Losing a game to the Los Angeles Rams should not come as a surprise at this point to the Seattle Seahawks.
Whether they've been coached by Jeff Fisher or Sean McVay, the Rams have beaten the Seahawks in 10 of the last 14 games played between the two teams including the postseason.
Thursday night's loss to the Rams was a painful one on several fronts for Seattle. It's a game that they once again held a lead in before finding themselves unable to keep pace in the second half. And the Seahawks finished the game without starting quarterback Russell Wilson in the lineup after he injured his finger in the third quarter and had to be replaced with Geno Smith for the remainder of the contest.
The Seahawks defense played well for a while in holding the Rams to get three points in the first half before the dam burst once again with a big play barrage after the break.
Now the Seahawks are 2-3 through five weeks with an injured starting quarterback and a multi-game deficit in the NFC West division race. If not for a strong second half against the San Francisco 49ers last week, the Seahawks could easily beating sitting at 1-4 with their season in deep, deep trouble long before Halloween.
The season may still be in trouble. If the Seahawks can't get their issues fixed, it could be a long year for Seattle.
Here are the takeaways from the Seahawks' 26-17 loss to the Rams:
-- Russell Wilson's injured finger looms over mini-bye week ahead.
The focus coming out of Thursday night's game will fall on the injured finger sustained by Wilson in the third quarter. Wilson's hand impacted the hand of Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald on a deep pass attempt for Tyler Lockett. It appeared as though Wilson's middle finger on his throwing hand had dislocated at the second knuckle. Wilson needed a trainer to help him put the finger back in place before trying to continue the game.
However, Wilson would throw just one more pass on the four plays he was on the field after the injury. A screen pass to tight end Colby Parkinson was the only attempt before he gave way to Geno Smith for the rest of the contest.
Head coach Pete Carroll said after the game that Wilson had "a badly sprained finger" though he said he wasn't sure the extent of the issues either immediately after the game.
It was by far the most action Wilson has missed due to injury in his career. He missed one snap of significance in a 2016 game against the San Francisco 49ers when he injured he knee. He only played 46 snaps before giving way to Trevone Boykin for the rest of the game but that was in a blowout with the outcome long decided. He also missed one snap as part of a concussion check in Arizona in 2017 before returning to the field.
"He knew," Carroll said. "He knew it just wouldn't help us tonight."
Smith played quite well in Wilson's absence. In his most extended game action since making one start for the New York Giants in 2017 against the Oakland Raiders, Smith was decisive and confident in the pocket. He completed 10 of 17 passes for 131 yards with a touchdown and an interception. He led Seattle on a 98-yard touchdown drive in the fourth quarter to keep the team in the game. And the interception wasn't his fault either as Lockett clipped legs with Jordan Fuller and fell down, allowing safety Nick Scott to make the pick.
"Geno did a really good job," Carroll said. "Very much in command. We were able to do all kinds of things with him out there. He handled all of the communication beautifully and played really well."
Russell Wilson has started every game for the Seahawks since the end of the 2011 season. Tarvaris Jackson was the last quarterback to start for Seattle prior to Wilson's arrival through the 2012 NFL Draft.
Wilson and the Seahawks will have an extra few days to hope Wilson can get back before a Sunday Night Football start against the Pittsburgh Steelers next week.
"He'll do whatever he can to get back as soon as absolutely possible," Carroll said.
-- Something(s) stinks with the Seahawks defense.
"We've got s--- we need to fix and everyone knows that," safety Quandre Diggs said of the team's defensive showing after the loss to the Rams.
The Seahawks have allowed over 450 yards in each of the last four games and allowed 476 yards of offense to the Rams on Thursday night. Seattle is just the seventh team in NFL history to allow 450 yards in four consecutive games. They're are the fourth team to do so since the AFL-NFL merger. The 2011 Buffalo Bills, and the 2018 and 2019 Cincinnati Bengals have also fallen victim to such defensive destruction.
"There's stuff for us to fix, there's stuff for me to fix," Carroll said. "There's areas that just jumped out that when they're able to throw the ball over the middle like that they're getting too much time and we have to we have to better job of the (line)backers, we have to get to the quarterback so he has to dump the football off and that did not happen in the second half."
Given the way the defense played the first half of last season, it's not a great sign that history is repeating itself. The Seahawks were on pace to become the worst passing defense in league history by nearly 1,000 yards at the midseason mark with as poorly as they'd played on that side of the ball. They got things cleaned up and fixed last year to become a much more cohesive unit the second half of the season and avoid that distinction when all was said and done.
For this year's defense to look equally as vulnerable is a massive concern.
It does not fall on one individual though some individuals will bear more brunt than others. Jamal Adams was a part of two big plays, including a 68-yard pass to DeSean Jackson where he lost track of the ball in the air. He also was in coverage on tight end Tyler Higbee on a 13-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter that was completed without much trouble. Jordyn Brooks can look completely lost in zone coverage at times with crossing wide receivers getting open in his zones. A defense that plays with five defensive linemen often is far too susceptible to getting gashed in the running game.
-- Michael Dickson double punt was an incredible effort.
And because the first two topics have been serious and somewhat grim, we'll finish on a bit of a lighter note.
The double punt executed by Michael Dickson was one of the more incredible plays I've ever seen in person. To have a punt blocked, the awareness to track it down, the ability to pick the spinning ball up one-handed on a full run, and then execute a second punt and kick it successfully 68 yards downfield is absolutely stunning.
"That might have been one of the great plays I've ever seen a punter make," Carroll said. "Imagine one of the great kicking plays in the history of the league. I've never seen anything... I mean, I've been around a lot longer than you guys and I've seen a lot of football and I've never seen that happen before. And what a remarkable play it was. And not just to kick it again but to kick it where he kicked it and get so much out of it ... it was just a remarkable moment."
As the rule states, a ball can be kicked a second time provided it has not passed the line of scrimmage. The kicked ball absolutely did not cross the line as was deflected sideways by the block. However, Dickson did come incredibly close to passing the line of scrimmage before getting his second kick away.
The line of scrimmage was the 21-yard line. When Dickson kicks the ball, the ball appears to be beyond the line of scrimmage. However, it may be similar to the forward pass rule where the player needs to be entirely beyond the line of scrimmage for the ball to be deemed to have been thrown (or kicked it this case) from beyond the line of scrimmage. In that case, it was far closer that the play was legal.
The NFL Officiating twitter account said that it was a legal play as Dickson was deemed to have been behind the line of scrimmage.
Technicalities aside, it was just a brilliant play by Dickson and one few other punters could replicate.
Photo Credit: SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - OCTOBER 07: Quarterback Russell Wilson #3 of the Seattle Seahawks evades the tackle of linebacker Terrell Lewis #52 of the Los Angeles Rams in the second half at Lumen Field on October 07, 2021 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Lindsey Wasson/Getty Images)