BRANDON GUSTAFSON

What feels good and what doesn’t from Seahawks’ win over Rams

Dec 4, 2022, 5:14 PM

Seattle Seahawks...

Seahawks WR DK Metcalf celebrates his go-ahead touchdown with teammates Geno Smith and Tyler Lockett. (Photo by Chris Williams/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

(Photo by Chris Williams/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The Seahawks got a much-needed 27-23 win over the L.A. Rams on Sunday to snap a two-game losing streak and stay firmly in the playoff picture.

Instant Reaction: Geno leads winning drive, Seahawks beat Rams 27-23

This isn’t the same Rams team that won last year’s Super Bowl and has had the Seahawks’ number the last few seasons, though, with L.A. down three of its best players and entering the contest in last place in the NFC West.

We often hear in professional sports – especially the NFL – that there’s no such thing as a moral victory in defeat. You win or you lose, and that’s almost always the bottom line.

But what about the inverse? When you win in pretty ugly fashion in a game that shouldn’t have come down to the wire?

Well, the Seahawks won, so that’s obviously the focal point. But there were sure plenty of red flags and concerns in the game, too.

So let’s look at what the Seahawks – and their fans – can feel good about with this win, and what feels bad.

Let’s start positive, shall we?

What feels good

Geno Smith has his moment

As we’re all aware of by now, Geno Smith has had a fantastic year for the Seahawks. Much better than anyone expected in his first season as a starting quarterback in nearly a decade.

Smith has regularly been one of the top passers in terms of yards and touchdowns this season, and he’s been leading the NFL in completion percentage all season long.

And even with the Seahawks entering Sunday with a two-game losing streak, he still had them at 6-5 entering Sunday in a season in which many thought would land them one of the top picks in the NFL Draft. That latter part is still the case, but that’s due to the porous play of the Denver Broncos.

What Smith had been lacking this year, though, is something that often sets the best quarterbacks apart from the rest – a key game-winning drive late in a game.

Smith had his chances last week to have that big moment, but he and the offense stalled both at the end of the fourth quarter and in overtime in a loss to the Las Vegas Raiders.

This week, though, Smith got the ball with the Seahawks down three points with just under 3 minutes left in the game. He orchestrated a brilliant drive that saw him complete 6 of 9 passes for 65 yards, including the game-winning touchdown pass to DK Metcalf with 36 seconds left in the game. That put the Seahawks up 27-23, good enough for their seventh win of the year.

Smith has answered a lot of questions this season about his play, his ceiling and his ability to lead an offense, and he answered another big one this week by leading the charge late against a division foe.

DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett go off

Metcalf, as mentioned, caught the game-winning touchdown pass, and fellow star receiver Tyler Lockett also found the end zone. That duo did much more than score two touchdowns, though, combining for 17 catches and 255 yards, regularly connecting with Smith for big plays and first downs.

As we’ll get into later, this was a pretty ugly game for the Seahawks, and it’s one that they’re kind of lucky to walk away from with a victory. In those games where a lot of things go wrong, it’s always important to lean on your stars, which is what the Seahawks did on Sunday.

Lockett and Metcalf had nearly 70% of the Seahawks’ receiving yards and over 60% of Smith’s completions. The two were also essentially even in terms of production, with Lockett having nine receptions to Metcalf’s eight and outgaining his younger teammate by just a single yard (128 to 127).

Smith and the Seahawks are certainly lucky to have one of the league’s top receiver duos, and that was certainly the case against the Rams.

DK gets last laugh on Ramsey

Since entering the NFL in 2019, Metcalf has gone up against many of the game’s top cornerbacks, but the most intriguing and physical of those showdowns has been when he and Rams All-Pro Jalen Ramsey go head-to-head.

It’s no secret the two bring a little extra juice when they face off, as both have been flagged for going after the other since Ramsey joined the Rams in 2020. That happened again in Week 13 as things got chippy and Metcalf wound up getting flagged for a post-play altercation as the two lined up against each other.

But Metcalf was the last man standing not just as his Seahawks got the win, but as he caught the game-winning touchdown with Ramsey in man coverage.

That play will certainly be at the front of both stars’ minds the next time the Hawks and Rams face off, which is Week 18 in Seattle in the regular season finale.

Rookie record for Woolen

As we’ll get into momentarily, this wasn’t a particularly pretty day for the Seahawks on defense. But rookie cornerback Tariq Woolen continued to turn heads with his play.

The fifth-round pick recorded his sixth interception of the year, which set a new Seattle rookie record. It’s also the most interceptions by any Seahawks defender since fellow fifth-round pick and receiver-turned-corner Richard Sherman nabbed five picks back in 2013.

But the interception wasn’t all Woolen did as he recorded seven tackles, showed off ridiculous closing speed to break up a pass and then knocked down another pass on the Rams’ final drive.

Kid can ball.

Welcome back pass rush

The Seahawks have had their issues with the pass rush over the last three to four seasons, and in their two recent losses, that unit effectively disappeared as they had just one sack and five QB hits.

But the defensive front showed more life on Sunday, registering four sacks and nine QB hits with free-agent edge rusher Uchenna Nwosu leading the charge with two sacks and three QB hits.

What feels bad

Unfortunately, much of the same

Aside from an improved pass rush, many of the issues that caused the Seahawks to lose back-to-back games were issues again against the Rams.

The run game overall lacked for the third week in a row, though much of that was because rookie standout Kenneth Walker III left the game with an ankle injury. He had three carries for 36 yards but DeeJay Dallas and Tony Jones Jr. – both of whom were out with injuries at varying points in this game – combined for 51 yards on 17 carries.

Smith was sacked four times and hit eight more times after being hit 16 times and sacked six times in Seattle’s two recent losses. He also lost a fumble as a result of one of those four sacks. And this was all while the Rams were without three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year defensive tackle Aaron Donald wreaking havoc in the trenches.

But what likely stands out to Seahawks fans is that the run defense was again an area of concern.

After starting the year as one of the worst run defenses in football, the Seahawks turned things around in a big way. But after the Rams rushed for 171 yards on 33 carries (5.2 yards per rush) and two scores, the Seahawks’ three-game stretch in terms of defending the run is ugly, to say the least.

Between losses to Tampa Bay and Las Vegas and Sunday’s win over the Rams, the Seahawks have allowed 615 rushing yards on 117 carries (5.25 yards per carry) and five rushing touchdowns.

That’s got to stop, and fast, if the Seahawks want to make the playoffs and potentially make a run at a title.

This Rams team isn’t the real Rams

Donald wasn’t the only superstar missing for the Rams on Sunday.

Quarterback Matthew Stafford was again out of action, as was star receiver Cooper Kupp, who is out for the year.

Yes, Ramsey and former Hawks star linebacker Bobby Wagner played – and in Wagner’s case, played very well – but L.A. is a different beast when those other three guys are in the mix.

And that’s part of why the game was so frustrating for the Seahawks, who we’ve seen this year rise to the occasion numerous times and also take care of business against lesser opponents.

John Wolford is no Stafford, and no one on that Rams offense comes close to the talent level of Kupp from a receiving standpoint. This is also a Rams team that played their 12th different offensive line combination of the year against the Seahawks. It was their 12th game.

Again, it’s good – and very hard – to walk away from an NFL game with a win, but this is certainly one that shows the Seahawks still have plenty of work to do in order to reach their ceiling this season. And unfortunately, many of those issues are now definitively persistent.

Huard: What Seahawks are getting in new safety Johnathan Abram

Brandon Gustafson

Seattle Mariners Jorge Polanco...

Brandon Gustafson

Mariners are on pace to make MLB history — and not in a good way

After aiming to cut down on strikeouts, the Seattle Mariners are on a historically bad pace in that department this season.

3 months ago

Seattle Mariners...

Brandon Gustafson

Mariners struggle with new and similar problems in opening homestand

After a rocky 3-4 homestand to open the season, Brandon Gustafson dives into what's stood out for the Seattle Mariners to begin 2024.

4 months ago

Seattle Mariners George Kirby...

Brandon Gustafson

What’s the next step for Seattle Mariners’ George Kirby in 2024?

Scott Servais dove into what he's looking for from George Kirby in 2024 ahead of Kirby's first start of the year for the Seattle Mariners.

4 months ago

Seattle Mariners Mitch Haniger Dylan Moore...

Brandon Gustafson

Mariners Highs and Lows: What stands out from opening day loss

The Seattle Mariners fell to the Red Sox on opening day, and there were some takeaways – good and bad – to be had from the loss.

4 months ago

Seattle Mariners Julio Rodriguez...

Brandon Gustafson

Mariners Notebook: ‘Consistent pressure’ theme for lineup in 2024

Scott Servais expects big things from the Seattle Mariners' lineup in 2024, as he shared ahead of their opener against the Boston Red Sox.

4 months ago

Seattle Mariners Luke Raley...

Brandon Gustafson

Who 5 of Mariners’ biggest X-factors in 2024 are

The Seattle Mariners have starpower, but five other players can play key roles in the team's success in 2024, writes Brandon Gustafson.

5 months ago

What feels good and what doesn’t from Seahawks’ win over Rams