It's a rare occurrence that the Seahawks throw up a bit of a dud performance against anyone. However, the Los Angeles Rams tend to force that result more often that just about any team in the NFL.
The Rams thoroughly outplayed the Seahawks on Sunday night in Los Angeles to hand Seattle its first loss since mid-October. Los Angeles posted 455 yards of total offense against the Seahawks and held Seattle without an offensive touchdown for the first time since the regular season opener in 2017 in the 28-12 victory.
"This was a rough night for the Seahawks tonight," head coach Pete Carroll said. "We did not do what we had planned to do, at all. ... Difficult night. You've got to hand it to them. They played great."
Robert Woods and Tyler Higbee carved up the defense with 14 combined catches for 214 yards and a touchdown. Russell Wilson didn't throw a touchdown pass for the first time in over a year and he was sacked five times by the Rams.
The Rams have now posted over 450 yards on total offense in four straight games against the Seahawks going back to last season. The absence of Mychal Kendricks and Ziggy Ansah defensively certainly appeared to be a factor as well as Seattle's pass rush faltered a bit in their absence.
But even with the Rams offense moving up and down the field at times, Seattle's defense did enough to recover and slow down the onslaught in the second half. It was the lack of any real production from the offense that ultimately squandered any chance of a Seahawks win on Sunday night.
The Seahawks now find themselves back behind the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC West standings following their 48-46 win over the New Orleans Saints. It appears destined that the 49ers and Seahawks upcoming meeting in Week 17 will be the deciding contest for the division crown and a significant playoff advantage of playing at home (with a first-round bye likely) or having to go on the road for the duration of the postseason.
Here are the takeaways from the Seahawks 28-12 loss to the Rams:
-- Tyler Lockett's relative disappearance needs to be rectified.
A bad shin bruise coming out of the 49ers game was an easy explanation for why Tyler Lockett looked to be lacking some burst against the Philadelphia Eagles. A bout with the flu last week had Lockett far less than 100 percent for the Monday night win over the Vikings. A confluence of those factors could explain his relative lack of impact against the Rams on Sunday night.
But the reality is Lockett's lack of impact over the last month has become a significant problem for Seattle's offense. Since the injury against the 49ers, Lockett has managed just five catches for 81 yards with no touchdowns over the team's last three games. That includes a zero catch showing against the Vikings last week. Even before the injury against the 49ers, Lockett managed just three catches for 26 yards in that contest as well as Seattle's top wide receiver has struggled to contribute more consistently.
The injury and the flu are certainly a factor in Lockett's lack of production recently. They may still be hampering Lockett in some regard even now. Both are issues that should get better with time as well.
The four catches for 43 yards against the Rams is a step in the right direction, but Seattle will need more out of Lockett for the offense to play to its full potential the rest of the season.
Through the first eight games of the year, Lockett was on pace to set franchise records for catches and receiving yards in a single season. While he's still on pace for a very solid season, the Seahawks are scuffling a bit offensively without Lockett's dynamic effect of stretching the field in the passing game.
-- Quandre Diggs continues to be a home run acquisition for Seahawks
One of the few standout performances of the loss to the Rams was the showing from free safety Quandre Diggs.
Diggs intercepted quarterback Jared Goff twice with one interception being returned 55 yards for Seattle's only touchdown of the night. Diggs has now been responsible for four forced turnovers in his first four games played for Seattle since being acquired in a trade from the Detroit Lions before the deadline in October.
Diggs intercepted Jimmy Garoppolo in his debut against the 49ers in Week 10, forced a fumble against the Philadelphia Eagles the following week, and picked off Goff twice on Sunday night. They were two of the only major highlights of the night for a Seattle team that struggled on both sides of the football.
"He had a chance to make a big play and he just made it look like it was as easy as could be," Carroll said of Diggs. "It's not the first time he's done that. He's a really good ball player. We've been telling you about his savvy and his instincts and how natural a player he is. I thought that was obvious there. Also, the other pick was a really good one too. He went outside of his area to make a play by reading the quarterback and did a great job to come up with that ball too."
The Seahawks acquired Diggs from the Lions for a swap of late-round draft picks. Seattle sent a fifth-round pick to Detroit in exchange for Diggs and a seventh-round pick. While Diggs missed his first two games while recovering from an existing hamstring issue, he's been a key addition over the last month since joining the lineup. Given the lack of cost to acquire Diggs in the first place, his arrival has been a massive coup for Seattle.
-- Rashaad Penny suffers "significant" ACL tear, serves massive blow to Seattle offense.
The Seahawks suffered a significant loss on just the sixth offensive snap of Sunday night's game when Rashaad Penny injured his left knee at the end of a 16-yard gain on a screen pass.
Penny caught a quick screen that was very similar to his touchdown reception against the Vikings last week and found plenty of open space. But as Penny tried to evade the tackle of Rams safety Taylor Rapp, his knee buckled and he immediately reached for the area once on the turf. Penny was evaluated on the sidelined before being taken to the locker room. He was officially declared out shortly after.
Carroll said after the game that Penny has a "significant" ACL sprain but will need to do further tests to determine the full extent of the injury. A sprained ACL would almost certainly end Penny's season and serve as a major blow to Seattle's offense the rest of the way.
"He's got an ACL sprain," Carroll said. "We don't know how serious it is but it's significant."
Penny has given Seattle's rushing attack an explosive element in recent weeks to complement the power rushing of Chris Carson. Penny's loss forced the team to turn C.J. Prosise when Carson needed a break. The result was just one carry for two yards and a fumbled hand off exchange between Prosise and Wilson that Wilson had to fall on to avoid a turnover.
Prosise and rookie Travis Homer will have to step up in Penny's absence. Seattle doesn't have any running backs on their practice squad so an addition to that unit would be expected as well. Xavier Turner was with the team during training camp and is still a free agent after being released by the Seahawks during final roster cuts. He could be an option to return the team now that Penny appears to be out for the season.
-- General sloppiness came back to bite Seahawks
A handful of little errors when added together amounted to a big problem for Seattle on Sunday night.
Dropped passes, sluggish pre-snap alignments defensively, putting the ball on the ground and untimely penalties all helped contribute to sinking the team's chances against the Rams.
The Seahawks managed to go just 5 of 14 on third down and failed to convert a key fourth down try early on as well. Malik Turner had a pass go through his hands on fourth-and-1 at the Rams 24-yard line in the second quarter as Seattle trailed 14-3. It would be the closest the team would get to the Rams goal line on offense until the fourth quarter when the game was already well in hand for the Rams. Jacob Hollister also dropped a third down pass that would have netted a first down on the team's next offensive series that scuttled a chance to maintain possession as well. The Rams followed that up with a 72-yard scoring drive to take a 21-3 lead into halftime.
Prosise and Wilson had the one fumbled exchange on a handoff and David Moore dropped a punt as well. While the Seahawks maintained possession in both instances, it was two dangerous plays for Seattle.
Defensively, the Seahawks routinely were slow to get aligned correctly before the snap as the Rams shifting and motions had Seattle on their heels. The Rams managed to exploit those chances for a handful of big plays as the defense struggled to get off the field at times.
Then despite all of those errors, Seattle trailed 21-9 with a minute left in the third quarter and decent field position to begin a drive after a Rams' three-and-out when DK Metcalf gets called for an unnecessary roughness penalty for getting in a post-play scrap with cornerback Jalen Ramsey. Seattle failed to dig out of the second-and-23 hole the penalty put them in and the Rams responded with a 95-yard drive to seal the deal after Seattle's punt.
Photo Credit: LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 08: Running back Todd Gurley #30 of the Los Angeles Rams stiff arms cornerback Tre Flowers #21 of the Seattle Seahawks on his way to a touchdown in the fourth quarter of the game at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on December 08, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)