Why do we always struggle in St. Louis? It is a question that has bugged every Seahawks fan for years but I think our frustration has finally come to a head. After erasing an 11 point deficit to take a 7 point lead, only to see it disappear in the final minute of regulation, the Seahawks fell to the St. Louis Rams in overtime 34-31 after being stopped on 4th and 1. The Seahawks start the season 0-1 for the first time since 2012. The Rams start their season 1-0 and as of tonight are tied for first place in the NFC West with the Arizona Cardinals. You can pick your poison as to whom or what was the most to blame for our collapse this week. In this review I am going to take you through these different directions and share my opinions of each one.
Bevell’s Playcalling: It is a broken record that refuses to stop playing. There were several moments during Sunday’s game where I found myself angry about the playcalling by offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell. Like I pondered about in my game preview, the Seahawks did try to establish the running game early and they did adapt to take advantage of the Rams defensive weaknesses in the second half, however the play selection in the second half was very frustrating. More often than not it seemed like the Seahawks tried to throw the ball short on first down then run the ball for a short gain on second down, which set up numerous third down chances of at least 5 yards to gain. Due to the pressure on quarterback Russell Wilson the Seahawks threw many screen passes but they were largely ineffective. The play that overshadows all of this however was the final one; 4th down and 1 at the Rams 42-yard line. Out of the shotgun Wilson handed a draw to Marshawn Lynch who was stopped behind the line of scrimmage, clinching the win for St. Louis. You can make the argument that we should have thrown it but the skepticism around the final play can be equated to the final play of Super Bowl XLIX. What would people think if we decided to throw it on the final play today? The popular assumption would have been that Lynch would have easily run for a first down. The reality of the situation may make it extremely difficult to pin this loss on Bevell alone, but I cannot give him the benefit of the doubt anymore because of his long track record of calling questionable plays at the most pivotal of times.
The Offensive Line: To be honest I expected the offensive line to struggle and they did just that. Behind the line Marshawn Lynch ran 18 times for 73 yards. If you take away his longest run of the game (a 24 yarder in the fourth quarter), Lynch averaged a dismal 2.9 yards per carry. Russell Wilson was sacked 6 times and never looked comfortable inside the pocket. I have a very hard time analyzing the play of our offensive line strictly because of what unit they were going up against. I do not think it is fair to put the entire blame on this group because the Rams have arguably the best defensive line and linebackers in football. I honestly do not know if they were just too dominant for the Seahawks to handle, or if the Seahawks offensive line is truly as bad as they played on Sunday. Next week’s game in Green Bay will give us a clearer picture in regards to how good (or bad) our offensive line actually is.
Defensive Lapses: With the talent the Seahawks have on defense it should have been an expectation that we could force the Rams to punt after every third down and long. The Rams converted 54 percent of their third down chances. Of their 6 third down conversions, two of them were on 3rd and 15. These two conversions eventually led to 14 points. What was also absolutely horrifying was the number of big plays Seattle gave up. The Seahawks gave up a staggering eight plays of 21 yards or more, many of them being passes where Rams receivers were wide open. The Seahawks pride themselves on being able to take away the big play but that was not the case in this game. The Legion of Boom did not look right and you could tell they were flustered all day long.
Bailey’s Big Boo Boo: Given the ongoing Kam Chancellor holdout situation, it was my hope that strong safety Dion Bailey could go out and show the 12’s that he could be a serviceable replacement. He played what I would consider to be a decent game but all of that went out the window in the final minute of regulation. Bailey had one-on-one coverage with Rams tight end Lance Kendricks when Rams quarterback Nick Foles lofted a pass in Kendricks’s direction down the left sideline. Bailey tripped over himself and fell to the turf, leaving Kendricks wide open at the 5-yard line. The pass easily dropped into Kendricks’s bread basket and he practically walked into the endzone. The touchdown tied the game at 31-31. After scoring 18 unanswered points to take a late lead, all of our momentum was taken away on this play. Instead of making a stop to potentially win the game, we caved when we absolutely could not. I only have one question: As he sat on his couch watching Bailey fail to stop Kendricks on that play, what in the world is running through Kam Chancellor’s mind?
Hauschka’s Botched Kickoff: I guess it makes more sense after hearing Steven Hauschka’s explanation of his overtime kickoff but in real time I could not believe that Pete Carroll and special teams coordinator Brian Schneider elected to onside kick. After St. Louis won the toss to start the overtime period Hauschka appeared to go for the onside kick which was promptly recovered by the Rams at midfield. It was a ballsy decision that made no sense whatsoever given the circumstances. The Rams were given a short field and easily moved the ball into scoring range, setting up the eventual game-winning field goal. After the game Hauschka explained that he was trying to pooch kick the ball but his foot hit the ball wrong, causing it to travel only about 15 yards. It makes you wonder though, could the Seahawks have prevented St. Louis from scoring even if they had to start deep in Seattle territory? We played such a porous game that unfortunately I am not convinced.
Random Thoughts: It looked like there was no one in the upper deck of the Edward Jones Dome. The Rams claim they distributed just over 51,000 tickets for Sunday’s game but I wouldn’t be surprised if the actual attendance was somewhere between 30,000 and 35,000… There may be nothing better than being surprised at your place by a couple of your best friends and a giant greasy bag of McDonald’s breakfast. A big shout out to Alan and Jake for the meal and company… Hopefully that was the final game we ever play in St. Louis. At least we knocked out our game against the Rams at the Dome this early in the season… I miss the days when Russell Wilson wore Jos. A. Bank suits. Should have stuck with them instead of going to Calvin Klein… Yet another story was blown out of proportion by the national media following today’s game. After the game the Rams retweeted a Russell Wilson tweet from earlier this week. The content of the tweet is something Wilson always does. He posted “1-0” with the hashtag #GoHawks. To go 1-0 every week is always his mindset. It may be cliché but that’s all it is. A CLICHÉ. The national media twisted the tweet to make Wilson come off as cocky and arrogant, predicting a win prematurely and discounting the Rams ability to compete with the Seahawks. This makes my blood boil. To the Rams Twitter account, why don’t you win with class and take the high road instead of intentionally rubbing our loss in our faces? Retweeting this tweet stoops you down to 49er standards in my opinion. And to the national media, you should know by now what kind of player and person Russell Wilson is. Stop throwing s**t on the wall to see what sticks. These newfound accusations of Wilson being an arrogant player are examples of incredibly irresponsible reporting.
What’s Next: The Seahawks head back on the road next week as they take on the Green Bay Packers on Sunday Night Football. Check back next Saturday morning for my preview of next week’s game.