Grading the Game: Seahawks fail on special teams, get good marks on offense
The Seahawks made plays on offense, but were undone by an awful day on special teams in their 28-26 loss to the Rams.
Seattle Times staff reporter
ST. LOUIS — It was a day when two out of three was bad for the Seahawks.
Seattle was the clear statistical victor in two of the three phases of football — offense and defense — outgaining the host Rams 463-272. But the Seahawks so decisively lost the third — special teams — that they ended up losing the game as well, 28-26.
The grades, then, will reflect the statistical inequities present throughout.
After a slow start, Russell Wilson turned in a historic day, becoming the first quarterback in NFL history to throw for 300 yards (313) and rush for 100 (106) in the same game. Sure, he missed a throw or two, and might have held on to the ball too long once or twice. But Wilson had Seattle in position to pull off another improbable comeback and ended up with a season high in passing yards.
Seattle’s plan to get back to basics took a hit in pregame warm-ups when Derrick Coleman suffered a broken foot. That forced Seattle to use Robert Turbin at fullback and undoubtedly impacted some of what the team wanted to do. St. Louis’ defensive line also played well, leaving Marshawn Lynch with not a lot of room at times. But Lynch ran hard as ever despite being held to 53 yards on 18 carries. Christine Michael, whose role the rest of the season could increase, got his first two carries of the year for 5 yards.
With Percy Harvin gone, Doug Baldwin moved back to playing more in the slot and responded with his best game of the season — and the best for any Seattle receiver this year — with seven catches for 123 yards. Paul Richardson, who will get a lot more time with Harvin gone, had his best game with four catches for 33 yards. And Jermaine Kearse made a couple of big plays as well.
Seattle was without its top two tight ends, and made do blocking wise by using Alvin Bailey often as an eligible tackle. Cooper Helfet, though, continues to show big flashes as a receiver with three catches for 61 yards, including his first touchdown on an elite-level catch in the front corner of the end zone.
Seattle played again without Max Unger, and that might have led to what were again a few communication errors. Seattle ended up allowing three sacks to a St. Louis team that had gotten just one in the first six games — the fewest for any team in the NFL in the first six games since at least 1964. There also were three holding penalties, all of which wiped out big gains.
Seattle had trouble early with St. Louis’ running, but got better as the game wore on, holding the Rams to just 32 yards rushing on 12 carries in the second half after allowing 70 on 15 in the first. Michael Bennett played particularly well with two tackles-for-loss. The pass rush, though, remains an issue as the Seahawks didn’t have any sacks and remain stuck on seven for the season. Seattle also was credited with just three quarterback hurries.
This was the first game without Bobby Wagner, out for a while with turf toe, pushing K.J. Wright to the middle and Malcolm Smith to the weakside. Each ended up leading the team with 10 tackles. For Smith, it marked a return to form as he also got credit for forcing the fumble in the final minute that almost gave the Seahawks a final chance. Seattle had some difficulties in coverage at times, though, with St. Louis tight ends catching six passes, including a touchdown by Lance Kendricks — the eighth touchdown scored by a tight end against the Seahawks this season.
The Seahawks again were forced to shuffle things in the secondary when Tharold Simon — getting the first start of his career in place of the injured Byron Maxwell — left with a sprained ankle late in the first half, though not before getting an untimely face mask penalty. That left Marcus Burley as the other corner and had DeShawn Shead seeing his most significant action of the season. Safety Kam Chancellor also limped off the field for a few plays and still doesn’t look like his old self. Richard Sherman, though, had another good day and the Seahawks mostly kept the Rams dinking-and-dunking.
This is where Seattle lost the game, allowing a 75-yard kickoff return (partly a result of a rare ball not well struck by Steven Hauschka) that set up one touchdown, a 90-yard trick play punt return for another touchdown, and the fake punt that allowed the Rams to keep their final drive alive. One small caveat — injuries played a role here, too. Coleman, for instance, is a key special-teams player, and Seattle has some young players in crucial roles who are learning on the job. And all of the plays had sort of a fluky quality to them. But the Seahawks needed to be better.