LOS ANGELES – After Russell Wilson hit Tyler Lockett for a 53-yard gain on the first play of Seattle's final possession of the game, it looked for a moment like the Seahawks offense might have some more late-game magic in it. A week ago, the Seahawks struggled to move the ball against Miami for most the game, but Wilson and company came through when it mattered most, putting together a 75-yard game-winning drive.
This time, however, there would be no late-game heroic, and the Seahawks fell to the Los Angeles Rams by a 9-3 final score that left head coach Pete Carroll disappointed in his team's ability to score points. Through two games, the Seahawks have scored 15 points, and that Week 1 game-winning pass to Doug Baldwin represents the team's only touchdown thus far.
"I never could have thought we would go the first couple weeks and not score but one touchdown," Carroll said. "I'm surprised by that; we're better than that. We're going to go back to work and zero in. It's early in the year and we have a lot of stuff we can get better at and improve, and we're going to do that."
As Carroll notes, it's early, and true to his "it's not how you start, it's how you finish" mantra, the Seahawks have pretty regularly been a better team late in the season than early under Carroll, so while disappointed in Sunday's performance, players are also optimistic about what is to come.
"We look forward to the next opportunity to play," Wilson said. "We've got to get better across the board, but once we do, it's going to be a sight to see… We're not far off by any means. I've told you guys this before. We're not far off at all. We've got a great group of guys."
When Wilson says he has "told you guys this before," he's including last season when the Seahawks went through some early-season struggles, only to catch fire late in the year, finishing the season ranked fourth in the league both in scoring and total yards.
"I have all the confidence in the world in what we're doing," Wilson said. "… I think we're way better than we were last year at the beginning. We've played two very good defenses to start off. Miami's defensive line is as good as it gets, and the Rams, same thing. They're an active group, they do tons of stuff. That's one of the toughest defenses we'll face all year because there's so much stuff they do."
In particular, Carroll was disappointed in his team going just 4-for-13 on third down, making it hard to sustain drives.
"Our third down has to go up again," Carroll said. "We have to get our third downs going on offense and keep converting.
"I don't think it's the offensive line. I just think we have to do better. We have to come out and be a little more complete, we've got to convert on third down like we like to, like we did in the second half last year—we're a little behind schedule there. I'm surprised by that, we've worked really hard at that. I think we're going to show we're good at that. I think that was the difference in both of these games."
And it would be doing a disservice to the way the Rams defense played to just say the Seahawks struggled on offense. Los Angeles' talented defense—and the line in particular—was a big factor in keeping Seattle's offense in check.
"These guys are fantastic," Carroll said of the Rams defense. "We've faced two great defensive lines, and I think our guys have learned a lot. I thought they protected well today, for the most part, and gave us a chance. I thought we protected better than we have in past games against these guys."
Added Wilson: "They always play us tough. We have a ton of respect for who they are."
Making things more difficult for the offense was the fact that the Seahawks were backed up all afternoon when it came to field position. Of Seattle's 10 possessions, three started at the 25 after touchbacks, while the other seven all started inside the 20, for an average starting field position at the 17-yard line. That meant that even when the Seahawks moved the ball well enough to pick up a few first downs on a given possession, it wasn't enough to lead to a score.
"I feel like we're close," said left tackle Bradley Sowell. "We're not going three-and-out, stuff like that. We're just not finishing drives… We'd get three or four first downs, then boom we're punting. That's a tough job, but it's still our job to get points. We have the talent to get a lot of points here, and there's going to be a game here where we explode."
And while players saying they expect to turn things around is what is to be expected after a tough loss, this is more than just a case of players saying the right thing; the Seahawks have a track record of turning things around as the season goes on. When the offense wasn't at its best early last season as the Seahawks started 4-4, Wilson and others kept saying they were close, then after the bye the Seahawks averaged 32 points over the final eight games.
"We've got a saying, it's not how you start, it's how you finish, whether that's a game or the season," receiver Jermaine Kearse said. "We've got to continue to just keep grinding."
Added receiver Tyler Lockett: "It's not anything that's going to hurt us. It's going to make us grow."
So yes, the Seahawks are confident they'll turn things around going forward, but on Sunday against a tough Rams defense, it was a struggle on offense.
"We've got to do better than 3 points," tight end Jimmy Graham said. "That's not good… We know we're better than this, so we need to put it together. We've got too many playmakers on this side of the ball, and we've got to put it together."
The Seahawks fall 9-3 in their first road game of the 2016 season against the Los Angeles Rams.