What an unmitigated catastrophe. Under the bright lights of Sunday Night Football, the Seattle Seahawks lost a dreadful game to the Los Angeles Rams. And as bad as it was, losing the game itself was just the beginning of the bad news for the Seahawks, but there is a silver lining too.
With this loss, the Hawks ended their (way too) brief reign of the NFC West and dropped all the way from first to fifth in the NFC playoff standings. Furthermore, this win gave the Rams a new step on their own playoff run and kept hope alive in LA for at least one more week.
I don’t really want to talk about the Rams. Except to say that they played well on Sunday and fully earned the win. It wasn’t cheap. It wasn’t the refs. It wasn’t unfair. It was a better brand of football and the Rams deserved to win as a result. Not how I predicted or wanted it to go, but that’s what happened.
Now, let’s talk about how the Seahawks lost and why it matters so much.
First, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson had a bad game. Just a few short weeks ago Wilson was a league MVP frontrunner, but his recent sub-elite games have combined with Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson’s continued dominance against everyone, throwing the MVP race completely off its axis in-favor of the young superstar.
Wilson only completed 22 of 36 throws for 245 yards, one interception and zero touchdowns—hardly an MVP performance. Ultra-talented wide receivers Tyler Lockett and Josh Gordon were active but barely utilized. Even breakout rookie wideout D.K Metcalf struggled to get much going, leading the team with just 6 catches for 78 yards.
But it was the Hawks’ rushing attack that took the biggest hit on the day: Early in the first quarter, Seahawks backup running back Rashaad Penny took his recently elevated role and ran with it right into a torn ACL injury. He’s done for the season.
Defensively, the Hawks had flashes of success—including a pick-six by Quandre Diggs—but overall, the unit fell significantly short of expectations. Not one single sack was registered by the Seahawks, and like all NFL quarterbacks, when Jared Goff has time and protection, he’ll find an open target. And, wouldn’t you know it, he found both Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp in the endzone, as well as tight end Tyler Higbee for 116 yards.
So, that’s the how, but what’s the why? To me, it’s like the Hawks underestimated the Rams, looking past this game and not taking it as seriously as they should have. They’ll spend this week having conversations about how in the world that was allowed happen. And you better believe it won’t happen again.
There’s a version of this season’s story where this is the embarrassing, cold-bucket-of-water, reality-check moment the Seahawks needed to truly focus on the remaining games. Under lesser leadership, a team might crack under the pressure and desire for someone to blame. But with Wilson and head coach Pete Carrol at the helm, I think they’ll appreciate this for the wake-up call that it was.
Take each game as serious as the Super Bowl, because that’s what’s on the line. How so? Allow me to explain.
The Seahawks losing on Sunday is bad, but when it’s combined with the San Francisco 49ers winning over the New Orleans Saints (wow, I called that one wrong!), the ramifications for the NFC West division this weekend are so much worse.
Now with a record of 10-3, the Hawks will have to win their next two games to enter week 17 against the 49ers with a winner-take-all chance at the #1 seed. Should the Hawks drop either their week 15 game against the Carolina Panthers or their week 16 game against the Arizona Cardinals, they’ll need the 49ers to also lose a game to maintain that opportunity.
While the 49ers could take an unlikely loss to the Atlanta Falcons or the red-hot Rams, I’d much rather have the Seahawks control their own playoff destiny with wins instead of hoping another team benefits from them losing.
I still believe the Seahawks can and will reclaim the #1 seed and NFC West title on December 29th in what is quickly becoming a can’t-miss game. However, even if things don’t go according to plan and the Hawks enter the playoff schedule as the #5 seed, I’m confident they’ll take care of business on the road (something they’ve done well this year) and challenge to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl.
At this point, the Hawks must take each game as it comes, because each one offers meaningful consequences into the mindset, character, and talent on the team. They’ve played well in the past and not so well recently, but throughout it all, Wilson’s leadership is the guiding North Star by which the team sets its course.
As the Seahawks’ regular season winds down, there’s nothing left to except focus on your next contest and fight like hell to the last minute to win. And that’s something they’re historically great at doing. So, let’s do it some more. Go Hawks!