Burned here multiple times before, the Seahawks tried to beat the Rams at their own, special-teams game.
And after spending all offseason believing – knowing – Marshawn Lynch could gain 1 yard with the game on the line – he could not. Not behind Seattle’s new, swarmed offensive line.
Those were only two of many galling, inexplicable plays in Seattle’s 34-31 loss in overtime to St. Louis on Sunday at the suddenly, unusually noisy Edward Jones Dome.
“It’s always weird with the Rams,” Richard Sherman said after Seattle’s third loss in four games here.
So weird, the All-Pro cornerback got uncharacteristically beaten on an outside route by Stedman Bailey and perfect throw by new Rams quarterback Nick Foles to set up St. Louis’ go-ahead field goal in overtime.
That was after coach Pete Carroll’s fateful decision to try a lofted, “pooch” kick to begin overtime. It backfired when Steven Hauschka woefully mis-hit the ball barely 10 yards instead of over the heads of the Rams’ first line of their kickoff return unit. St. Louis recovered, and all it took for the Rams to get in position for the lead was one first down, one pass over Sherman. That led to Greg Zuerlein’s go-ahead field goal to begin the extra period.
“The kick was off,” Carroll said afterward, immediately dismissing the idea it was called what it ended up looking like, an onside kick.
On the Seahawks’ ensuing drive that had to end in a score per NFL overtime rules, Lynch tried to run left on 4th and 1 from the St. Louis 42. The Rams swarmed every hole along in this area code. Lynch got engulfed by half the Rams defense to stunningly end Sunday’s opener, Seattle’s 34-31 loss at the Edward Jones Dome.
It was Seattle’s third loss in four games here.
Seven months earlier, the Seahawks didn’t give the ball to Lynch on from 1-yard line in the final minute of the Super Bowl. Russell Wilson’s interception instead and that loss to New England has stung the Pacific Northwest since.
This one had far less on the line. But it was almost equally galling.
“It’s a good play. It’s fourth and 1,” said quarterback Russell Wilson, who was sacked six times while rallying to complete 32 of 41 passes for 251 yards and a touchdown to Jimmy Graham that got Seattle within 24-21 and started an 18-point rally in the fourth quarter into the lead.
“We’ve got the best running back in the National Football League,” he said of Lynch, who finished with 73 yards on 18 rushes. “We think we should get it.
“Unfortunately, we didn’t.”
Carroll just about scoffed at the thought he had called an onside kick to start the overtime.
“No, no. We just didn’t execute that. That is not what was supposed to happen,” Carroll said.
Yet it was clear he and special-teams coach had called a special kick to try to exploit what they thought would be a hole in the Rams’ kickoff-return unit: A skied, shorter boot perhaps 20-25 yards downfield into a dead spot in St. Louis’ alignment.
“The plan was to get the ball. That was our overall plan … to get the ball,” said defensive back DeShawn Shead, a member of the kickoff team. “I think it was a bloop, I believe, a bloop kick. But our plan was to get the ball back by any means.”
Hauschka said he’s never kicked an attempt to loft a kickoff so poorly.
“No, not like that,” he said. “So that was a mistake on my part.”
Before all that …
Rookie Tyler Lockett took the first ball he touched in an NFL regular-season game back 57 yards for the Seahawks’ first punt-return touchdown in eight years.
New tight end Jimmy Graham caught the touchdown pass that began a 17-point rally in the fourth quarter.
Offseason free-agent signing Cary Williams then blitzed free from the backside of Rams quarterback Nick Foles, knocked out the ball, recovered the fumble and ran in for the go-ahead touchdown.
“The trifecta,” Williams, the former Philadelphia Eagle, said, calling it his first such play at any level.
But for the second time in as many real games, the Seahawks’ defense that has been the NFL’s top-rated the last two seasons failed to hold a fourth-quarter lead.
The Rams drove 84 yards in 3:46. Dion Bailey, the fill-in for holdout Kam Chancellor at strong safety – the 2014 practice-squad rookie who last week said he hoped the Rams would target him because it would make his “coming-out party more exciting” – fell down trying to cover tight end Lance Kendricks down the left side. Kendricks caught the pass easily from Foles for the touchdown that forced overtime.
Maybe Seahawks defensive tackle Brandon Mebane was right last week when likened to “a Twilight Zone.”
Down 24-14 entering the fourth quarter with the two-thirds full dome unexpectedly jumpin’, Wilson began getting the ball out quickly against the Rams’ incessant blitzing. And Lynch starting romping for huge rushing gains. On third and goal from 7 Lynch got just enough of a blitzing Ram to allow Wilson to throw to Graham just inside the goal line for the new tight ends first touchdown as a Seahawk.
Lynch then carried a Ram across the goal line for the two-point conversion that made it 24-21 and got Seattle in position to rally.
But offensive-line issues and a defense that blew coverages throughout the day ultimately doomed the Seahawks. Wilson got sacked six times Sunday, and has been sacked 18 times in four career games at St. Louis.