SEATTLE – They ran the ball with attitude, again.
Afforded time to throw and run deep routes after all the effective rushing, Russell Wilson and Tyler Lockett played rainbow pitch and catch.
But the Seahawks’ depleted, changed defense ultimately could not stop the Los Angeles Rams’ soaring offense when it had to. And when the offensive line that has excelled all day committed two mammoth penalties at the end, suddenly the Seahawks were way behind the defending champions in the NFC West.
Chris Carson ran for a career-high 116 yards on 19 carries. Wilson threw three touchdown passes, including two to David Moore for the first two scores of his career. But Todd Gurley’s three touchdown runs and Seattle allowing 468 yards of offense from the top-ranked one in the NFL was decisive in the end of the Seahawks’ 33-31 loss Sunday at CenturyLink Field, which was roaring like it was 2014 again.
Los Angeles (5-0) already has a three-game lead on Seattle (2-3) before all the leaves are off the trees, after Seattle was one perhaps one penalty away from being one game back.
With Seattle leading 31-24 in the fourth quarter the Rams answered Wilson’s second touchdown pass of the second half to Moore by driving to the Seahawks 10-yard line. Linebacker Barkevious Mingo made a huge tackle after a catch to force the Rams into fourth-and-2. Seattle cornerback Shaquill Griffin then hit Rams receiver Robert Woods before Jared Goff’s pass arrived in the right flat for pass interference and a L.A. first down at the 5.
Gurley got his third touchdown run of the game on the next play. But Cairo Santos, filling in for injured Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein, shanked the ensuing point after touchdown wide. That kept the Seahawks ahead, 31-30, with 14:50 left.
Santos redeemed himself with a 39-yard field goal that put the Rams back ahead 33-31, with 6:05 remaining.
The Seahawks moved to the Rams 32 on their next possession, on a 44-yard pass from Wilson to Lockett. But then the offense was late getting to line way down the field following the big play. With the play clock expiring, right tackle Germain Ifedi committed a false start.
On first-and-15, right guard D.J. Fluker was caught holding Rams troublesome defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh with whom Fluker has been grappling and jawing all day.
Those penalties turned what would have been a 50-yard field goal try by Sebastian Janikowski for the lead with 3 1/2 minutes left into a 63-yard improbability.
“They called a penalty. Cost us the game,” Fluker said. “I’d been taking him to the water all day.”
Carroll wanted to know why officials saw 62 running plays combined by the two teams and chose that time, that situation, to call Fluker for holding there.
“Unfortunately, we got knocked out of field-goal range with a penalty. It was really disturbing that that happened at that time,” Carroll said.
“Pretty frustrated about this, because we put ourselves in position to win. We hit the big play to Tyler and we’re in field-goal range and we’re going to knock it in. We’re going to run the clock down – they had no time outs – and kick a field goal and win the football game and go home. So, it was right there. …There were 60-something runs and it comes to, let’s throw that flag right there. …There is a lot of plays in that game that probably could have warranted a penalty thrown. And it happened on that play right then.
“It just pisses me off, that that was how this thing ended.”
Thing is, Fluker absolutely held Suh. Grabbed him by the right shoulder with his left hand and pulled it down toward the turf at the point of attack. That was while Seattle’s Mike Davis (68 yards on 12 rushes and a touchdown) ran by for a gain of 5 yards to the Rams 30.
After the penalty on Fluker, Wilson threw incomplete passes twice while pressured. On fourth-and-23 from the Rams 45, the Seahawks punted instead of sending Janikowski out for a 63-yard field goal (the 19-year veteran’s career long is 63 yards, seven years ago for Oakland at mile-high, thin-air Denver).
After Seattle’s punt, the Rams got two first downs. The second one was on a sneak by Goff on fourth-and-inches in Los Angeles’ own end with 1:39 to go, and L.A. ran out the clock from there to win yet again.
The sneak came after the Rams first decided to punt. But Carroll called time out, looking to preserve the clock. But it also allowed Los Angeles a chance to reconsider its options and they went for the first down.
The Seahawks will head to London for next Sunday’s game against Oakland already three games out in the division.
“We have a lot of season left, and we are right where we want to be,” said Wilson, who was 13-for-21 passing for 198 yards and a season-high 132.5 passer rating.
“That’s one of the best teams in the game. …I thought that we showed up and played the way that we need to play.”
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