Seahawks prove they’re still capable of beating themselves in 23-17 loss to St. Louis

Dec 27, 2015, 6:42 PM | Updated: 11:06 pm
Seattle’s O-line regressed Sunday, resulting in substantial pressure from the Rams on Russell...
Seattle's O-line regressed Sunday, resulting in substantial pressure from the Rams on Russell Wilson. (AP)
(AP)

For five weeks, the Seahawks played like a team capable of beating anyone in the playoffs.

In Sunday’s home finale, they showed they’re still more than capable of beating themselves.

And while a six-point defeat didn’t do anything to dash Seattle’s playoff hopes, it did make you wonder if the run of five straight victories was a hot streak against below-average defenses as opposed to a turning point.

Recap | Hawks’ mistakes | Line regresses | Bennett on Rams punter | Rams react

What became evident over the four rain-soaked quarters Seattle played against St. Louis on Sunday was that the one team most capable of sinking Seattle in the playoffs is the team these Seahawks see when they look in a mirror.

The Seahawks committed three turnovers against the Rams on Sunday, they were called for 10 penalties and couldn’t manage to recover either of the fumbles that St. Louis so courteously squirted their way in the final quarter of a 23-17 loss.

The Seahawks weren’t outgunned on Sunday. They couldn’t shoot straight, a fact best evidenced by a pair of errant snaps.

“Hopefully, this isn’t a sign of anything other than we’ve got to put it behind us and get moving forward,” coach Pete Carroll said. “We rarely look like this.”

At least not recently.

But for most of the first half, Seattle put on a performance that was reminiscent of its Week 10 loss to Arizona in which the Seahawks offense did more harm than good.

Seattle’s first five possessions vs. the Rams resulted in 29 yards of total offense and cost the team seven points as fullback Will Tukuafu’s fumble was returned for a touchdown. Throw in an interception by Russell Wilson – his first in 169 pass attempts – and the Seahawks were willing participants in digging the 16-point hole they were stuck in after Kenny Britt’s 28-yard touchdown catch with 6:43 left in the first half.

Yet from that point on in the game, Seattle gained 269 yards compared to 116 for St. Louis.

The Seahawks lapped the Rams in yardage over the final 35 minutes even with a backfield rotation of Bryce Brown, Christine Michael and Fred Jackson, not to mention Cooper Helfet as the only tight end available after Luke Willson left the game with a concussion.

Seattle lost for a reason that was much more fundamental, and in many ways more troubling. The Seahawks lost because the offensive line regressed to the form that slowed Seattle so much earlier in the season.

Quarterback Russell Wilson was getting hit with a frequency that was more reminiscent of October, and the running game became more of an oxymoron as the Seahawks were held to fewer than 100 yards rushing for the first time in 25 games.

“When we run the ball for 60 yards, we’re not on it,” Carroll said. “We’re in bad shape at the line of scrimmage.”

The Seahawks’ total of 60 yards was their lowest rushing performance in any game since Oct. 28, 2013 when they were held to 44 yards rushing, also by St. Louis.

On Sunday, the Seahawks sabotaged themselves. A clipping penalty against Alvin Bailey nullified a 16-yard run by Christine Michael in the third quarter. A holding penalty against J.R. Sweezy negated a 25-yard completion to Jermaine Kearse with just over 3 minutes to play.

Two plays later, Wilson ran the ball inside the St. Louis 10, but instead of stepping out of bounds he turned upfield believing he could get in the end zone. He was hit from behind by Eugene Sims, losing control of the ball just before he hit the ground.

It was the last mistake Seattle made on an afternoon filled with them, and after five weeks in which the Seahawks looked capable of beating any team in the league, they provided four quarters of evidence that they can still beat themselves, too.

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Seahawks prove they’re still capable of beating themselves in 23-17 loss to St. Louis