SEATTLE—The Seahawks' hopes to repeat as NFC West champs were dealt a big blow Sunday, with the Los Angeles Rams winning 42-7 at CenturyLink Field to build a two-game cushion in the division with two games to play.
Here are five rapid reactions to a tough Seahawks loss that dropped their record to 8-6:
1. Field Position Made A Huge Difference.
The Rams won on Sunday for a number of reasons, but perhaps the biggest factor, especially early as they built a big lead, was the difference in field position.
Thanks to a turnover on Seattle's first possession, Los Angeles started its first drive in Seahawks territory and turned that short field into a field goal, starting a trend that continued throughout most of the game. The Rams first-half drives started at the Seahawks' 40-yard line, midfield, the Seahawks 1-yard line, the L.A. 20-yard line, the Seattle 36, the Seattle 39 and the Seattle 47. The Rams scored on every one of those drives except for the one that started at their own 20.
For the game, the Rams scored on seven of eight possessions starting at midfield or better, only failing to do so late in the game, while their six possessions beginning in their own territory resulted in six punts and an interception.
The Seahawks, meanwhile, started 12 of 15 possessions inside their own 30, and their only possession starting in Rams territory came with 1:50 left in the game.
2. Early Turnovers Were Costly.
There's no way to know how the game would have gone differently had the Seahawks gotten off to a better start, but the Seahawks fell behind early because a big play turned into a negative when Tanner McEvoy fumbled after a 19-yard catch and run. Instead of the Seahawks having a new set of downs at the 40, the Rams had the ball and a short field.
In the second quarter with Seattle trailing 20-0, the Seahawks were hoping to get something going and opened a drive with an 11-yard Mike Davis run, but on the next play Russell Wilson fumbled while trying to avoid pressure, giving the Rams another short field they turned into a touchdown.
3. Todd Gurley Was A Much, Much Bigger Factor This Time Around.
One of the biggest reasons the Seahawks were able to limit the Rams to just 10 points in a Week 5 victory in Los Angeles was the way Seattle's defense contained Todd Gurley, who is having a huge season.
Gurley, who came into Sunday's game with a league-leading 13 touchdowns and the second most yards from scrimmage in the NFL, managed just 50 total yards against Seattle in the previous meeting, 43 rushing and 7 receiving. This time around, a Seahawks defense missing several key players could not keep the running back in check, with Gurley rushing for 152 yards and three touchdowns on 21 carries and catching three passes for 28 yards and a fourth touchdown.
4. The Seahawks Struggled With Aaron Donald And The Rams Pass Rush.
Seattle's offensive line has taken a lot of positives strides in the second half of the season, particularly in its pass protection. But against a loaded Rams front, the Seahawks struggled to keep Russell Wilson upright, with the Rams recording seven sacks. Three of those sacks came from All-Pro defensive tackle Aaron Donald, who also had two tackles for loss and a forced fumble.
5. Bobby Wagner Showed Some Serious Toughness.
Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner was a game-day decision due to the hamstring injury that caused him to leave last week's game early, and despite not practicing all week, he was active and started Sunday's game. Wagner was clearly not at 100 percent, looking a bit hobbled at times, but still managed to record seven tackles before leaving the game in the third quarter.
"In warrior-like fashion he rose to the occasion to play," Seattle head coach Pete Carroll said of Wagner's Week 15 performance. "He felt good pregame. He had to try to find a way that he could play and he did. I couldn't admire him more for trying to help his team in every way that he could."
In other injury news, linebacker D.J. Alexander, one of Seattle's top special teams players, left the game with a concussion. Tight end Nick Vannett was unable to finish the game because of a shoulder injury, while cornerback Justin Coleman left the game with a chest injury, but was able to return.
Fan photos from the Seahawks' Week 15 game against the Los Angeles Rams at CenturyLink Field.