Takeaways from Seahawks 23-16 loss to Los Angeles Rams

Seattle Seahawks v Los Angeles Rams

Given the injuries Seattle had heading into this weekend's game and the fact they've lost four of their last five games to the Los Angeles Rams regardless of circumstance, a win on Sunday was going to be a difficult achievement for the Seahawks.

However, the manner in which the Seahawks lost to the Rams leaves some serious questions about the viability of this team to make a significant run this season.

While the defense was hardly impenetrable, it was another dud from Russell Wilson and the offense that proved fatal for the Seahawks in a 23-16 loss in Los Angeles.

Wilson threw two interceptions and lost a fumble on a poor snap as Seattle's offense has had at least three turnovers in three of their last four games, which have all resulted in losses. There was also a questionable strategy decision by head coach Pete Carroll to punt instead of going for a fourth-and-inches early in the third quarter as Seattle had a chance to recapture momentum after halftime.

Several more injuries then piled up as well that could leave the team even more short-handed with a Thursday night game ahead against the Arizona Cardinals.

The Seahawks are hurting right now in more ways than one. Here are the takeaways from Sunday's loss to the Rams:

-- Russell Wilson isn't playing anywhere near good enough right now.

The "Russ for MVP" campaign may be on life support.

Wilson has not been the same standout star over the last month that he was prior to the team's bye week last month. Wilson was held without a passing touchdown for the first time this season and his 57.0 passer rating was his worst since a 37.9 rating against the Minnesota Viking in 2018. Wilson has been responsible for 10 turnovers over the last month for the Seahawks. He was intercepted three times in the overtime loss to the Cardinals in Week 7, tossed two interceptions and lost two fumbles in last week's loss to the Buffalo Bills, and lost another fumble with two interceptions on Sunday against the Rams.

"I think that I just got to get better," Wilson said after the game. "I'm not gonna make it overly complicated. It's not on anybody but me. I put it on my shoulders and I'll get it fixed."

The reality is the Seahawks don't have the margin of error for this level of play from Wilson. The team is asking a lot of its star quarterback. The defense has been problematic and the offense has had to carry the load most of the season. Wilson did so masterfully through the first five weeks of the year. But the defensive issues don't appear to be close to being solved and the offense needs to be brilliant for the team to win football games. Wilson being careless with the football doesn't fit that script.

Wilson was intercepted twice by Darious Williams. The first one was horrendous. Wilson stepped out of the pocket and had plenty of room to run for a first down and more. Instead, he tried to force a backside wheel route throw to Will Dissly that was picked off in the end zone.

"It was a bad play," Carroll said. "It was a decision that rarely have we seen Russ do. He's on the other side of the field moving that way and throwing the ball back across. He does miraculous things often. That wasn't one of them."

Williams picked off Wilson again by undercutting an out route to Greg Olsen along the sideline. He was also unable to fall on a loose ball after a low snap from backup center Kyle Fuller slipped from his grasp and was recovered by the Rams.

"We can't play football and win games like that. Can't win," Carroll said. "Philosophically that's so far against the grain for what we believe and how we practice and prepare for the last 10 years, 20 years. It couldn't rub against the grain any more obviously. I'm worried about the fact that it's so loose in this game and last game. One or two, sometimes. But seven? No, that's too many. And we got to get our act together, we just got to get better. We can't do that. We won't beat anybody turning it over (like that)."

-- Jason Myers sets franchise record for longest field goal.

Placekicker Jason Myers set a new franchise record with a 61-yard field goal converted to end the first half for Seattle.

Myers' kick didn't clear the bar by much but was enough to salvage three points for the Seahawks before the break and give Myers the new team record.

Josh Brown was the first in team history to convert a field goal of 58 yards on Oct. 5, 2003 at Lambeau Field against the Green Bay Packers. Stephen Hausckha matched the feat on Oct. 26, 2014 with a 58-yard kick at the Carolina Panthers.

Sebastian Janikowski had a 56-yard field goal in 2018 at Chicago. John Kasay, Brown and Myers all have 55-yard conversions on their resumes as well.

"A fantastic kick. He's off to a great season. He's doing everything we could ask of him," Carroll said.

-- Decision to punt instead of going for a fourth-and-inches early in third quarter seemed like a big error.

Seattle has the worst pass defense in the NFL. They had given up a 93-yard touchdown drive to the Rams already and had offered little resistance to the L.A. offense through the first half. Giving the ball back to the Rams -- anywhere on the field -- felt like a guarantee of points for the opponent.

Even with that in mind, Carroll elected to punt from their own 42-yard line instead of going for the fourth down conversion on the opening drive of the second half.

"I didn't want to give them... that early in the game when there was so much going on, and so many opportunities, I don't want to give them the ball at the 40-yard line. That's a turnover," Carroll said of his decision to kick away. "That's just like you just handed them an interception if you don't make it. If they penetrate and make a play in the backfield and they get you. Knowing that Mikey (Dickson) will kick the ball inside the 10-yard line and do something good with that and we'll go ahead and play defense. That's believing that we're going to be alright. There's times when you go for it, you know, when maybe the logic doesn't add up the same but in that one right there, it was too early in the game. I was believing in our guys. We're going to pull it off and have plenty of time to get back and play well. And I didn't want to give them a turnover right there and I just felt like it wasn't worth it."

The counter argument to Carroll's thinking is that the team's offense has been what has carried it through the first half of the season. The defense has been a sieve that is on pace to set NFL records for worst pass defense in league history. It had allowed the Rams to score on each of their first three possessions of the game and had done very little to slow down the L.A. attack. Why not trust your offense to get the half yard instead of your struggling defense?

"The logic of saying because we're such a high scoring team you should go for it right there doesn't fit in my brain. I don't understand that," Carroll said.

"You can say that but I'm just playing the game. And the game there it wasn't worth giving them the football as well as they had done in the first half there. I didn't mind getting them the ball inside the 10-yard line. And we'll go play defense back there. I just thought it was... There's too many opportunities to give them that advantage. What if they took the ball and went down and scored right there? Then the game feels like it's lopsided and you're way behind it. So that didn't factor in. I wish we could have gone for it and made it on third down. We missed it by an inch."

The punt resulted in a net gain of 46 yards of field position for Seattle as Nsimba Webster fair caught Dickson's punt at the 12-yard line. The Rams would take the drive 88 yards for another touchdown anyway on the following possession. But Carroll still doesn't fault his decision-making in the moment.

"You don't think they're gonna score every time they get the football," Carroll said. "They score one time in the second half. That was it. So that's easy to think that, and I don't blame you for bringing it up, I'm not battling you on that. I just thought at that time, I would probably do it again. And I might not though. It just depends on what's going on."

Seattle's offense didn't score enough points for it to truly matter anyway. If the Rams hadn't scored a single point in the second half, the Seahawks still lose the game 17-16. But after Myers' field goal cut the lead to 17-13 at halftime, that opening possession of the half was a big chance for Seattle to flip the momentum on the Rams. Maybe it's different if a practice squad call-up wasn't handling most of their running back duties. Perhaps Carroll elects to go for it if Chris Carson or Carlos Hyde is the option at running back instead of Alex Collins or DeeJay Dallas.

But it's absolutely fair to criticize the decision to trust a defense to get a stop that hasn't show much ability to pull it off instead of trusting an offense that is among the most productive in the league.

-- The defense somehow has to get better.

We've written a lot about the struggles of the defense after games this season. This isn't going to be a long or in-depth take. The defense just has to play better. Someway, somehow, it has to do more than it is now.

Yes, they were down Shaquill Griffin and Quinton Dunbar at cornerback. Yes, Jamal Adams injured his shoulder and was playing at far less than 100 percent. The injuries are part of the conversation, but not all of it.

The pass rush isn't productive enough. The coverage downfield is incredibly suspect. The team is getting ripped apart by screens when they decide to blitz, particularly on third downs.

The whole package is just not working. It doesn't have to be the Legion of Boom. But it has to get better than this.

-- Injuries are going to make Thursday night a difficult ask.

In addition to the six players that missed Sunday's game due to injuries, Carroll gave a lengthy run down of more injuries sustained in the loss to the Rams.

Cornerback Neiko Thorpe's sports hernia issue resurfaced and forced him out of the game. The injury seems like it could be season-ending given the tone of Carroll's comments.

Running back Travis Homer did not return to the game after injuring his hand on the opening kickoff of the second half.

Backup guard Jordan Simmons strained his calf and did not return to the game. When Mike Iupati would later leave the game with an injury as well, they were replaced at the position by Jamarco Jones for the remainder of the game.

Safety Jamal Adams injured his shoulder early in the game and went to the locker room for evaluation. Adams said he was hurting throughout the game but that he will absolutely be playing against the Cardinals on Thursday night.

Backup center Kyle Fuller -- starting for a concussed Ethan Pocic -- finished the game despite suffering a high-ankle sprain at some point during the game.

That's at least six more injuries to add to a pile that included Pocic, Griffin (hamstring), Dunbar (knee), Carson (foot), Hyde (hamstring) and defensive tackle Bryan Mone (ankle).

With just four days until their next game, the Seahawks injury issues aren't getting any better.

Photo Credit: INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 15: Quarterback Russell Wilson #3 of the Seattle Seahawks is tackled by Terrell Lewis #52 of the Los Angeles Rams in the second quarter at SoFi Stadium on November 15, 2020 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

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