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Rost’s Seahawks Takeaways: The real head-scratcher from playoff exit

Seahawks HC Pete Carroll played a key role in a penalty that forced Seattle to punt. (Getty)

The Seahawks’ season fell far short of expectations with their 30-20 loss to the Los Angeles Rams in Saturday’s Wild Card round of the playoffs.

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This team faces plenty of questions moving forward, but before we look at those, let’s examine a few takeaways from Seattle’s final game.

This game was lost early

It’s rare to say that about a Pete Carroll team. They’ve made so many fourth quarter comebacks that betting against them never feels like a sure thing, but this pick-six was the early dagger.

The Rams’ defense is phenomenal; credit defensive coordinator Brandon Staley but also the unreal talent he has to work with in Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey. This defense helped secure a playoff spot for the Rams last week by adding defensive scores, which is why it was so important for Seattle to win the turnover battle on Saturday.

The Seahawks’ best chance to win was to take advantage of turnovers by LA’s offense and, more importantly, to do everything they could to avoid a scoring play by the Rams’ defense. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what happened. There was plenty of game left to play after that interception, but that’s where things started to unravel.

38 percent

That’s where the Seahawks finished the season in third down conversion percentage. That’s good for 27th in the league. Their Wild Card loss saw an even uglier rate: 14 percent. The Seahawks converted just twice on 14 total attempts.

Miraculously, the Seahawks have won a game before without converting on third down (they’ve actually done it twice). But that’s not winning football.

On Monday morning’s Pete Carroll Show, the head coach told 710 ESPN Seattle’s Danny and Gallant that he’d prefer to be closer to 45 or 48 percent, which would put them around the top five in the league. But that’s easier said than done, especially when the offense frequently found itself facing third-and-long situations.

I don’t think playing Jamal Adams was the wrong decision

It’s a fair question to ask, especially when Rams receiver Cooper Kupp took advantage of a banged-up Adams for a big gain. But Adams is so incredibly talented that even without being at full strength, he looks like one of the best players on the field.

This defense struggled as a whole at times, particularly against the run. But make no mistake: this was a winnable game for the Seahawks’ offense.

The real head-scratcher

Carroll holds that a controversial fourth quarter punt wasn’t the deciding factor in the game. To be fair, I don’t know that it was either, but that doesn’t make Seattle’s struggle with it less concerning.

Down 23-13 with 10:16 to play, running back Chris Carson was stuffed on third-and-1 from Seattle’s own 34. The question of whether to go for it on fourth down was an easy decision. Seattle would need two scoring drives to pull ahead. Credit to ESPN’s Brady Henderson for tracking this: Because of an injury timeout for right guard Damien Lewis, Seattle had 2:20 of real time to decide which play to run on fourth-and-1 (the play clock was stopped at 22 seconds). Carroll took some fault there, telling reporters that he held the offense up when he intervened to fight for a separate play call, but execution was also an issue.

“I wanted the play that we wound up with, so it just took a little bit longer and it forced the issue a bit,” Carroll said. “(But) we jumped offsides, we screwed it up. Would’ve been a nice job to make it. It wasn’t the wrong idea to have to kick it … We could’ve done better with the timing of it. We didn’t snap the ball on the cadence, so we screwed it up. I know you guys want to make a big deal out about it, but that was not the big factor in any of that. We did not execute the snap count. And so we blew our chance to make it.”

Myers stays perfect

Placekicker Jason Myers finished the season a perfect 24 for 24 on field goals. That included a career- and franchise-record 61-yarder, as well as successful attempts of 50 and 52 yards Saturday.

Follow Stacy Rost on Twitter.

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