LOS ANGELES -- 'It's all about the ball' has been a central theme of Pete Carroll's program ever since he took the head coaching job in Seattle, and for the most part, his Seahawks teams have taken care of the football and taken the football away from its opponent better than any team in the NFL, owning a plus-56 turnover differential (148 takeaways to 92 giveaways) since 2011 heading into Week 2 of the 2016 regular season, the second-best mark in the League in that span.
But Sunday afternoon's 9-3 loss to the Rams at L.A. Memorial Coliseum left the Seahawks with a minus turnover differential for a second consecutive week, as Seattle left Los Angeles minus-1 in turnover margin seven days after leaving the season-opening win against the Miami Dolphins with a turnover margin of minus-2. Despite what have otherwise been solid defensive efforts through the first two weeks for the Seahawks, Carroll called out forcing turnovers as an area "still left out there" that his club needs to pick up.
"A couple minus turnovers in the first two games is not the way we play," Carroll said. "It's not our style at all and it's hard to overcome that and that's why the score's so close. We're not in the plus category to change that, so we have to do a better job. That's really that which is still left out there defensively. We've got to get the football better than we are."
Seattle's defense held the Rams to 3-of-12 (25 percent) on third-down and 283 total yards, including just 51 yards on 19 carries (2.7-yard average) from Los Angeles running back Todd Gurley, 2015's NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. The unit tallied three sacks, one from defensive end Michael Bennett and two from defensive end Frank Clark, and didn't allow a touchdown, holding the Rams to three field goal tries. But without a turnover, a Seahawks offense that had been struggling for most of the day against a stingy Rams defense was left with unfavorable field position, as Seattle started seven of its 10 possessions inside its own 20-yard-line with the other three all starting at the 25.
"We know that when we get the ball it puts our offense in good position to score and help us win games," said linebacker K.J. Wright, who led the Seahawks with nine total tackles, including one for loss. "So we've got to find a way. We've laid a goose egg in these two games."
Added free safety Earl Thomas: "It was tough, especially when you're not getting a turnover. We were close, we were fighting and trying to strip the ball. [Rams quarterback Case Keenum] did a great job of managing the game."
Low-scoring defensive battles have been common between the Seahawks and Rams in recent seasons, and with a combined 12 points going up on the scoreboard Sunday it marked the lowest-scoring matchup between the two sides since a 16-6 Seattle win in 2011. The Seahawks know winning the turnover battle in those types of games can prove pivotal, as evidenced by the day's lone takeaway that saw Rams linebacker Alec Ogletree force and recover a Christine Michael fumble in the final minute to halt any hope of a Seahawks comeback.
"As a defense, we've got to get them the ball more and we've got to put them in better scoring position and do our part," said cornerback Richard Sherman. "That's all you can control. You can control the things that we can control and that's trying to get them the ball back and make stops."
Turnovers 'come in bunches' was the saying used among Seahawks players and coaches last season, and when they do start coming, a Seattle defense that has given up just 19 points and one touchdown through the season's first two games will be able to provide that much more help to an offense that is working to find its way.
"The great thing about it is we still have room for improvement," said Thomas. "As far as situationally, it's us, it's an easy scheme. We understand it, we've been in this scheme for seven years now. We've played a lot of football, we have a lot of experience, so we're going to play great defense.
"We just need to keep giving our offense ops until they get their rhythm."
The Seahawks fall 9-3 in their first road game of the 2016 season against the Los Angeles Rams.