Seahawks' secon_ half: 'd' was missing

Seattle lost Russell Wilson to injury, but don't let anyone tell you that was the reason the Seahawks lost this game.

I was tempted to write something really wild in the wake of Seattle’s 26-17 loss to the Rams on Thursday in a transparent effort to attract attention. Something like: Russell Wilson’s willful disregard of the intermediate passing game exposed by Geno Smith’s relief appearance.

Then I realized that this newsletter is free, which means I no longer have a financial incentive to say wild (stuff) in an effort to make people look at me. Man, I missed my chance! Oh well, please consider subscribing to my newsletter, which is absolutely worth the paper it isn’t printed on.

The Seahawks lost their starting quarterback in the third quarter when Russell Wilson’s middle finger was rendered inoperable.

That wasn’t why the Seahawks lost, though. Geno Smith played capably over the final quarter and a half. In fact, you could even say he was good.

Seattle didn’t lose because running back Chris Carson was inactive for the game, either. Nor because Jason Myers missed a field goal at the end of the first half. And while it appeared disastrous when Seattle’s Michael Dickson had a punt blocked in the third quarter, he somehow salvaged the situation by booting the ball for a second time and sending it 68 yards downfield.

The real reason the Seahawks lost this game was that defense. The one that gave up three touchdowns on the Rams’ first four possessions of the second half, and somehow even that sentence doesn’t describe how easy it seemed. Or how wide open the Rams receivers were. Or just how disorganized Seattle’s defense appeared. Or how utterly ineffective safety Jamal Adams was in coverage in the third quarter. First, he overran Desean Jackson on a deep throw in the third quarter, allowing Jackson to come back to the ball for a 68-yard completion. On the next series, Adams was isolated against tight end Tyler Higbee, who beat him easily on an out route for a 13-yard touchdown.

In between those plays Seattle suffered what may turn out to be a season-changing injury. Wilson was injured on a second-down play midway through the period, his right hand striking the hand of Rams Aaron Donald just after Wilson released a pass that was barely overthrown to a wide open Tyler Lockett. Seattle handed off the next play – a third-and-14 – and then punted. Wilson returned to the field the next possession. He handed the ball off on first down, threw a quick bubble screen to tight end Colby Parkinson on second down and then took a sack on third down in which he seemed reluctant to throw the ball. He did not return in the fourth quarter. The only other time Wilson failed to finish an NFL game because of injury was in 2016 when he suffered a sprained knee in a Week 3 victory over San Francisco. Wilson returned to the field for one play after suffering the injury, but then was replaced by Trevone Boykin who finished out a 37-18 victory.

After Thursday’s loss, Carroll described Wilson’s finger as “badly sprained” and didn’t provide any indication if the injury might keep Wilson out or for how long.

Wilson’s injury didn’t explain this loss, tough. Smith came in and led Seattle to 10 fourth-quarter points. His 23-yard touchdown pass to D.K. Metcalf cut the Rams’ lead to two points in with 9:16 left in the game. The Rams scored a touchdown on their ensuing possession, needing just six plays to drive 73 yards without facing so much as a single third down. Sony Michel scored on a 2-yard touchdown run in which he wasn’t touched as he ran off right tackle. It was shameful. Seattle scored a field goal on its next possession, leaving the Seahawks down six with 2:49 left and needing a stop and a touchdown to win. Yes, Seattle’s defense provided one final opportunity for a game-winning touchdown when Carlos Dunlap batted down Matthew Stafford’s third-down pass with just over 2 minutes remaining. The Seahawks also gave up a 12-yard run on the first play of that series when everyone and their mother knew the Rams were going to run the ball.

Seattle got the ball at its own 16 with 2:09 left, but Smith’s first-down pass was intercepted when Lockett fell down after nearly colliding with a Rams defensive back. The Rams kicked a field goal to clinch the game.

There will be some people who try to tell you the defense wasn’t that bad this game, pointing to the fact the Rams managed only three points in the first half. Do not listen to those people. This defense is as awful now as it was at the start of last season when Adams was hurt and Dunlap was still in Cincinnati. Well, Adams is healthy now, Dunlap is here and they can’t stop anyone in spite of all the resources that have been poured into it. A first-round pick on L.J. Collier, who was at least active on Thursday night unlike the previous two games. A first-round pick on Jordyn Brooks, who spent an awful lot of time running away from the line of scrimmage against the Rams, trying to catch up to open receivers. And then there’s Adams, who is the most costly player on this defense both in terms of the draft picks Seattle gave up to get him, the money paid to re-sign him and the yards surrendered when the Rams threw in his vicinity on Thursday night.

I’d like to say that I saw this sort of thing coming on the very day Seattle made the trade with the Jets:

Except I can’t claim credit because I previously conceded:

Should have stuck to my guns because on Thursday night, Adams didn’t even qualify as a speed bump in the middle of Seattle’s defense. The Rams finished with 476 yards of total offense, and honestly it should have been more. Matthew Stafford missed some fairly easy throws probably because his index finger was bothering him. Not as much as Wilson’s middle finger was bothering him, but still. It was jacked up.

Seattle has now given up more than 450 yards in four consecutive games, something only three other NFL teams had ever done in the past 50 years. No team has ever given up more than 450 in five straight games, an indignity that the Seahawks should avoid because they’re playing the Steelers and the absolutely washed Ben Roethlisberger in Week 6. Then again, I would put anything past this Seattle defense.

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