The Seahawks' 2020 season came to a disappointing end Saturday afternoon at Lumen Field as a tough Rams defense stymied Seattle's offense for the better part of four quarters, leading to a 30-20 Rams victory. Here are five rapid reactions from Seattle's season-ending loss in the Wild Card round of the playoffs:
1. It was a rough night for the Seahawks offense.
The Rams finished the regular season allowing the fewest points, yards and passing yards in the NFL, and that top-ranked defense made things difficult for the Seahawks all afternoon long.
The Seahawks punted on their first three possessions, got a field goal on their fourth, then Rams cornerback Darious Williams made one of the biggest plays of the game, sniffing out a bubble screen to DK Metcalf and jumping the route for an interception that he returned 42 yards for a touchdown.
The Seahawks did respond to that with a touchdown of their own, a beauty of a pass on the run by Russell Wilson to Metcalf for a 51-yard touchdown, but beyond that big play the Seahawks offense couldn't get much going the rest of the way until they put together a 76-yard scoring drive late in the fourth quarter after the Rams had built a three-score lead.
By the time the dust had settled, the Seahawks managed only 278 yards and 11 first downs, and were just 2 for 14 on third down. Russell Wilson, meanwhile, was 11 for 27 for 174 yards, two touchdowns and the pick-six, and he was sacked five times, giving the Rams 16 sacks in three games against Seattle this year.
2. As has been the case all season long, turnovers helped tell the story of this game.
As mentioned above, the Rams got a defensive touchdown early on via a pick-six, a play that helped change the tone of the game. Instead of an even low-scoring defensive struggle, the Seahawks were suddenly down 10 and wound up playing from behind the entire afternoon, something that plays right into the hands of a great Rams pass rush and pass defense.
Then, late in the game with the Seahawks still clinging to some hope down 10, D.J. Reed who had otherwise been having a very good game that included a 58-yard kick return, fumbled a punt return. The Rams turned that short field into another touchdown, putting the game out of reach.
And it's no surprise the Seahawks lost a game in which they lost the turnover battle 2-0. The Seahawks won every game this season they played when they committed one or zero turnovers, and they lost their four regular season games with multiple turnovers. Unfortunately that stat was again predictive of the outcome in the playoffs.
3. Cam Akers was a difference maker for the Rams.
The Seahawks defense did a lot of things well in this game, holding the Rams to 16 first downs and a 4.7 yards-per-play average, but what ultimately made the difference for the Rams was the play of rookie running back Cam Akers. Akers missed the previous meeting between these two teams with an ankle injury, and his return provided a huge boost to Rams offense.
Akers, a second-round pick in this year's draft, rushed for 131 yards and a touchdown on 28 carries, and while he had only two catches, one of them was massive, a 44-yard catch and run on third-and-9 that set up an eventual Rams touchdown.
4. DK Metcalf was a bright spot in an otherwise tough day for the offense.
The Rams make things challenging for just about every opposing passing game, and the Seahawks have been no exception this year. As a result, DK Metcalf hasn't put up big numbers against the Rams like he has much of the rest of the league, catching two passes for 23 yards in Week 10, and six for 59 yards in Week 16. On Saturday Metcalf had his best game yet against the Rams, catching five passes for 96 yards and two touchdowns, his second big performance in the Wild Card round in as many seasons after he had seven catches for 160 yards and a touchdown in Philadelphia last year.
Metcalf could have had another score when he got open deep on third-and-short in the third quarter, but Wilson had to rush his throw due to pressure from Aaron Donald and overthrew Metcalf.
5. Bobby Wagner, Jarran Reed & Carlos Dunlap II were standouts on defense.
While Akers was the big difference maker, the Seahawks did have plenty of good moments on defense, and as has been the case for nearly a decade, middle linebacker Bobby Wagner was leading the way. Wagner, who a day earlier earned first-team All-Pro honors for the sixth time in his career, had 16 tackles, a sack and a tackle for loss on run defense. According to Pro Football Reference, Wagner is just the second player in the last 30 years to record 15 or more tackles and a sack in a playoff game.
Jarran Reed, meanwhile, overcame an oblique injury that knocked him out of last week's game to record a pair of sacks, both third-down drive enders. And while defensive end Carlos Dunlap II didn't fill up the stat sheet, he made a big difference, particularly on third down. On four different third-down stops for Seattle's defense, Dunlap twice batted the ball down at the line of scrimmage, had a quarterback hit that forced an incomplete pass, and helped collapse the pocket on one of Reed's two sacks.
The best photos from the Seattle Seahawks' Wild Card game vs. the Los Angeles Rams at Lumen Field. Fueled by Nesquik