The Seahawks battled the Rams all evening long in a low-scoring, defensive struggle, but in a game they needed to help keep their playoff hopes alive, they were unable to get comeback they needed—and unable to overcome a couple of controversial calls late—as they fell to Rams 20-10.
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Here are six rapid reactions to Tuesday night's loss, which dropped Seattle's record to 5-9, guaranteeing the franchise's first losing season since 2011:
1. A hard-fought game will unfortunately be remembered largely for some controversial calls.
The Seahawks didn't lose on Tuesday night because of officiating. They lost because their offense struggled against a tough Rams defense, and because an otherwise very good day by the defense was marred by some huge plays by the Rams, and by Cooper Kupp in particular. But what isn't up for debate is that in the fourth quarter, a couple of debatable officiating decisions had a big impact on the game.
With the Seahawks down by 7 and trying to drive for the potential tying score, Russell Wilson heaved a deep fourth-down pass toward DeeJay Dallas, and despite Dallas clearly being hit before the ball arrived, no flag was thrown, much to the chagrin of Dallas, the Seahawks and just about anyone watching the game and commenting on Twitter.
Making things worse from a Seattle standpoint, the Seahawks were in a position of needing a tying score because the Rams earlier took the lead on a drive that looked to end on a three-and-out, but instead was extended by a questionable defensive holding call on Bless Austin.
And if Seahawks fans felt like their team got a raw deal on those calls, well, they weren't alone. Dean Blandino, a rules analyst for FOX and former the VP of officiating for the NFL—someone who usually doesn't like to throw officials under the bus—stated on the FOX broadcast that both were incorrect calls.
While Seahawks coach Pete Carroll acknowledged that that the no-call on fourth down didn't look good on the replay he saw, he said he wouldn't use that as an excuse for the loss: "I'm not bellyaching about that call. We need to win the game in all the other ways we could win the game."
The game featured great efforts from two teams that were short-handed due to COVID-19 cases, some big plays, and some big moments, and there were plenty of reasons the Rams won aside from the officiating, from Cooper Kupp's monster game to Seattle's offense struggling against a tough Rams defense, but unfortunately most fans will remember it largely for a couple of controversial officiating decisions.
2. Seattle's offense couldn't maintain the momentum from the past couple of games.
After struggling early in a Week 13 win over the 49ers, the Seahawks offense got going to help lead Seattle to a victory, then in Houston the Seahawks had their most complete offensive performance of the season. But against a tough Rams defense, Russell Wilson and company couldn't maintain the level of play they showed in the past game and a half. Wilson, who played very well in the last two games, wasn't quite as sharp, most notably missing a wide-open DK Metcalf for what might have been a game-tying touchdown, and while Rashaad Penny and DeeJay Dallas ran hard, the Seahawks didn't have enough offensive plays to get the running game established like they would have liked.
And as has been the case for the Seahawks all season when the offense hasn't been at its best, third down was a big factor, with the Seattle going just 3 for 11. The absence of Tyler Lockett was definitely felt, with the Rams using All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey to shadow DK Metcalf for much of the night—though it's worth pointing out Metcalf got past Ramsey deep a couple of times in addition to catching six passes for 52 yards.
3. Cooper Kupp was a big problem.
The Seahawks knew coming into this game that priority No. 1 for the defense was containing Rams receiver Cooper Kupp, and while they had some good moments against him early, including Jordyn Brooks breaking up a fourth-down pass attempt, the Yakima native eventually had yet another monster game in a season full of them.
With the Seahawks secondary missing D.J. Reed, who is on the COVID-19 list, as well as Jamal Adams and Tre Brown, who are out with season-ending injuries, Matt Stafford and Kupp were able to take advantage, most notably with Kupp scoring two touchdowns, while also posting gains of 42 and 32 yards on third-down receptions.
Kupp, who came into the game leading the league in receiving yards, receptions and receiving touchdowns, added to his totals in all of those categories, catching nine passes for 136 yards and two touchdowns, including the 29-yarder early in the fourth quarter that ended up being the game-winner.
The Seahawks did a lot of things well on defense, from their four sacks to Quandre Diggs' interception to holding the Rams to a single field goal in the first half, but they weren't able to contain L.A.'s best playmaker.
4. Carlos Dunlap II had a monster game.
Veteran pass-rusher Carlos Dunlap II saw his role decrease this season, and while he was a good team player about it, he also wasn't happy to lose playing time. A big performance in a limited role against the 49ers that included a sack for a safety and a batted ball on fourth down that clinched the win, Dunlap saw his playing time go up last week and again on Tuesday night, and he responded with a monster performance, recording 3.0 sacks, his first three-sack game since Week 13 of the 2019 season.
5. So did Jordyn Brooks.
Second-year linebacker Jordyn Brooks has been putting up big numbers all season, but Tuesday's game might have been his most complete performance of the season. Brooks finished with 11 tackles to lead the team, and also had two tackles for loss, one of which came on a screen pass—a big issue for Seattle's defense for much of the season—and he also had a fourth-down pass breakup to give Seattle a turnover on downs.
6. Michael Dickson set a record.
Michael Dickson has been a big part of the Seahawks' defensive success all season, making opponents go long distances by pinning them deep, and on Tuesday he was great again, averaging 49.5 yards on six punts, three of which were downed inside the Rams 15-yard line.
With those three punts downed inside the 20, Dickson now has 37 this season, establishing a new Seahawks record. Previously Dickson was tied for the team record with Jon Ryan and Jeff Feagles.
The Seattle Seahawks take on the Los Angeles Rams for Week 15 of the 2021 season. This album will be updated throughout the game. Game action photos are presented by Washington's Lottery.