SEATTLE – When historians come to write of the Great Comeuppance of the Dynasty That Wasn’t, much will be made of the sorry Sunday at CenturyLink Field, when the proud – or is that haughty? – spirit of the Seattle Seahawks flickered just once.
When they returned to the field to play the second half.
Up to that point of the afternoon, there had been no indication the Seahawks had such gumption in them.
As it was, the Seahawks were in a five-touchdown hole with the Los Angeles Rams shoveling in dirt. Only once in the Pete Carroll era had Seattle ever trailed at home by a more lopsided margin at halftime – against the New York Giants in 2010.
Which sparked the question: Why the hell do the Seahawks need to pay Russell Wilson if they can achieve the same results with Charlie Whitehurst?
Jesting, of course.
Blaming the quarterback for the 42-7 noogie the Rams put on Seattle on Sunday is akin to pinning the sinking of the Titanic on the ship’s first-chair violin not having enough rosin on the bow.
“This was a ‘we’ thing,” said Seattle coach Pete Carroll.
As in, “We stunk.”
Or, “We’re finished.”
Or, “We’re barely a shadow of the team that’s owned the hearts and minds of a region for the last five years.”
Some complex algebra says the Seahawks can still qualify the NFL playoffs next month, although it seems much closer to fantasy than anything the Covfefe in Chief dismisses as fake news. Still, it almost seems beside the point. Yes, there’s a chance the Seahawks who took down the team with the best record in pro football just two weeks ago might show up. But if it’s Sunday’s hot mess instead, what will being a wild-card victim prove?
There was no real mystery to the “how” part of the Rams’ romp. Unlike in their stubbed-toe loss to the Seahawks in Los Angeles back in October, they invested in star running back Todd Gurley, who delivered mightily – 152 yards rushing, three touchdowns, another on a catch. His 57-yard bolt through a Strait of Juan de Fuca-wide hole on third-and-20 was the day’s signature moment.
“You don’t want to make the same mistake again,” said Rams coach Sean McVay. “Todd makes you right.”
It didn’t hurt that superior special teams play – and a couple fumbles – gave the Rams possession on the 50 or closer six times in the first half alone. Or that their early lead allowed the defense to come after Wilson with malice.
And let’s be honest – without Wilson, there is no Seahawks offense. There are anonymous running backs spinning their wheels behind that sub-ordinary line, there are some OK wideouts and a once-upon-a-time-all-star tight end who takes whole games off. Without Wilson, there would be a puddle where his surrogate once stood, served up as sacrifice. Russell Wilson running for his life is Seattle’s offense, against the better teams anyway and often against the worst.
Yet even he was horrible: 71 net yards passing, seven sacks, intentional grounding for a safety, a fumble, a beyond-the-line-of-scrimmage penalty and a 23-yard backwards pass that luckily went out of bounds.
And the defense? It looks exactly like a defense which has lost Kam Chancellor, Richard Sherman, Cliff Avril and K.J. Wright is supposed to look, with Bobby Wagner playing at half speed.
But that still doesn’t explain how the Seahawks never showed up for this NFC West showdown.
“It pisses you off more than anything else,” admitted guard Justin Britt, and even Carroll acknowledged that “This is the only game you’ve ever seen us play like this.”
After their Super Bowl win in 2014, the youthful makeup of Seattle’s team triggered more than a few dynasty-in-the-making takes. The Great Goal Line Slant catastrophe struck in the next Super Bowl, and then the Seahawks had to start paying their stars. The delicate balance was gone – and with key players both injured and aging and the parameters of trades for the likes of Duane Brown and Sheldon Richardson, it appeared that even management saw this as something of a last chance to recoup some glory.
That’s unraveled in the two weeks since that impressive beating of Philadelphia. Jacksonville all but took the Seahawks’ soul a week ago when they lost their cool in the final minute. By Sunday night, they were scrapping a bit with themselves, started when safety Earl Thomas second-guessed Wagner’s decision to play hurt, noting rather harmlessly that “you normally see Wags running from sideline to sideline and he just couldn’t do it today.”
It wasn’t long before Wagner took to Twitter to answer: “E keep my name out yo mouth. Stop being jealous of other people success. I still hope you keep balling bro.”
But, hey, bring on Dallas.
“Every time you lose is a shock,” said defensive end Michael Bennett. “Whether you lose by one or you lose by 50, it’s always the same feeling.”
No sale on that this morning.
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