The Seahawks enter a long break between Week 5 and Week 6 in a very unfamiliar spot after losing to the Los Angeles Rams 26-17 on Thursday Night Football to fall to 2-3.
Seattle lost its star player in the second half and his status is unclear, which is new, while the defense allowed some huge plays and a lot of yards, which has been a major issue both in the last few years and in recent weeks.
The Seahawks had some major moments on both sides of the ball that contributed to a tough divisional loss to the Rams. Let’s get to it.
Hat tip to Geno
Before we get into the negative, no postgame takeaways column would be complete without talking about the play of backup quarterback Geno Smith, who came in after star QB Russell Wilson sprained his right middle finger while attempting a pass in the third quarter. When Wilson went down, the Seahawks were losing 16-7.
What did Smith do in three series? Well, in his first drive under center, the Seahawks started from their own 2-yard line. All Smith did was go 5 for 5 for 72 yards including a touchdown pass to DK Metcalf. He also rushed for six yards.
— Seattle Seahawks (@Seahawks) October 8, 2021
After the Rams answered with a touchdown drive of their own, Smith countered with a long field goal drive in his second possession.
The Seahawks came up with what was a rare second-half stop with just over two minutes left, and Smith had a chance to win the game with Seattle down six points. But on the first play of the drive, Tyler Lockett fell down and looked for a flag while Smith’s pass was intercepted by Nick Scott, giving the Rams the ball in Seattle territory. That set up Matt Gay to kick a game-sealing field goal to make it 26-17.
Smith didn’t do the unthinkable by leading Seattle to a late come-from-behind win, but he went 10 for 17 for 131 yards, a score and a pick that wasn’t his fault.
After the game, head coach Pete Carroll said there’s no timeline on Wilson’s injured finger and that it’s too early to rule out surgery. If the Seahawks do miss Wilson for any time going forward, Carroll isn’t worried about the drop off from the starter to the backup at quarterback.
“So proud of him. He looked great. He really looked good,” Carroll said of Smith. ” … He showed we’re in good hands.”
That definitely appears to be the case for Seattle. Smith’s play has to be a welcome sign for a Seahawks team that, for years now, has been the “Wilson Show” or “Wilson or Bust.”
If Smith is thrust into a starting role going forward for any length of time, that would start next week during a primetime road game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. It would be the first game missed by Wilson in his NFL career, which started in 2012.
Hawks come up empty before halftime
Two of the biggest plays of the game came on the same drive when the Seahawks were in business.
Up 7-3 with under a minute left in the first half, the Seahawks had a chance to take an even bigger lead, which would be especially key since they would start the second half with the ball.
It looked like Seattle was in a great spot entering halftime when Wilson found Tyler Lockett for a touchdown, but left tackle Duane Brown was flagged for holding. No biggie, right? Jason Myers was soon on for the field goal, and while he missed a field goal last week, he’s been Mr. Automatic since joining the team in 2019. Well, he pulled a 35-yard try, and while the Seahawks went into halftime with the lead, it wasn’t as big of a lead as they should have had.
That likely would have changed the complexion of the second half and game as a whole, even if Wilson still got injured. The Rams are a tough team to beat, especially when you leave points on the board, so coming up empty before the half was a major disappointment for the Seahawks on Thursday night.
Beginning of the end thanks to Jackson
Down 7-3 in their first drive of the second half, it looked like the Rams were again going to give the ball back to the Seahawks.
After picking up a first down, Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford threw two incomplete passes to bring up third-and-10. Stafford went deep for veteran speed guy DeSean Jackson, and while underthrown, Jackson came up with a big 68-yard catch-and-run that set up a Darrell Henderson touchdown rush, giving the Rams their first lead of the game. That was a lead that Los Angeles would hold the rest of the way.
STAFFORD 🚀 DESEAN JACKSON
Jackson: 25th career catch of 60+ yards 🤯
— PFF (@PFF) October 8, 2021
It was a play that really seemed to change the entire game, especially as it pertained to the Seahawks’ defense going up against the Rams’ offense.
Carroll said the Rams were “fortunate” to have a play like that because it wasn’t a play that looked like should have gone down as it did with Stafford underthrowing Jackson and the Seahawks having three guys near the ball, including safety Jamal Adams. And that “fortunate” play was the spark the Rams needed on offense, as they went on to score 23 points after that play after scoring just three in the first half.
That also led to a firestorm of yards for the Rams, who tallied just 175 yards and three points in the first half but wound up scoring 26 points with 476 total yards.
It was all Rams essentially the rest of the way after that play, and it put a damper on what was a pretty impressive first half by the Seahawks on defense.
The Seahawks have a lot of work to do on defense with the long break before Week 6 in Pittsburgh, and while there’s some positives such as the team holding the Rams to just 2 for 10 on third down, there are negatives as well. Those negatives are a lot of the same things they’ve had the last few years and last few weeks: easy completions over the middle, lack of a pass rush and allowing big, backbreaking plays in coverage.