Jimmy Graham not only surprised the Seahawks with how quickly he came back from a tricky, major knee injury.
He surprised himself.
“Me?” the $40 million tight end asked in the tunnel of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, following his three catches for 42 yards against the Rams on Sunday. “I think I’m back earlier than everyone thought I’d be.”
Then he chuckled and walked to the Seahawks team bus following their 9-3 loss.
It was Graham’s second game back from a torn patellar tendon that he suffered on Nov. 29.
Tyler Lockett was on the sideline with a sprained knee for most of Sunday’s offensive slog. And Doug Baldwin was saying he was “feeling like crap,” playing with back spasms and a knee that will need an MRI this week.
So Seattle’s offense could have used Graham. More than it used him, at least. Especially in the red zone. Stop us if you’ve heard that before.
Russell Wilson targeted his 6-foot-6 man four times. Late in the first quarter, with the Seahawks having second and third downs from the Rams 5, Wilson didn’t throw to Graham.
The quarterback got pressured into a throwaway out of the end zone the first time.
On third down, Graham was the only receiver to the right, tight on the line. He ran an out route in the end zone. But Wilson didn’t look that way, or wait for Graham to make his cut there. The quarterback went to the opposite side, to a covered Jermaine Kearse on an out route.
The Rams’ Lamarcus Joyner broke up the pass. That forced a field goal, Seattle’s only points.
It was the only time the Seahawks got inside the Rams’ 20.
Graham has five catches on six targets among Wilson’s 78 pass attempts through two games.
Yes, he is back months ahead of when many thought he’d be — after an injury that sidelined the New York Giants’ Victor Cruz for two seasons.
But Graham is not satisfied. Also unsatisfying is Seattle’s offense, which has 15 points with one touchdown in eight quarters.
“Satisfied? No. I’m trying to win,” Graham said. “I’m trying to get in the end zone, and I’m trying to play better and better.
“We better figure some things out here and put some points on the board. … We’ve got to do better than three points. That’s not good.
“I feel fine. I feel the same. I feel like a beast. I’ll play more and more, and I’ll get more and more opportunities. I just want to be there for my guys and be there for my team.”
Lockett walked slowly into the locker room in the first half against the Rams, and his return was ruled questionable because of a knee sprain. He didn’t come out onto the field with the rest of his teammates after halftime.
But Lockett eventually got back on the sideline, declared himself able to play and came up with a 53-yard reception that kept the Seahawks’ hopes alive in the final two minutes.
“It hurts a little bit, but pain is only temporary,” Lockett said. “I’m not going to stop fighting or quit. I can play with anything I have, regardless what it is.”
Lockett led Seattle with 99 receiving yards on four catches. In his absence, receiver Paul Richardson was put back to return kickoffs, and returned one for 20 yards. Cornerback Richard Sherman fielded punts, making two fair catches.
When Lockett got back on the field for the last drive, he went to everyone in the Seahawks huddle and slapped their shoulders or poked them in the chest.
I was just saying, ‘Let’s go, forget about everything that happened,’ ” he said. “That last series, that was the only one that mattered.”
Lockett is obviously becoming a favorite of Wilson. He has 12 targets in two games, with seven catches.
RAWLS GOES OUT
Christine Michael could be the Seahawks’ main man in the backfield, post-Marshawn Lynch, after all.
Michael emerged as the focal point — and just about the only point — of the Seahawks’ running game. That’s because Thomas Rawls missed the final 2 1/2 quarters with a leg injury.
This was Rawls’ first start and second game since he broke his ankle on Dec. 13. He’s got some new rehabilitation to do before he can play next weekend at home against San Francisco.
“He got kicked in the lower leg. He’s got a contusion,” coach Pete Carroll said of Rawls. “But the X-rays were fine. So he’s just going to be sure, and he’s got to come back from that.”
Michael had 60 yards on 10 carries before his fumble on a catch cost Seattle its final chance, at the Rams’ 27 in the final minute.
Asked what Carroll said to him following the fumble, Michael said: “Nothing, man. Don’t hold my head down.
“They’ll come right back to me next week, man. Just go back and get better.”
Right guard Germain Ifedi was out again because of his sprained ankle, and J’Marcus Webb started his second consecutive game in place of Seattle’s first-round pick in May’s draft.
The Seahawks made rookie third-down back C.J. Prosise inactive. The third-round pick was trying to play with a protective covering over a cracked bone in his hand, an injury he received in last week’s opener.
Once Rawls got hurt, and with Wilson playing on a sprained ankle, Seattle’s running game was basically down to Michael and rookie fifth-round pick Alex Collins.
Tight end Nick Vannett, another third-round choice, remained out with a high-ankle sprain.
The other inactives Sunday: rookie WR Tanner McEvoy, rookie CB DeAndre Elliott, LB Dewey McDonald, DT Garrison Smith.
This was the first time in the 36-game series between the Seahawks and Rams that the winning team scored fewer than 14 points. ... Seattle scored its fewest points against the Rams since Carroll’s first season as coach: a 20-3 loss in St. Louis on Oct. 3, 2010.
The News Tribune’s Dave Boling contributed to this report.