The Seahawks accomplished a lot in the 2020 season, both on an off the field.
Seattle won the NFC West with a 12-4 record, the team's best record since the 2014 season, several individuals set franchise records on offense, and the defense made a massive midseason turnaround to finish the year playing like one of the best in the NFL. Along the way the Seahawks handled the COVID-19 pandemic as well if not better than any team in the league, having almost no disruptions throughout the seasons, and only three players put on the COVID-19 list over the course of 18 games.
So yes, the Seahawks were feeling pretty good about their season heading into a Wild Card playoff game against the Los Angeles Rams, but those good feelings came to an abrupt and painful end on Saturday afternoon as the Seahawks fell to the Rams 30-20 at Lumen Field.
"I told these guys I have no place in my brain for this outcome," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "We were planning on winning and moving on and getting going and playing really good football and doing the stuff we need to do to win.
"This season has been such an extraordinary year in so many ways and so much around us, and just all that has to do with life. I'm really proud of these guys for hanging tough throughout the whole process of it, being so strict and regimented. To make it through this time as healthy as we did. We've learned a lot, and they've grown a lot in all that we had to come to understand. This football season, it was supposed to just keep going for us and that's the way we were planning. Unfortunately, we weren't able to get it done today. So, a nice job by the Rams, really good by their defense, and they found enough in their running game to keep it going for their offense. It's really frustrating to be done. The suddenness of this, there's nothing like it. You just have to deal with it, so that's what we're going to do. We have meetings tomorrow, and we'll come back and try to figure it out a little bit more and put it in perspective, but really disappointed in this outcome."
As Carroll notes, the Rams defense made life incredibly difficult for Seattle's offense, showing why they finished the regular season allowing the fewest points, yards and passing yards in the NFL. And in addition to struggling to move the ball on that Rams defense, the Seahawks were also undone by two crucial turnovers, a Darious Williams interception of Russell Wilson that he returned for a touchdown, and a D.J. Reed fumble on a punt return that all but ended the Seahawks' comeback hopes when they were already down 10 in the fourth quarter.
It was the Seahawks' fifth game this season with multiple turnovers, and they lost every one of them.
"The two turnovers were really costly, that's how it goes," Carroll said. "You can look at our whole season and when we take care of the football and we don't give it up, we win. Today, being down two, it's really hard to overcome it. You can do it, we just haven't."
And between the turnovers and offensive struggles—as well as a big game from Rams rookie running back Cam Akers—it was enough to cut short a promising season that had the Seahawks thinking bigger than just winning the division or getting to the playoffs.
"It's tough man," safety Jamal Adams said. "Obviously, this wasn't the plan. We can come up with a million and one excuses, but the fact of the matter is, we're not going to do it. Hats go off to L.A., they did a phenomenal job. They controlled the clock and they flipped the field on us a lot of times they made more plays than we did. It's tough to win ballgames when we're not hitting on all cylinders, all three phases. The marathon continues, man, we'll be back. It's not the end of the world. Obviously our season is cut short, but we've got to learn from it and get healthy and come back next year swinging on all cylinders."
Asked if falling short of a Super Bowl made the season a failure, Adams said, "To me it's a failure, that's our goal. It's not about individual goals. It's not about anything else. It's about getting to the Super Bowl and winning it. Obviously, a positive you can take from it is hanging a banner. We did win a division, but at the end of the day we knew what our mission was, and we fell short, so to me it is a failed season. But that doesn't mean anything, that just means we've got another opportunity to get back swinging and fight for a Super Bowl next year. It's just not our year."
Said receiver Tyler Lockett, who set a franchise record with 100 receptions this season, "I mean it's hard for the season to come to an end like this. I don't think anybody expected it or wanted it to happen, but that's what happens when you come to the playoffs. It's win or got home, and the Rams did a phenomenal job against us today. They stopped us in a lot of things we wanted to do, they stopped us in a lot of the explosiveness that we wanted to be able to do in the game."
In addition to two turnovers contributing to their undoing, the other big issue was Seattle's inability to get going on offense for much a game, a continuation of a trend that was a problem in the second half of the season after the Seahawks had one of the league's best offenses early on, leading the league in scoring through eight games. The Seahawks played a tougher stretch of defenses in the second half of the season, to be sure, but Carroll said they also didn't do as good of a job adjusting as they should have.
"What we wanted to do was continue to play-pass and find our chunk opportunities," Carroll said of the passing game struggles. "That doesn't mean we throw the ball over their head all of the time and going for just bombs, but there's a lot of space we create in the play-passing game, and it seemed like during the course of the season, after the half-way point— we had hit so much early—we had been so effective that people found a way to stay back and just try to bleed us and make us have to throw the ball underneath, and we were maybe really going for it more than we needed to and didn't take advantage of switching gears a bit there as effectively as we would like. We like chunking them and like going after them. As I look back now, I have a lot of work to do to figure it out, but I would think that we might think that way a little differently. At one part of the year, it was available, and we took it, and then in the second part of the year, against the really good defenses that we played, they were able to keep us out of that kind of a mode. I wish we would have adapted better under those circumstances."
Instead of preparing for a divisional round game next weekend, the Seahawks will instead have a final team meeting on Sunday, try to process this loss, then start looking ahead to the 2021 season, as well as trying to make sure everyone stays safe as they leave the structure of the team and head home in the midst of an ongoing pandemic.
"We're going to try to find a little bit better place to put it tomorrow," Carroll said. "I didn't have any answers for them today, we're just frustrated about this. Like I said, we didn't plan on getting knocked out; we were planning on finding a way to win this football game, all the way up until—you know how we are—all the way down the stretch. We weren't able to do it, and they had their game, so we have to find a place to put that. Eventually, we will get back to the mentality of getting ready for the next go-round. There's a lot of stuff that everybody has to deal with. I can't even imagine all the stuff our guys are going to have to adapt to once they leave and get out of here, because we've been in a very controlled setting. The world's going crazy out there with the COVID and all that. So I'm concerned for our guys in that regard, we have to figure out how to get our minds right so that we can stay disciplined, stay safe and all of that and protect our families too."
The Seahawks came into the postseason with lofty goals, and instead they made a quick playoff exit. There's still strong belief in the team that it can be great next year and beyond, but first they'll work on moving past the disappointment of Saturday's loss.
"The reality is we have a great football team and I think we have guys, but we didn't play great today, and that's what matters most," quarterback Russell Wilson said. "Throughout the season there is always ebbs and flows… That's just the journey. As a player, I think as an organization too, and as a teammates in the locker room and everything else, you just have to be able to go understand the process of it all. And for us, it's been a crazy year, a year that I was hoping for us to be able to win it all, and we didn't get to do that today."
The best photos from the Seattle Seahawks' Wild Card game vs. the Los Angeles Rams at Lumen Field. Fueled by Nesquik