For three-plus quarters, the Seahawks went toe-to-toe with what might be the best team in the NFL, trading touchdowns and big plays with the unbeaten Los Angeles Rams.
Then with time running out and the offense moving into Rams territory in search of the go-ahead score, the Seahawks stubbed their toe in the form of two drive-killing penalties that knocked them out of field-goal range.
So it's no surprise that on an afternoon when the Seahawks did so much right, particularly on offense, but still fell just short, losing 33-31, head coach Pete Carroll and his players were a mixture of encouraged and frustrated by what took place at CenturyLink Field.
On one hand, the Seahawks offense played better than it has all season, and did so against a defense that has given Seattle fits in recent years, but on the other hand, the Seahawks still lost to fall to 2-3 despite that big day on offense.
"That was a terrific football game today," Carroll said. "We went toe-to-toe with these guys. I don't know how many people out there thought it was going to be like that, but the guys in this room did, and they went out there to win this football game from the start to the finish. We played with great intensity and resolve about getting it done. It wasn't all pretty, we gave up some stuff we really regret, but offensively, we played just about as precisely as we wanted to… Russell (Wilson) found his way to make the big plays to put us in a position to win the game at the end. Unfortunately we get knocked out of field goal range with a penalty. It was really disturbing that that happened at that time."
Carroll said he was "frustrated" with how the game ended because his team put itself in position to attempt a game-winning field goal, only to get backed up by a holding call. But frustrated or not in the game's ending, Carroll still feels good about the direction his team is headed in based on what he saw Sunday.
"I hope you can tell how our team has grown," Carroll said. "The last three weeks have been really an extraordinary step forward for us, and we're jacked about it. Here we go—there's a long season ahead of us, and how we come out of this game and go into the next one will be crucial, just as it will be the next week. There's no doubting who we are as a team and how we're trying to build this thing."
Said guard D.J. Fluker, who helped pave the way for a 190-yard rushing performance, "At the end of the day, we played hard for 60 minutes in that ballgame, and shoot, I don't understand how we didn't come out on top. But at the end of the day, we all played hard for each other. And we're going to see them again, I can't wait for it… It's very frustrating, because we played with passion, we played with heart, we played with some charisma, and everybody came together. I think we played as a team on fire and we didn't stop until the very end, but at the end of the day, a loss is a loss, and we're going to regroup, come back and go play next week."
Carroll and his team were particularly encouraged by a rushing performance that saw the Seahawks average 5.9 yards-per-carry on 32 rushes, with Chris Carson leading the way with 116 yards on 19 carries, and Mike Davis adding 68 yards and a score on 12 carries. Nothing epitomized Seattle's day on offense more than when on a first-half drive, they ran three straight times after a holding penalty made it first-and-20, and still got a first down. That represented one of Seattle's seven successful third-down conversions out of 12 attempts, a big improvement after going 0 for 10 on third down last week. One play after Carson and Davis combined to run for 20 yards on those three carries, Davis found the end zone on a 6-yard run on which Fluker pancaked five-time Pro-Bowler Ndamukong Suh.
With Carson going over 100 yards against Dallas in Week 3, and Davis eclipsing that mark last week with Carson injured, the Seahawks have a 100-yard rusher in three straight games, something that last happened when Marshawn Lynch went over 100 yards in four straight games to close out the 2012 regular season.
Yet as good as the Seahawks were on offense, the Rams also had a big day, particularly in the passing game where Jared Goff had five completions of 20-plus yards. Seattle's defense made some plays, including two more interceptions, but was ultimately undone by big plays and missed tackles.
"We ran the football like we wanted to," Carroll said. "We controlled the field like we needed to; third downs were terrific. We took care of the ball, ran it for a bunch, really gave us a chance to be in the game against a team that has a loaded offense on the other side. We weren't able to hold it down (on defense) enough to get it done. A lot of open field misses for us, a lot of spread-field stuff that wound up going in their favor. They did a great job. They really did what they have been doing on offense with the throwing game. The running game looks deceiving because they had a 50 yard fly play there, but we held them under 100 yards for everybody else. That part of it was one of the aspects of the game we thought we could do, we wanted to try to get done. So that worked out, but there were too many explosive passing plays."
Wilson, who passed for 198 yards, three touchdowns and had a 132.5 passer rating, came out of the game disappointed but also upbeat about his team's potential.
"We're always disappointed when we lose," Wilson said. "It's never easy. But I do think that it's very upbeat in the sense that we're right where we want to be and in the sense of we're about to turn a corner we feel like. We really feel like we're about to turn a corner and we're going to keep believing and keep working hard. Great things are going to happen through that and I think that's always the key. Just keeping our heads up and keep working on what we want to do."
In the end, there are no moral victories in the NFL and the Seahawks know that, but they also know that if they keep playing like they did on Sunday, particularly on offense, the actual victories will start piling up for them as the season goes along.
"We did a lot of great things today," said receiver Tyler Lockett, who had three catches for 98 yards, including a 39-yard touchdown. "There's a lot of great things to look at when we watch film. We did a tremendous job running the ball. We did a real good job being able to convert third downs, keep the drives going. We did everything that we wanted to be able to do. Unfortunately, we just fell short, but there are a lot of good things to take away from this. Obviously, we lost which nobody wants to lose a game like that, but if we play like that the rest of these games, nobody's going to stop us. We're going to be unstoppable."
Game action photos from the Seattle Seahawks' 33-31 loss at home in Week 5 of the 2018 NFL season.