SEATTLE – Just one week ago, the Legion of Boom era was shuttered with ugly finality – Earl Thomas being carted off the field with his leg in an air cast and his middle finger displayed to the Seattle Seahawks sideline as stiff and extended as if it were in a splint of its own.
And on Sunday, just about everyone else took up the theme.
Who wasn’t giving the Seahawks the bird in a 33-31 loss to the unbeaten Los Angeles Rams that was half heartbreaking, half forehead-slapping?
The Rams certainly did, getting 20 yards almost any time they needed a couple – and more insulting still, even when top receivers Brandin Cooks and Cooper Kupp were sidelined with concussions.
Fate did. How else to explain the Seahawks’ chances of pulling out the upset of the NFL weekend being undone by a same-old, same-old implosion of the offensive line – after it had played impeccably all afternoon?
Even the 12s did.
No sooner had the game ended than Pete Carroll was being roasted on social media for his timeout management in the final 99 seconds. Man, you’d think the guy had called for a slant pass on the goal line.
And yet, much as they did with E.T.’s already iconic gesture, the Seahawks managed to not to notice.
“We made a great team look regular,” insisted cornerback Shaquill Griffin, “and we’re going to see them again.”
Well, OK. It’s a long flight to London for next Sunday’s game with Oakland, and you have to have something to deafen the criticism besides a $1,000 set of noise-canceling headphones.
So you had Russell Wilson standing at a podium insisting that the 2-3 Seahawks were “about to turn a corner” – when, in fact, corners are turned with actual victories over championship-level teams and not just a fun shootout that saw more progress in the run game, encouraging as that might be.
But then, this is the state of the Seahawks, as has been limned from the season’s first snap. No longer defined by a wicked defense, Seattle grasps for interim identities.
On this day, it was being able to run the ball – an astonishing 190 yards worth – against a Rams defense fronted by the fearsome Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh. This was the attack Carroll envisioned in recapturing the Seahawks’ old offensive mojo, and it required the explosive Rams to have to play catch-up on four different occasions.
“They haven’t seen a team that’s played physical,” crowed guard D.J. Fluker. “They want to be pass rushers. They haven’t seen a team go out there and actually take it to them every single play.
“Everybody gets terrified with (No.) 99 (Donald) and 93 (Suh). We weren’t terrified.”
But they did flinch. Needing some sort of score out of at least one of their two fourth-quarter possessions, the Seahawks came up with nothing – allowing a sack by Suh to snuff the first, and then drawing flags for a false start (Germain Ifedi, white courtesy phone) and holding (Fluker).
“They called a penalty,” Fluker groused. “It cost us the game.”
Carroll was even more explicit.
“We’re going to kick a field goal and win the football game, go home,” he said. “We ran the ball 32 times on the day, I think, and they ran it 30, so there were 60-something runs, and it comes down to ‘Let’s throw that flag right there.’ It just pissed me off.”
The Seahawks might have had another chance had Carroll used his timeouts before the two-minute warning and not given the Rams the extra time to think about going for it on fourth down with 1:39 to go. But they still would have had to stop Jared Goff’s sneak that sealed it.
And the fact is, they didn’t stop much of anything all day. The Rams rolled up 468 yards, even with Cooks and Kupp out the entire second half. No fewer than 14 L.A. plays went for 15 or more yards and pressure on Goff was nonexistent, which made suggestions by the likes of Bradley McDougald that Seattle had made a “statement” all the more bizarre.
The real statement was that while the Seahawks summoned their best offensive performance of the season, they also squandered a great opportunity to beat one of the NFL’s top five teams. They’re at a point in their renovation that they probably have to be perfect to do that – but if they’re going to live on the pretense that they remain among the elite, perfect is what they’re going to have to be.
But you still can admire the attitude. Defensive end Frank Clark defiantly got out of a hospital bed and got his first career interception playing on “noodle legs” after a bout with food poisoning cost him 12 pounds and required six IVs.
“Don’t eat turkey burgers by Butterball,” he warned.
That seems to be the extent of the Seahawks’ bird-flipping at the moment. Time to expand the menu.
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