Rost: It’s been that kind of year — Seahawks loss sees many of same issues

Dec 21, 2021, 8:53 PM | Updated: Dec 22, 2021, 11:51 am
Seahawks Russell Wilson...
Seahawks QB Russell Wilson unsuccessfully attempts to avoid a Von Miller sack Tuesday night. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

The first losing season of Russell Wilson’s career was cemented, fittingly, by an interception. It’s been that kind of year for the Seahawks and their franchise quarterback.

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Unlike last season, Wilson’s year hasn’t been marred by picks (he has just four so far), but he has endured some of the most inconsistent play of his career. There was the month he missed to heal his surgically repaired finger, of course, and that kind of context is important.

There have been outings where Wilson flashes the rare ability that made him one of the league’s highest-paid players. But, overwhelmingly, there has been a continuation of some of the issues that have plagued Seattle’s offense since midway through last season: third down failures, lackluster outings, uninspired screen plays, and more than a few errant throws.

Wilson saw another of those moments in Tuesday night’s 20-10 loss to the Rams when he missed wide receiver DK Metcalf on a badly underthrown ball in the fourth quarter. Metcalf had Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey beat and might’ve been able to secure a catch for a touchdown with no one in front of him and just yards shy of the end zone. Instead, the ball fell short enough for Ramsey to knock it away, sending with it Seattle’s hopes for an inspiring late-game drive.

Wilson said postgame it was a throw he wishes he could have back.

Seattle’s offense went 1 of 5 on third down in the first half for just 79 net yards. The Seahawks finished with 214 yards in an uneven day that was punctuated by a few bright spots: a touchdown from running back DeeJay Dallas, explosive plays by wide receiver Freddie Swain and tight end Gerald Everett. But ultimately, they finished an abysmal 3 of 11 on third down (27%), which was hardly enough to keep drives alive.

Wilson’s struggles certainly make offseason trade rumors more interesting. Wilson is one of the league’s premier passers and Seattle has enjoyed stability at quarterback for a decade in a league where some other franchises have led fruitless – often years long – efforts to find the sport’s most coveted commodity. But in the midst of his uneven year, the Seahawks’ front office will need to decide whether they believe the 33-year-old Wilson can bounce back from a down season. And conversely, Wilson will need to decide whether he wants to do so in Seattle.

Cooper Kupp overwhelms Seahawks defense

It was a better day for Seattle’s defense, who held the Rams to a field goal in the first half. Quandre Diggs, the team’s leader in interceptions, recorded his fifth pick of the season and second this year against Rams QB and his former Lions teammate Matthew Stafford, while defensive end Carlos Dunlap had three sacks. But Seattle couldn’t hold off the league’s top receiver.

Cooper Kupp finished with 136 yards and a pair of touchdowns, and the former Eastern Washington star accounted for the Rams’ three longest pass plays. Stafford didn’t need to beat Seattle over the top all day, though. The Rams’ offense was happy to move down the field by eating up yardage underneath. It’s been a formula that works for Seattle’s defense when they can get a stop in the red zone (in one of the year’s weirder stat combinations, the Seahawks are 32nd in yards allowed and fourth in scoring). On Tuesday, though, it was a backbreaking effort for a game in which Wilson and Seattle’s offense could only muster 10 points.

A controversial no-call

The Seahawks have had season-long issues that not only contributed to this loss but also long predated Tuesday’s game. Still, you’ll find no shortage of fans who will point to several controversial calls against Seattle as contributing factors (and considering how egregious the last one was, it’s a fair point to make). The officiating crew missed one particular defensive pass interference call in the fourth quarter that drew plenty of ire from players and Seahawks fans alike.

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll seemed hesitant to blame the referees after the game. Perhaps it’s a smart move to avoid a fine, or perhaps it’s the opinion of a head coach who believes his team can and should be playing better than they did Tuesday.

“I’m not bellyaching about that call,” Carroll said. “We need to win the game in all the other ways we can win the game.”

He’s right. An egregious no-call and a few other ticky-tack penalties might’ve cost them this game, but the Seahawks had other chances to win a contest that was tied by a field goal at the half, and they couldn’t seize them. There were missed throws by a franchise quarterback who should make those connections. There were too many yards surrendered to Kupp, who, while a rare talent, had his best game since Week 7.

And ultimately, there were too many of the same mistakes that have plagued this team all year long.

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