get to get it rolling. We never got started," head coach Pete Carroll said of the offensive performance.
The Seahawks finished the game just 3-of-11 on third down. It's the eighth time in 13 games that the Seahawks have converted a third of their third downs (33.3 percent or less).
Wilson's struggles this season on third down have been one of the biggest reasons for those team-wide issues in those circumstances. Wilson has spent most of the season as the worst quarterback in the NFL from a completion percentage standpoint on third down. He had been completing a league-worst 35.1 percent of his passes through the team's loss to the Arizona Cardinals last month. In the last three weeks, those numbers have improved with Wilson no longer rating as the worst in those areas. He entered Tuesday's game having raised his completion percentage on third down to 47.7 percent, which is marginally better than Trevor Lawrence of the Jacksonville Jaguars (47.6) and Taysom Hill of the New Orleans Saints (42.9).
Wilson was 4-of-9 on third down for 25 yards with a sack and all three third down conversions coming through the air. His completion percentage has now dropped back behind Lawrence at 46.1 percent.
"It's definitely disappointing," Wilson said. "And I feel like this season we had some chances to win some games early on. We didn't unfortunately. I think in season's past, I felt like we've won those close games. ... I know that it’s disappointing, you know, the good thing is I think that we've always created such a high standard of playing and winning and we found ways to just win these close games. And this year, unfortunately, we weren't able to do it, you know and all I know is we got three more left and we're going to give everything we have.”
Wilson and the Seahawks have said for weeks now that his surgically-repaired finger is not an issue. If it's truly not an issue at all, then Wilson just isn't playing to the standard he's set through most of his first nine years in Seattle. They needed him to recapture his magic in Los Angeles and it once again was absent.
-- Seahawks defense continues to do its part even if the offense isn't holding up its end.
The Seahawks defense isn't the dominant force that it once was in the Legion of Boom era. But that being said, it has developed into a very nice unit that makes most of the plays they are supposed to make and finds a way to limit the points scored by their opponents.
And they've managed to do so despite playing at a significant time of possession disadvantage all season long.
Despite allowing 21 minutes of possession to the Rams in the first half, the defense held them to just three. Quandre Diggs came up with a timely interception in the red zone of Matthew Stafford and Jordyn Brooks had a key pass breakup on a fourth down attempt. They accomplished this by turning to, effectively, their sixth and seventh options at cornerback going back to training camp. D.J. Reed was out with COVID-19, Tre Brown is done for the year with a knee injury, Ahkello Witherspoon and Tre Flowers are no longer with the organization. With Sidney Jones starting at left cornerback, Bless Austin got the start on the right side with John Reid filling-in when Austin missed a few snaps. And they managed to keep most everything not named Kupp in check for the Rams.
"We played really hard tonight," Carroll said. "We were on it and had a chance to play with these guys throughout. There were some opportunities in there that we needed to go the other way and they didn't for one reason or another. There's a couple plays we could have made. We made a big mistake in the running game and gave them that big play on the scoring drive. We just made a mistake on the alignment and gave it to them. We played the running (game) great all night long. We felt like we kind of kept them under wraps, but we needed to score again and get ahead.
However, Kupp was able to have a big game again. He's been a force for the Rams all season with nine games of at least 100 yards receiving. He set the Rams franchise record for receptions in a season, passing Isaac Bruce's 119 from the 1995 season with his 6-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter.
-- This loss isn't on the officials, but they didn't help Seattle much either.
The Seahawks did not do enough to beat the Rams on Tuesday night on their own regardless of circumstances relating the officiating. But goodness if a couple calls that went against Seattle didn't help deliver crushing blows to the team's chances in the second half.
A missed pass interference call against Rams linebacker Ernest Jones and a weak defensive holding call against Bless Austin were among the calls that harmed Seattle the most.
Jones ran through Seattle running back DeeJay Dallas with the ball still in the air as the Seahawks attempted to convert a fourth-and-6 from midfield with 3:28 left to play. Russell Wilson was pressured quickly on the play by former University of Washington standout Greg Gaines and Wilson's throw for Dallas didn't have the steam to get all the way to its intended target. But as Dallas slowed up to play the ball, Jones made clearly early contact with him as the pass went incomplete to give the ball to the Rams.
Dallas was so incredulous about the lack of a flag on the play that he punted the loose ball off the turf. That decision brought a 15-yard penalty for Seattle that helped the Rams get a field goal to put the game out of reach.
Meanwhile, Austin was called for defensive holding on a third down play that resulted in a Seahawks stop deep in Rams territory. Austin pressed Kupp off the line of scrimmage but did not appear to grab the Rams receiver outside the allowed area. The penalty gave the Rams a first down and they would turn it into an 83-yard touchdown march with Kupp's second touchdown of the night giving the Rams a 17-10 lead.
Carroll wasn't putting the result on the missed calls that came their way.
"With the knucklehead penalty that DeeJay gets for kicking the ball... DeeJay is one of the great players on our team. Team guy, smart, in it. Great juice, great energy and he lost his composure for a flash of an instant and he kicks the ball right there. So it kind of distracted the focus from the call that was just made. I don't know," Carroll said. "Those guys make these calls when they make them. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don't. It happened quickly and it didn't look very good on the little replay that somebody showed me. I'm not belly-aching about that call. We needed to win the game in all the other ways we could win the game."
The no-call was horrendous. It was an obvious penalty and should have been called. Seattle also had Rashaad Penny false start on third-and-inches, making it a third-and-5 for Seattle before an awful run call to Penny lost them a yard on third down. That set up the fourth-and-6 Seattle needed to go for that didn't go their way.
But those calls aside, the Seahawks didn't do near enough to win on Tuesday night. They did plenty to be competitive but not enough to get a victory. That's the Seahawks 2021 season in a nutshell.
Photo Credit: INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 21: Jalen Ramsey #5 of the Los Angeles Rams breaks up a pass to DK Metcalf #14 of the Seattle Seahawks in the third quarter of the game at SoFi Stadium on December 21, 2021 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)