On Tuesday night, the Rams beat the Seahawks 20-10 to, effectively, remove any chance of Seattle qualifying for the postseason. In a game that was rife with controversy and uncertainty, there are a few points to take away.
Seattle's offensive struggles continue
In a game that primarily consisted of two solid defenses going up against one another, the Rams offense was able to put together some drives to threaten the Seahawks', whereas Russell Wilson and the Seahawks could not do the same.
The Seahawks generated only 214 yards of total offense, only 6 yards more than they produced when they were shut out by the Green Bay Packers in week 10. They had only two plays that generated more than 20 yards. A misthrown deep ball that was caught, extremely luckily, by Gerald Everett. And a missed tackle that led to Freddie Swain gaining 25 yards on a catch and run.
Rashaad Penny and Deejay Dallas were both quite serviceable in this game, picking up 80 yards together. But it seems as though Shane Waldron hasn't yet come to grips with this offense, and the lack of Tyler Lockett hurt their chances a lot.
Scheduling and officiating issues
Firstly, the match was postponed due to the Rams adding some players to the Covid-19 list just days before the game. But when the Seahawks did the same thing, by adding Tyler Lockett, DJ Reed, and others to the list, the NFL didn't offer the Seahawks the opportunity to reschedule it.
During the match, the officiating crew had some quite serious blunders. In the third quarter, when the score was 10-10 and the Rams were facing a 3rd and 12 looked to have come up short before a defensive holding penalty gifted them a new set of downs. After rewatching the game, the holding appeared to be just the corner play press coverage on Cooper Kupp. The Rams would then drive down the field and score the go-ahead score.
The biggest controversy, however, was the non-call of a defensive pass interference late in the 4th quarter. The Seahawks, down 7, decided to go for it on a 4th and 6. Russell Wilson was able to air the ball out towards Deejay Dallas, who was being covered by Ernest Jones, who broke up the pass. But after watching the play again, Jones interfered with Dallas' arms before the ball had reached the area. This is a clear indicator of pass interference. Out of frustration, Dallas kicked the football and was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct. On the TV broadcast of the game, the announcers and the rules specialist shared the same level of confusion and were both extremely shocked by the fact that DPI was not called.
Cooper Kupp is amazing
On an evening overshadowed by officiating mishaps and scheduling issues, Cooper Kupp shined like he has all season. He capped off a historic night where he broke Isaac Bruce’s receptions record for the Rams with 122 catches in only 14 games. Kupp caught 9 balls for 136 yards and 2 touchdowns. He showed off his abilities, not only in his receiving but also in his blocking after being manned up against defensive ends and moving them downfield.
With only 3 games remaining, Cooper Kupp remains the front runner for OPOY, rightfully so. He leads the league in receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns, a feat only three people have achieved before: Jerry Rice in 1990, Sterling Sharpe in 1992, and Steve Smith in 2005.
The Seahawks defense is too unpredictable
Pete Carroll and Ken Norton Jr have created a monster in Seattle, and not in a good way. The range (in quality) of players on this defense is extreme. Some, like Quandre Diggs and Bobby Wagner, are pro-bowl quality players. With Diggs showing this with his interception of Stafford. Some, like Carlos Dunlap, are wildly inconsistent. Dunlap recorded three sacks against the Rams. A few weeks ago, he only played four snaps throughout the entire match. And some, like John Reid, are completely unprepared for this level. I feel nothing but sympathy for players like Reid after they were thrust into a starting role following injuries to many starters.
If the Seahawks want to make a playoff push, whether it be next year or in a few years, they need to ensure that their defense is more consistent in allowing fewer yards of total offense.
Where does this leave the teams?
Following their win, the Rams look almost certain to secure the first playoff place, to play the 4 seed on the NFC side of the playoffs. And with a roster like theirs, it wouldn’t be a shock if they can cruise to the Super Bowl on the back of their stars, like Jalen Ramsey, Aaron Donald, Cooper Kupp, and Matthew Stafford among others.
However, this loss has ensured that Seattle will suffer their first losing season in 10 years, before the Russell Wilson era. This loss all but condemns Seattle to a season without postseason for the first time since 2017. This loss could also signal the end of the Pete Carroll era, with calls for him to be relieved of his duties and the end of Russell Wilson as a Seahawks following rumors of his discontent with the state of the franchise.