INGLEWOOD—As Jason Myers' 55-yard kick sailed wide right, it was a harsh reminder of how fine the margins can be in an NFL game.
Had Myers made that kick, it would have been his fourth of the game, and third over 50 yards, and made him the end-of-game hero for the second week in a row. Had that kick gone through the uprights, it would have capped Geno Smith's fourth game-winning drive of the season, and in dramatic fashion this time, as he returned from an elbow injury only for that final drive after missing the previous three possessions.
Most importantly, had the kick been good, the Seahawks would be flying home from L.A. feeling great about another hard-fought victory. Instead, Myers, who has been fantastic of late, including a 5-for-5 effort with the game winner at the end of regulation a week ago, had a rare miss, and the Seahawks lost to the Rams 17-16, dropping their record to 6-4.
And what made the loss particularly disappointing for the Seahawks is that, for a lot of reasons, they felt like they didn't need to be in a position where their kicker was asked to make a long field goal with the game on the line.
Most notably, the Seahawks were flagged for 12 penalties for 130 yards, including two critical fourth-quarter calls that led to Rams points, extending drives after apparent third-down stops. Then there was the fact that the offense, which looked so good on its way to a touchdown to open the game, settled for two field goals on three other promising drives, including one that got to the 5-yard line. A missed opportunity to put the game out of reach. Finally, on that potential game-winning drive, there was a sequence that, as Seahawks coach Pete Carroll put it, "we didn't quite handle that as well as we'd have liked," cost the offense time to perhaps throw another pass or two to make it a shorter field goal attempt.
Add all of that up, and the Seahawks left Los Angeles feeling like they missed a big opportunity ahead of a Thanksgiving night showdown with the 49ers, who moved a game ahead of Seattle in the standing with their win on Sunday.
"This was a most disappointing loss for us today, because of the way we did it," Carroll said. "We made it really hard on ourselves so many times in this game with the calls that were made. And I'm not disputing any of them, just in general today it really blew up on us and gave them a really good chance to take advantage of it and they did.
"I'm really disappointed because it feels like we did that to ourselves, and we talked so much about that. We're trying to make sure that that's not part of our game and shoot, it was the biggest part of the game, I thought. Nice job by them to finish it, they did a good job to do what they needed to do with the clock and all that, but they gave us a chance, and Geno was able to pop back out there, threw a couple of great balls to give us a shot, and we just didn't get our field goal to win the game. That's kind of what the NFL is. You have those opportunities, you create those, and then you've got to try to make them. Unfortunately, you don't make them all. Last week was our game, this week was their game."
Added linebacker and defensive captain Bobby Wagner, "We definitely didn't help ourselves in some of those cases. We've just got to find a way to win these games."
The Seahawks now need to bounce back quickly from this loss and clean up some of the self-inflicted mistakes before facing a very challenging opponent at home on Thursday night.
"It's really important that we turn it around, bounce back, we come back Thursday and we've got a big game coming up," Carroll said. "We'll have to really handle this well and get our act together, and make sure we play a great football game, because we're in control of what we do. We have to win next week's game to put us in a good position; that wouldn't have changed either way, it just makes it a little more pressing at this time."
While Carroll didn't comment on whether or not he agreed with any of the crucial late-game penalties, he and many players clearly took issue in the moment when pass interference was called on Devon Witherspoon in the end zone, giving the Rams a fresh set of downs they would turn into a crucial touchdown to make it a one-score game. Later Riq Woolen was flagged for illegal hands to the face on the opposite side of the field from where Matthew Stafford threw an incomplete pass on third-and-15, giving the Rams another first down that led to the go-ahead field goal.
Despite those moments, however, the Seahawks still had a shot to win it, and with Smith coming back in the game despite a sore elbow, he quickly moved the offense down the field. After a 13-yard completion to Tyler Lockett opened the drive, fired incomplete to DK Metcalf, hit a short pass to Zach Charbonnet, then found Metcalf for 21 yards. That's when the next issue came up for the Seahawks, who with time winding down, missed a chance to get Myers into closer range by handing of to Charbonnet for a 2-yard gain, leaving time only for Smith to spike the ball to stop the clock before the field goal attempt.
"We didn't quite handle that as well as we'd have liked, but we got in field goal range," Carroll said about that end-of-game sequence. "We got there and we had a shot. Jason has kicked balls from that far before, but we'd have loved to have been a little bit closer, obviously."
Asked more about that sequence, Carroll declined to go into details, but said, "We didn't do that as clean as we'd like," later adding, "We didn't do it right. We didn't do that exactly the way we'd like to do that. It didn't come out right. We'll tell you more about it tomorrow."
Smith later provided a little more clarity about that moment, saying his in-helmet communication with coaches went out, for the first time all game, right after the completion to Metcalf.
"There was an outage or something, no play came in my helmet, so I called the quickest play I could in that situation, tried to get a few more yards," Smith said. "I called a run play, thought we had a chance, and it really didn't work out how we thought it would."
And while Myers wasn't able to make his third kick of 50-plus yards in the game, nobody was blaming him for the loss. Not when he has helped the Seahawks win so many games over the years with clutch kicks—including last week's game-winner—and not when, had the team done so many other things better, a long-game winning attempt wouldn't have been necessary.
"We have the utmost confidence in him," said Wagner. "Whether he makes it or misses it, we're going to support him. we know he's going to make that kick nine times out of 10. If we put him in that position again, we know he's going to make it."
Added fellow defensive captain Quandre Diggs, "I'll take J-May 10 times out of 10. Today, it was just one of those things where he just didn't make it, but I've seen him make so many since I've been here."
Tyler Lockett pointed to the offense slowing down, scoring just three second half points after a strong start to the game, noting that had that group played better for four quarters, the outcome wouldn't have come down to a field goal attempt.
"You can't put that on him," Lockett said. "Obviously, that's the last play of the game so that's what everybody remembers, but there were so many plays we can all look back at and say, 'We had a hand in this.' So we're not going to pinpoint play. We trust him, we know he's going to make his kicks. For us, we just can't put ourselves in situations where we've got to be able to do everything we can to win at the end."
Even in the loss, there were some encouraging moments and things to build off of going forward. On an individual level, Tyler Lockett moved into second place in franchise history for both receptions and receiving yards, and fellow receiver DK Metcalf scored his 38th touchdown, the most receiving touchdowns by a Seahawks player through his first five seasons. And on the other side of the ball, Bobby Wagner became just the third NFL player to record 100 tackles in 12 straight seasons, joining London Fletcher and Derrick Brooks in that exclusive club.
There was also the fact that the defense, despite giving up those late, penalty-aided drive, still played considerably better against the Rams than they did in Week 1, holding the Rams to 276 yards and a 2-for-9 conversion rate on third down after they gained 426 yards in Week 1, going 11 for 17 on third down.
"We played really good all day long. We did a really good job and we controlled them—they ran the ball for 60-70 yards (82) or something like that—and really Matthew (Stafford) wasn't able to get a bunch of numbers on this day. Third down was OK, 2 of 9 I think they were, that's a good output for us. We were pleased with that. It was enough to get us a win. But just on this day, with all that happened, that wasn't quite enough," Carroll said.
Said Diggs, who had a team-high 13 tackles, "We've got to finish. We didn't finish. It's good to start off fast, start off early, play well throughout the game, but we didn't finish. We were able to get some stops, we held them to 17 points, but we could have been better. We've got some things that obviously have to be fixed. We'll reassess and we'll go from there."
There were good moments for Seattle, but in the end there were too many mistakes to overcome.
"We just kind of got in our own way today again," said running back DeeJay Dallas. "We just need to flush this and move on. We've got a quick turnaround, so just flush it and get better."
The 12s made the trip to Los Angeles to cheer on the Seahawks as they look to even the season series against the Rams in Week 11. Presented by TCL.