Seahawks’ offense is derailed by Rams in 23-17 loss

Dec 27, 2015, 4:56 PM | Updated: 11:00 pm
After scoring at least 30 points in four straight games, Seattle was held to 17 on Sunday. (AP)...
After scoring at least 30 points in four straight games, Seattle was held to 17 on Sunday. (AP)
(AP)

The Seahawks never did get a grip on this one.

That was true in the first half when Seattle fell behind the St. Louis Rams 16-0. It was true in the fourth quarter when Seattle failed to recover two St. Louis fumbles on the same drive.

It was true on a ground-ball snap midway through the fourth quarter, spoiling Seattle’s second-to-last possession of the game, and it was definitely true when Russell Wilson fumbled away the ball inside the 10-yard line with fewer than 3 minutes.

After all that, a last-minute touchdown catch by Seattle’s Jermaine Kearse didn’t affect anything but the final score of a 23-17 loss to St. Louis that the Seahawks had to feel just slipped through their fingers.

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The defeat won’t keep Seattle out of the playoffs. It will keep the Seahawks from entering the postseason as the league’s hottest team, though, ending a five-game win streak as a rain-soaked afternoon became a downright soggy evening.

Now, the Seahawks are 9-6 and left to clean up a sloppy performance from an offensive line, which seemed to take three steps backward with a slew of costly penalties and two botched snaps. It will also bring up doubts about whether Seattle has enough firepower entering the playoffs with Marshawn Lynch’s status still a question mark.

Seattle, which had scored 30 or more points in each of its four previous games, finished Sunday with 17 and nearly scored only 10, which would have been the lowest single-game output for Seattle since the Seahawks were beaten 17-10 at home in Week 16 back in 2013.

The Rams scored as many touchdowns on Sunday as they had in their previous five games in Seattle. It was St. Louis’ first victory in Seattle since 2004.

It was also Seattle’s third home loss this season. They lost two games at home in the previous three seasons combined.

The Seahawks weren’t blown out this game. In fact, they outgained St. Louis in terms of offensive yardage, and that’s what made it worse.

Seattle was beaten by the two turnovers it committed, the nine penalties called against the Seahawks and the touchdown that St. Louis’ defense scored on a first-quarter fumble.

Doug Baldwin caught a 25-yard touchdown in the third quarter, setting the franchise’s single-season record with 14 touchdown catches, but it was the only time Seattle reached the end zone before Kearse’s 18-yard touchdown catch with 17 seconds left.

The Seahawks’ attempt at an on-side kick went out of bounds, giving the Rams possession and the victory in a game that St. Louis tried to give away.

The Rams fumbled twice on their fourth-quarter touchdown drive. The Seahawks had a chance at recovering both. They didn’t come away with either one. First, Rams center Tim Barnes wrestled the ball away from safety Earl Thomas, giving St. Louis not only possession but a first down. Barnes ran downfield to recover another loose ball after Todd Gurley fumbled as he came down after hurdling Thomas.

Three plays later, Gurley scored on a 2-yard touchdown run that gave St. Louis a 23-10 lead with 10:34 left in the game.

That reestablished control of a game after Seattle seized the momentum to start the second half. The Seahawks executed an 11-play drive in which they overcame 30 yards worth of penalties against their offensive line not to mention a 10-yard sack of Wilson. Baldwin caught a pass to score their first touchdown.

It was an awakening of sorts. Seattle had 86 yards of total offense in the first two quarters and scored a total of three points. They had 82 yards of total offense on the opening drive of the third quarter and scored seven points.

The Seahawks trailed 16-0 with 6:43 left in the second quarter, having fumbled away the ball for only the seventh time this season.

Russell Wilson had also been picked off for the first time in six games, his second-down heave into double coverage intercepted in the second quarter.

And when Kenny Britt dove to catch a 26-yard touchdown pass behind Richard Sherman there was a silence in CenturyLink Field that hadn’t been heard since the first half of a Week 10 loss to Arizona.

The Seahawks trailed 19-0 in that game against Arizona. Seattle’s first four possessions had produced 23 yards of total offense, cost the Seahawks 50 yards in penalties and Seattle cost itself two points with a safety.

The first five possessions weren’t any better against St. Louis. Seattle gained 29 yards on those possessions, committed two turnovers and cost the team seven points – Will Tukuafu fumbled on the Seahawks’ second possession of the game and Rams’ linebacker Akeem Ayers picked up the loose ball and ran it back 46 yards for a touchdown.

The Rams scored just three touchdowns in the previous five games they played in Seattle. They had two in the first two periods alone as St. Louis took advantage of prohibitively good field position.

St. Louis started its field-goal drive at midfield, and began its lone touchdown drive of the first half at the Seattle 28 after a 21-yard punt return by the Rams’ Tavon Austin.

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Seahawks’ offense is derailed by Rams in 23-17 loss