Seahawks’ 3 Key Moments: What went wrong against the Rams?
Well Seahawks fans, that wasn’t pretty.
The Seahawks dropped a primetime divisional game to the Los Angeles Rams 28-12 on a night where not much went right for Seattle.
Seattle would have clinched a playoff spot with a win or tie and also would have held the NFC’s No. 1 seed with a win. Obviously, that didn’t happen, so the Seahawks are now the No. 5 seed and hold a wild card spot with three weeks to go.
So, what went wrong for the Seahawks in this critical game off a short week of practice?
While we normally identify three stars when the Seahawks come out on top. This time, we’re going to take a look at three key moments that attributed to the Seahawks’ third loss of the season.
Running back Todd Gurley repeatedly had some back-breaking runs, especially in short yardage. His 7-yard score in the fourth quarte effectively put the game on ice.
Both Malik Turner and Jacob Hollister had some killer drops that would have kept two different Seahawks drives alive. Both came early in the game and Turner’s was on fourth down, ending a drive, and Hollister’s, which was a little harder to bring in, was on third down and forced Seattle to punt.
The last drive of the first half looked promising, but a sack of Russell Wilson ended it and Seattle went to halftime down 21-3 rather than 21-6 or even 21-10.
Penny leaves with injury
While there’s no guarantee that running back Rashaad Penny would have been a major difference maker during this game, his recent stellar play and the offense’s inability to get anything going makes this stand out.
While fellow running back Chris Carson had a solid game given the circumstances – 15 carries for 76 yards and three catches for 15 yards – he’s not a threat to score a touchdown from anywhere on the field the way Penny is.
Penny, Seattle’s 2018 first-round pick, left the game with an injury on the Seahawks’ opening drive in the first quarter after catching a screen pass for 16 yards.
He was initially questionable to return with a knee injury but was quickly ruled out afterwards. During the game, he tweeted that he was thankful to the fans for words of support.
GOD makes no mistakes. Love you 12s . Thank you for the support💙💚
— Rashaad Penny (@pennyhendrixx) December 9, 2019
Penny had three touchdowns over the last two games and had more than 100 total yards in each contest. He was really coming into his own for the first time in his young career and he and Carson showed last week against the Minnesota Vikings that they can be a potent one-two punch.
After the game, head coach Pete Carroll said Penny has an ACL injury.
Pete Carroll says RB Rashaad Penny has a "significant" ACL sprain:
"We don't know how serious it is, but it's significant."
— Stacy Jo Rost (@StacyRost) December 9, 2019
Whether Penny is back this season or not, expect to see a lot more carries for Carson to close out the regular season.
Higbee’s first big snag
This play was notable not necessarily for the busted coverage, but for what would happen throughout the contest and what it may mean going forward.
In the first quarter, Rams tight end Tyler Higbee was the beneficiary of a miscommunication by the Seahawks on third down. He ended up gaining 33 yards and wasn’t downed until he reached the Seahawks’ 1-yard line. It was the second big miscommunication in the secondary in as many weeks.
Rams running back Malcom Brown punched it in for a touchdown on the very next play.
While there were no abundantly clear broken coverages the rest of the way for Seattle, Higbee was a problem for the Seattle defense.
When the Seahawks and Rams played in Week 5, Rams tight end Gerald Everett had seven catches for 136 yards. Everett was inactive for Sunday’s game, opening the door for Higbee to pick up where Everett left off.
Higbee finished the game with seven catches for 116 yards. He had just three catches that didn’t result in first downs and three receptions of over 20 yards.
Higbee paced the Rams in catches and targets (11) and was a huge factor in why the Rams were able to jump out to a 21-3 lead at halftime. His 33-yard catch in the third quarter got the Rams off of their 5-yard line and the drive ended with Gurley’s touchdown.
In the Seahawks’ final three games, they face a few tough tight ends in Carolina Panthers veteran Greg Olsen, who didn’t play Sunday with a concussion, and San Francisco tight end George Kittle, who had 67 yards and a touchdown in the 49ers’ win over the New Orleans Saints.
Kittle is considered the best tight end in the NFL by many and he missed the Week 10 game against the Seahawks. He will likely have a big role come Week 17.
Third quarter sack on third down
It was a toss-up between the two drops and the play I’m about to talk about here, but given the situation, I have to go with when Wilson was sacked on a promising drive in the third quarter.
The Seahawks finally had some momentum in the third quarter after a Quandre Diggs pick-6, which Diggs followed up with another interception on the very next drive. And on the next Rams possession, Rasheem Green blocked a field goal. Things were trending upward for the Seahawks, at least on one side of the ball.
The offense promptly moved the ball into Los Angeles territory, but on third-and-7 from the Rams’ 41-yard line, Los Angeles brought a blitz and Wilson was sacked for an 11-yard loss. The drive was killed, the Seahawks punted and scored just a field goal the rest of the way.
When Wilson was sacked, the Rams were up 21-9. A field goal cuts the lead to 12 and a touchdown makes it a one-score game at either 21-15, 21-16 or even 21-17.
The Rams had a quick three-and-out on their next drive, but the next time they got the ball, Gurley scored a touchdown and the game was effectively out of reach at that point.
A lot of things went wrong on offense, but this was a killer just because of the timing and situation.
The Seahawks will look to get back on track against the Carolina Panthers next Sunday, Dec. 15, in their final road game of the season. A win would give the Seahawks a franchise-record seventh road win on the year.