The Seahawks lost to the Rams Tuesday night in a game that felt like so many others that haven't gone Seattle's way this season.
An offense that has been inconsistent for most of the season struggled to sustain drives and didn't convert often on third down, meaning a big disparity in time of possession; a defense that has done so many things well once again had a strong game overall, but gave up a few too many big plays and long drives; and most significantly, a team that over the years has been so good at coming out on top in close games was not able to get the finish it needed to get a win.
And when the dust had settled, the Rams came out of the evening with a 20-10 win that dropped Seattle's record to 5-9, ensuring the first losing record for the Seahawks since 2011, the year before Russell Wilson and Bobby Wagner arrived in Seattle, and the second season under the leadership of Pete Carroll and John Schneider. And barring some highly unlikely scenarios playing out over the next three weeks, the loss also means the Seahawks will miss the postseason for just the second time since Wilson and Wagner's rookie season. Losing record or not, however, the Seahawks plan to keep fighting.
"We're playing for each other," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "We playing for the cause of loving this game, and loving the guys that are in the locker room with us and playing for one another. The relationships that you build during the course of a season like this are unforgettable, and they connect you so that you keep babbling, because that's what it is, that's what it feels like. You saw how hard we played tonight. There was there was nothing but guys fighting for one another, and so that's what we'll do, wherever we're playing whoever we're playing whenever it happens. It doesn't matter if it's Tuesday night or Sunday or whatever, we're going to go ahead and go. We'll overcome the issues and get back to playing, and focus on the things that make us have a chance by practicing well and studying hard and caring and loving this game. And we're going to do everything we can to get every single drop out of it as we go down the stretch here."
While the Seahawks are not officially eliminated from the playoffs, the odds of getting in, even if they win out to finish 8-9, are not good. It's not just that the Seahawks are two games out of the final Wild Card spot, currently eld by the 7-7 Vikings, with three games to play, it's also that there are so many teams between them and a playoff spot, including three—Washington, Minnesota and New Orleans—that own a head-to-head tiebreaker, and there are five teams between Seattle and Minnesota that own better conference records, the first tiebreaker that comes into play if more than two teams are tied.
Yet as tough as that reality may be to swallow for a team that is used to winning 10-plus games a year and going to the playoffs, as Carroll noted, nobody is planning on shutting down and going through the motions over the final three weeks.
"All I know is, we're going to approach it as we've got a job to do, and we have an opportunity to go play as tough as we can, as hard as we can for our fan, and for our families and our careers, try to do things right," quarterback Russell Wilson said. "We're always going to try to do things in the right manner, the right approach and at the highest level… The next day is the only day we get, so we're going to do everything we can to give it all that we have. That's the only approach we know.
"I'm going to stay encouraged, I don't know any other way. I'm going to give everything I have for these guys in this locker room, and for Seattle, for our fans, everything I have every day. I love this game, and every day I'm going to come with the right approach and the right mindset, and I know everybody else is going to do that same."
Particularly disappointing to Wilson is the fact that, beginning with an overtime loss to Tennessee in Week 2, the Seahawks have struggled to close out one-score games, something that has been a strength of past teams under Carroll. This season, the Seahawks are 2-4 in one-score games, including two overtime losses, and they also had the ball with a chance to tie or take the lead late in both losses to the Rams that ended up decided by double-digit margins, and even were within 3 points in the fourth quarter of their 17-point loss to the Packers before Green Bay pulled away with two fourth-quarter touchdowns.
"A few games just kind of got away from us," Wilson said. "What I do know is that I'm grateful for each guy that's is giving everything every day, and I don't expect anything to change with that in terms of their mentality, our mentality how we're going to work at it every day and work at our craft. That's the character of guys that we have in the room. We've always created such a high standard of playing and winning, and have just found ways to just win these close games, and this year unfortunately we weren't able to do it. All I know is we've got three more left, and we're going to give everything we have."
The process of getting back on track will include a short turnaround this week, with the Seahawks having only four days between their loss to the Rams and their Week 16 game against the Bears. The NFL moved the game against the Rams due to a spike in COVID-19 cases on L.A.'s roster, creating a tough situation for the Seahawks heading into their next game, but players know the Bears care neither about the Seahawks' short week, nor about how disappointed they may or may not be about their current record.
"We've got to keep pushing," said safety Quandre Diggs, who snagged his team-leading fifth interception in Tuesday's loss. "The Chicago Bears don't care how we feel on Sunday when we go in there, so at the end of the day, we've got to keep pushing. We've got to go. That's your job. Do what your job is to do, and if your job is to play football, go play ball. It is what it is."
Like his coach and his quarterback, Diggs fully expects the team to keep battling regardless of what is or isn't at stake in terms of postseason chances.
"You're always going to play for man on the left or right are you," Diggs said. "That's just that's what it is. These relationships are really bigger that football. So for me, of course I'm going to go out there and thug it out for my teammates, bumps, bruises, all of that. I've got a job to do, and my job is play football. I'm going to go out there each and every day and be the best me I can be so I can help this team win and we can finish with a bang. I've been in these situations before (in Detroit) where you really have a slim chance to make the playoffs. So at the end of the day, you've got to fight and you've got to trust in the people next to you, and you fight through to the tough end of the season."
The 12s packed SoFi Stadium to watch the Seattle Seahawks take on the Los Angeles Rams on December 21, 2021.