Rams keep the Seahawks from clinching a playoff spot

  • Monday, December 9, 2019 10:57am
  • Sports

LOS ANGELES — A playoff-clinching win will have to wait at least another week.

The Seattle Seahawks had adopted a road-warrior moniker this season as the NFL’s only undefeated team away from home heading into Week 14.

That 6-0 unblemished road record came to a crashing end against the NFC West Division rival Los Angeles Rams on Sunday night’s prime-time stage.

Seattle’s pass protection struggled mightily against L.A.’s defensive front, Rams QB Jared Goff again feasted on the Seahawks’ secondary, and Seattle suffered a season-worst 28-12 loss at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on a night when a win would have clinched a playoff spot and catapulted the Seahawks to the top of the NFC standings. The loss snapped Seattle’s five-game win streak.

“This was a rough night for the Seahawks,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. “We did not do what we planned to do at all. I thought it was a really good night for the Rams. They did a lot of stuff they wanted to do. They controlled the ball, moved it like they wanted to and stayed pretty secure with it for the most part.”

Seattle was held without an offensive touchdown as drives stalled, passes were dropped and penalties consistently put the Seahawks behind the chains. Seattle fell into a steep hole early and was forced out of its run-first mentality.

Quarterback Russell Wilson, who finished 22-of-36 for 245 yards and threw an interception, was held without a touchdown pass for the first time since a 2018 Week 14 win against Minnesota. He was under siege all night from Rams All-Pro defensive lineman Aaron Donald and teammates Samson Ebukam and Dante Fowler, who together sacked Wilson five times.

“We just played our football,” Donald said. “I feel like we came up with a great game plan. We’ve been playing great together as a team the last couple weeks. We came out and competed, everyone was flying around and we did our job.”

Running back Chris Carson, who was thrust into a featured role after Rashaad Penny left the game early with a knee injury, finished with 76 yards on 15 carries. D.K. Metcalf led Seattle receivers with 78 yards on six catches. Carroll, after the game, said Penny suffered a significant ACL sprain.

For the first time in the past four matchups between the two teams, Goff was held under 300 passing yards, but the Rams signal-caller still enjoyed plenty of success. He finished with 293 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.Wide receiver Robert Woods and tight end Tyler Higbee were the main beneficiaries.

Higbee recorded a career-high 116 receiving yards on seven receptions, and Woods compiled 98 yards and a score on seven catches.

“I think we have to come out with better energy,” Seattle safety Quandre Diggs said. “That starts with us, that starts with the leaders, including myself. We have to bring better energy as a team in all three phases. I think we’ll get it fixed. We know who we are. We know what we got to do, but at the end of the day it’s one loss. We got three more games to play.”

Seattle opened the game with a scoring drive, but it came with a price. A Jason Myers 39-yard field goal capped an 11-play, 59-yard drive that gave the Seahawks a 3-0 lead. However, during the drive Penny was lost for the game. After a 16-yard reception, he fell to the turf, pounding his fist and grabbing his knee.

Los Angeles countered Seattle’s scoring drive with a touchdown on its first possession. With long pass plays to Woods and Higbee, the Rams marched 75 yards in 3:26 to take a 7-3 lead after Malcolm Brown scored on a 1-yard run.

Woods extended the Rams’ lead to 14-3 with a 2-yard TD reception early in the second quarter. The score ended a 12-play, 76-yard drive that ate up 6:29.

Seattle’s offense struggled much of the first half and managed just three points on its two best drives. After the opening-drive field goal, the Seahawks’ third drive stalled on a fourth-and-one from LA’s 24 when wide receiver Malik Turner couldn’t hang on to a Wilson pass.

Los Angeles finished a dominant first half with a 10-yard TD pass from Goff to Cooper Kupp with 51 seconds remaining in the second quarter. The Rams used their play-action game to keep Seattle’s defense off-balance. Running back Todd Gurley chipped away, while Goff picked apart the Seattle secondary throughout the first 30 minutes.

At halftime, the Rams held a 21-3 lead and a 240-to-146 edge in total yards. Goff was 15-of-18 for 184 yards and two touchdown passes.

With Seattle needing a big play to get back into the game, Diggs delivered six plays into the third quarter. Goff, facing a third down, threw a ball over the middle intended for Woods. The receiver stopped on the route, and Diggs was in place to intercept the pass and return it 55 yards for a score. Myers missed the extra point wide left, but Seattle trimmed its deficit to 21-9 at 12:54 in the third.

“The coaches just put me in a great spot to make a play,” Diggs said. “That’s all it is. When a play comes to you, you just got to make it. That’s what I did, nothing more, nothing less. We didn’t win, so that stuff really don’t matter.”

The interception was the first of two picks for Diggs, who was acquired in a trade with the Detroit Lions during Week 8.

Seattle’s defense and special teams strung together back-to-back third quarter stops. Rasheem Green blocked a 37-yard field goal attempt by L.A. kicker Greg Zuerlein, and the Seahawks followed by forcing a three-and-out. But Seattle’s offense couldn’t take advantage.

“We did the kind of things we needed to do,” said Carroll on Seattle’s defensive and special-teams play in the second half, “but we needed a couple of plays on the other side to go ahead and take advantage of it, but we weren’t able to find it.”

The Seahawks punted three times in the third quarter, moving the ball 4, 21 and 17 yards on their three drives, and the Rams finally broke through with a 95-yard, seven-play scoring drive. The touchdown – a 7-yard Gurley run around the left side punctuated by a stiff-arm on Seattle cornerback Tre Flowers — pushed L.A.’s lead to 28-9 with 11:07 to play in the fourth quarter.

Seattle tightened the game to 28-12 with a 34-yard Myers field goal with 7:07 to play, but the Seahawks couldn’t score again.

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