He finished 9-of-18 for 59 yards, the worst game of Russell Wilson's career by far, and the Seahawks lost to the Rams to fall back into the NFC pile and be left with concerns that by the time Russell Okung returns, it will be too late to get the number one seed.
Of course, those weren't Wilson's final stats and Seattle did beat St. Louis by a score of 14-9, but if it weren't for one play to Golden Tate that's how different things could be. Just one play.
Of course, no games are decided on just one play. And no incomplete stat line tells a complete story.
Had Janoris Jenkins intercepted that pass intended for Tate, and Jenkins led the NFL in defensive touchdowns last season with four, the Rams most likely would have won this game. Wilson's 3.47 yards per attempt on his 17 other passes is pretty much the lowest number you're likely to see over his entire career by the time it's all said and done, and even his pass to Tate was short of the intended target.
Of course, a quarterback is only responsible for a part of his performance. The Seahawks probably have the worst offensive line in the NFL right now. Defensive ends Chris Long (came in with 2.5 sacks on the whole season) and Robert Quinn each had three sacks and with protection like that, the offense stood no chance. Of course they needed one lucky play to win this.
If I was writing for Turf Show Times, I would be even more complexed on how to write about this game. The Rams just played their best game of the season in many ways. They had 23 first downs (season high is 24) and allowed only seven first downs. St. Louis ran 68 offensive plays compared to the Seahawks 33. The Rams had run for over 100 yards as a team just once this year, with a high of 143, and against Seattle they rushed for 200 yards. Zac Stacy looked like a player that gives hope for the future of the position, Daryl Richardson played well, and we can shove it in that idiot Kenneth Arthur's face that we shut down poster boy Wilson. But despite all of that, the Rams lost.
Of course they did.
Seattle didn't improve to 7-1 only because of one 80-yard pass to Tate, but an amalgamation of "of course's."
St. Louis had to run with Kellen Clemens instead of Sam Bradford, and leading 3-0 at the end of the first quarter with 1st-and-10 at the Seattle 40, Clemens threw an interception to kill the drive. Of course he did.
With a 1st-and-20 in the second quarter, Clemens tried to make up a lot of ground with a deep pass intended for Austin Pettis, but it was inaccurate and almost seemed to surprise Richard Sherman with how in his basket it was. The Seahawks would struggle on offense all night long, but they only had to go 26 yards to score a touchdown to Tate and go up 7-3. If you lose the turnover battle 2 to 0, as the Rams did, of course you're going to struggle to win.
Greg Zuerlein, one of the best kickers in the NFL, had a chance to cut the lead to two but he missed a 50-yard attempt, his first miss of the season. Of co- Okay, not everything is explainable. But if you're starting Clemens against the Seattle defense and you miss opportunities like that, of course you're going to pay for them. Had he made that field goal, there seems a good chance they would have had an opportunity to win the game at the end of regulation, or near it.
Finally, at the end of the game, St. Louis had one last chance to win the game. They had pounded the ball successfully on the ground all night against the Seahawks, they were one yard shy of a win, but with Stacy injured and Richardson stuffed on the previous play, they opted to empty the backfield and go five wide against the best secondary in the league in an area that's only the size of the end zone, and they were unsuccessful. Of course they were.
You can look at this game and see a lot of things that Seattle was unsuccessful at, you could point to the yardage and the box score domination and the offensive line and say that the Seahawks looked bad, but you'd be missing the bigger picture. That a bad team would have lost by 30 points on the road to a division opponent if they played that poorly on the offensive line and in rush defense, but a good team wins by five because football games also involve turnovers, QB play, special teams, and big plays. The Seahawks beat the Rams.
Let's make like a point and bullet.
- Despite everything, Wilson had a QB rating over 117 and pushed his overall season QB rating to 99. His career QB rating is now 99.7 over 24 games. Only four quarterbacks have posted a QB rating of 95 or better over their first two seasons with a minimum of 500 attempts: Kurt Warner (104.7), Dan Marino (104.5), Wilson, and Ben Roethlisberger (98.3.) Believe it or not, even though he's only played in a season and a half, those are basically the same number of games as the other guys.
Warner played in 27 games over his first two years, so did Marino, Roethlisberger played in 26.
Kurt Warner had Orlando Pace, Marshall Faulk, Torry Holt, and Isaac Bruce. Of course he was great.
- When we look at the 2012 draft, it's easy to forget who our first round pick was. With such important performances thus far from Wilson and Bobby Wagner, remember how we traded down in the first and took Bruce Irvin?
Well, the guy that was suspended for four games to start the year and has quietly re-acclimated himself back into the rotation over the last few weeks, might just be the NFC Defensive Player of the Week. Irvin had an interception, a sack, and a forced fumble against the Rams. When he made the interception it looked very weird because I don't think I've ever seen a player that big make an interception that far from the line of scrimmage, and then he actually didn't look weird running it back.
As noted last week in my advanced stats post, Irvin led the team with 5 Successful Plays against the Cardinals, per AdvancedNFLStats. He had seven such plays on Monday night.
- Sidney Rice's poor season is what it is, but when you have a game where only one player has more than 16 receiving yards, losing a player like Rice is important. He's still the only guy on the team that can really do what he does and that won't be replaced when Percy Harvin returns.
Rice suffered a knee injury and also concussion-like symptoms, something that was an issue for him in 2011. It seems like after playing in 24 straight games, something unheard of from Rice, he's going to be out at least this week against the Buccaneers.
- And just when it seemed like Doug Baldwin was going to replace the production of Rice, he has two catches for 28 yards over the last two games. The offense might not be designed for players to get 100 yards, but it at least needs to be designed for one of your top players to get at least 40 yards.
- As far as Marshawn Lynch's game is concerned, anything can happen in eight carries. When you have a guy rush for 150 yards, it's typically going to come on 30 carries or so. If Adrian Peterson rushes for 180 yards in a game, it's entirely possible that 80 of those came on one carry, 40 on another, 25 on another, and 35 yards on 25 other carries.
When you rush it eight times, 23 yards isn't surprising. Not for Lynch, not for anybody.
- If the Seahawks do happen to make it all the way to the Super Bowl and win it, would it be all that surprising if Tate was the Super Bowl MVP? He's just the kind of guy, perhaps like a Deion Branch, that's "decent-decent-decent-DAMN-decent-decent-decent-DAMN!" Big plays and then a whole lot of nothing.
But big plays are important.
- Seattle played five road games in the first half of the schedule and so that means they play five home games in the second half. They went 4-1 in those road games and are now 7-1.
Last season they played five road games in the first half of the season and went 1-4, 4-4 overall.
- Is Tom Cable still a "miracle worker"? Remember how good we felt about JR Sweezy last season and now he's a weaker link than Paul McQuistan. Remember McQuistan? Remember how good we felt about Alvin Bailey? Where has he been? Is it Cable, or is Okung just that good?
The Rams have one of the best defensive end duos in the NFL but that was one of the worst performances I've ever seen by a Seattle offensive line and I'm not that young.
The Bucs aren't going to create the same type of pressure next week, linebacker Lavonte David leads the team with five sacks, but it's not going to matter if you simply can't block anything.
- We used to come out of games like this and lose and think "Well of course they lost, they're the Seahawks." Or better yet, we'd be on the Rams side, dominating a team in almost every respect of the game except for a few important factors and think "Yep, of course. OF COURSE!" But Pete Carroll has completely changed the dynamic of expectations. Thanks to having a very talented roster, Seattle is able to overcome having the worst line in football and luckily it's something that they can improve on as the year goes on. They're going to get Harvin back very soon and hopefully Okung comes back in three weeks and can pick up where he left off as a Pro Bowl tackle a year ago.
Seattle had less than half as many first downs as they've had in any game this year and exactly half as many yards as their worst performance prior to Monday. It was basically how they played against the Texans, minus 135 rushing yards.
The Seahawks won by the way.