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Rams 33 Seahawks 31: Winners and Losers from a tough defeat against the NFC’s best

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NFL: Los Angeles Rams at Seattle Seahawks Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

For an entire game, the Seattle Seahawks stood toe-to-toe with the NFC’s only undefeated team, determined to get revenge for the 42-7 thumping the Los Angeles Rams delivered on them last season. Unfortunately the NFL does not reward moral victories, and the Seahawks instead have to head to London with a 33-31 loss.

It’s been a long time since we’ve said that the Rams are conclusively better than the Seahawks, but that’s the case now. They’re probably going to get a first-round bye, whereas Seattle is maybe going to be fighting for a wild card spot. That the Seahawks didn’t look like one of the worst teams in the NFL is of some comfort to me, but the loss still stings.

Let’s take a look at the Winners and Losers from the first Sunday of October.

Winners

Chris Carson and Mike Davis

These two get paired up as the biggest winners for sparkling performances. A combined 34 touches for 201 yards and a touchdown on that Rams defense is a major shift from the outrageously bad showings we’ve seen out of the Seahawks offense as a whole over the last few seasons. Carson showed patience, strength, power, and Davis has the lateral quickness that Carson lacks. It’s a great 1-2 combination that kept first-round draft pick Rashaad Penny on the sidelines for the entire game.

Offensive line

This might boil down to the return of DJ Fluker, but Mike Solari deserves credit for the revival of the Seahawks rushing attack over the past two weeks. Germain Ifedi is getting downfield and making key blocks. Fluker destroyed Ndamukong Suh on Davis’ touchdown run. Pass protection largely held up, albeit with the Seahawks almost deliberately determined to minimize their own pass attempts. Sadly, the false start by Ifedi and Fluker holding proved to be devastating for the Seahawks’ go-ahead field goal chances in the 4th quarter.

David Moore

First off, Brandon Marshall is as good as gone. Not this week, maybe not during the bye week, but his role in the Seahawks offense is clearly dissipating. Taking his place is preseason star David Moore, who caught his first two NFL touchdowns, including a toasting of Marcus Peters for Seattle’s final points of the game. How cool was that to see?

Tyler Lockett

He’s earning his contract. Marcus Peters is obviously not healthy but I don’t care, Lockett schooled him for a touchdown and Peters had to hold him on multiple occasions. Three catches for 98 yards plus a big kick return. Lockett only had three receiving touchdowns from 2016-2017, he has four right now and is developing into one of the league’s better deep threats.

Frank Clark

The pass rush was predictably non-existent for most of the game. Clark had the lone sack on Goff with a perfect timing of the snap and forcing Goff to fumble on the opening possession. It would be the only time a Rams possession ended in a punt. He also got his first career interception on a huge goal-line stand. This is a man who’s making his case for a contract extension, all while battling turkey burger-induced food poisoning.

Tre Flowers

That Clark interception doesn’t happen if Flowers doesn’t break up the end zone pass for Todd Gurley. Flowers has had a hand in a Seahawks takeaway for three straight weeks. If I have to ding him for anything, it’s that he was the one penalized for holding on a play that negated a fumble recovery for the Seahawks late in the 1st half. Otherwise, he’s coming along nicely at cornerback.

Losers

Shaquill Griffin

That’s probably the worst game I’ve seen Griffin play in his young career. Robert Woods had his way with him, turning short routes into big gains in open field. His pass interference penalty on what would’ve been a 4th down stop in the final quarter was totally reckless and cost them a touchdown. Seattle is shorthanded defensively, and they needed good performances from their best healthy defenders, and Griffin largely failed to deliver.

Justin Coleman

Coleman has been a reliable slot corner, but this was not his best day. He was really poor in open-field tackling situations and got washed out by Robert Woods on Todd Gurley’s second touchdown. Very disappointing game from Coleman.

Tre Madden

Stop putting him in the game. He doesn’t block anybody and on his one target didn’t even turn his head around. His spot on the roster is puzzling and he shouldn’t be wearing Mack Strong’s #38.

Brian Schneider

Michael Dickson is essentially the only thing keeping the Seahawks from having one of the worst special teams units in the NFL yet again. Look at the punt DVOA and look at everything else. The first quarter alone saw the Rams start at their own 45, the Seahawks 12, and their own 42 due to two big kick returns and a blocked punt. Dickson ended up drop kicking all kickoffs after those mishaps. One of the few bright non-Dickson bright spots — Dickson’s late-game shank was a low-key huge deal as that absolutely should’ve been a pin inside the 15 — was Tyler Lockett’s kick return towards midfield. The rest was mediocre-to-terrible. Brian Schneider’s days in Seattle should be over at the end of this season. Four bad ST groups out of the last five years is enough to sound the alarm.

Pete Carroll’s game management

The timeout issue is a non-issue to me. I wouldn’t willingly run the clock to below a minute just to preserve the final timeout, especially knowing how infrequently the Seahawks use the sidelines in two-minute drill situations. The game was lost on 2nd and 8 when Gurley ran for 7 yards. Besides, the Rams blew all of their timeouts with nine minutes to go and it proved meaningless to them.

I am much more pissed off that having gotten the ball with six minutes to go, and after a 44-yard catch to get into field goal range, that Carroll effectively was satisfied and was ready to play it safe and kick that field goal before the penalties put them out of range. The 2nd and 23 call alone told me all I need to know. I’m willing to bet that route would’ve led to the Rams driving down the field and getting the winning points with no time to spare. Knowing the Rams were out of timeouts, aggressively going for clock-bleeding first downs should’ve been more important than “not losing field goal position.” That to me is the start of the game mismanagement woes, and then you could argue they should’ve used their timeouts on the plus side of the two-minute warning. My counterpoint would be the very real possibility the Rams would’ve thrown it, converted easily, and the whole thing is moot. Carroll may have wanted to force the Rams to run it... and it worked anyway. Maybe this happens less if your team would stop burning timeouts because they are so slow in getting plays off.

Final Notes

  • Russell Wilson has now gone three straight games without throwing for more than 200 yards. That hasn’t happened since a four-game spell during the 2014 regular season. I completely understand why Brian Schottenheimer stuck with a run-heavy gameplan to the point of predictability — let’s face it, very little of this passing game works outside of play-action — but an NFL offense shouldn’t be functioning this way in 2018. Not with someone of Wilson’s talent.
  • Doug Baldwin had just 1 catch for 1 yard. Seeing unhealthy Baldwin that ineffective is just sad. Even with Lockett’s improvements and Moore steadily emerging, this is still not a very deep receiving corps. Jaron Brown has gone two straight weeks without a target. I’d prefer a pass-first offense, but this ain’t the roster for it. That’s a philosophical issue that we’ll have to live with for as long as Pete Carroll is coach.
  • Sebastian Janikowski made career field goal 420 in the state of Washington. Heh heh.
  • Tedric Thompson had his ups and downs and certainly was no Earl Thomas out there. That said, he got his first career interception on a Goff Hail Mary, and made a terrific stop on Gurley on 3rd and 1, only for the Rams to sneak it for the win anyway. Earl Thomas’ replacement had a difficult first assignment, and while it wasn’t great, it wasn’t abject failure either.
  • The Oakland Raiders are a bad team. Even with the wackiness potential of traveling to London for a road game against another West Cost foe, if the Seahawks don’t win this game, it’ll be extremely disappointing.
  • I’m out of thoughts.... I’m pretty spent. I spent Saturday night and into early Sunday morning covering “the biggest fight in UFC history” and it turned into a chaotic melee. Hopefully I’ve got an Enemy Reaction to cook up for you after next week.