Poor discipline and an even more poor performance on special teams doomed the Seattle Seahawks in a 28-26 loss to the St. Louis Rams on Sunday at Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis.
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Seattle allowed the Rams to convert two key special teams trick-plays that ultimately became a large reason the Seahawks lost the game.
Penalties also destroyed the Seahawks — they had 10 of them go for 89 yards while St. Louis had two go for 20.
And, while Seattle was in the middle of a comeback bid, a clear fumble by the Rams’ Tre Mason that appeared to be recovered by the Seahawks with a minute left in the game, was ruled non-reviewable and the Rams held onto the ball in the last play of the game while beating the Seahawks for the first time since September 2012.
Needless to say, it was just not the Seahawks day.
The Seahawks were the first on the scoreboard when Steven Hauschka capped a nine-play, 68-yard drive with a 24-yard field goal.
But the Rams took control of the game for the rest of the half.
A 75-yard kickoff return by Benny Cunningham set up Mason to score his first NFL touchdown with 5:19 left in the first quarter. The score gave St. Louis a 7-3 lead.
Cunningham then caught a touchdown of his own early in the second quarter, a 5-yard strike from Austin Davis, who was a perfect 9-for-9 on his passes in the first half and finished the game with 152 passing yards.
That made it a 14-3 game before the Rams pulled an incredible punt return trick-play out of their bag of, well, tricks.
Jon Ryan booted a deep punt that appeared to be headed towards Tavon Austin, who waved his arms around like he was preparing to catch the ball. The Seahawks special teams unit bit and started running toward Austin, but the ball actually landed near the opposite sideline, right into the hands of Stedman Bailey.
Bailey ran nearly untouched 90 yards for the touchdown and the Seahawks had no idea what had hit them.
The touchdown meant the Rams had rattled off 21-straight points to take a commanding 21-3 lead which the Seahawks narrowed to 21-6 with seconds left in the half.
Seattle struggled throughout the first half on all ends of the ball, but they woke up in the second half.
Russell Wilson scored the only touchdown of the third quarter, a 19-yard QB keeper off the read-option where the defense bit hard on a fake handoff to Marshawn Lynch, allowing Wilson to practically walk into the endzone.
That score made it a 21-13 game and the Seahawks made it 21-19 in the fourth quarter courtesy of a Wilson to Cooper Helfet pass play. Helfet athletically got both feet in bounds, held onto the ball and scored his first professional touchdown. He finished the game with three catches for 61 yards.
The Seahawks tried a 2-point play afterwards and came up short, giving the Rams the ball back with a 21-19 lead and 9:44 left in the contest.
The Rams graciously moved the ball right back down the field and scored a touchdown, Davis’ second TD pass of the game, to take a 28-19 lead with 5:36 remaining.
Unphased, Wilson led the Seahawks down the field the other way, driving 80 yards in a little more than two minutes and scoring a touchdown to make it a 28-26 game with the Rams still on top. The drive ended when Wilson hit Doug Baldwin for a 9-yard TD, Baldwin’s first of the year.
Oct 19, 2014; St. Louis, MO, USA; Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch (24) rushes for 13 yard during the first half against the St. Louis Rams at the Edward Jones Dome. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
Seattle’s defense knew they needed a big stop with a little more than three minutes left in the game and they got one, forcing a fourth down with 2:55 left.
But the Rams pulled another play out of their bag of tricks and faked the punt, completing a pass on fourth down to get the first, maintain possession and ultimately win the game — or so it seemed.
The Rams still had to run out the clock, and with 1:06 left, Mason fumbled the ball and the Seahawks landed on top of it.
But the referees did not review the play and though Pete Carroll vehemently protested, the ball was given back to the Rams with no replay reviews.
The Rams kneeled the ball from there and won the game, even though the Seahawks recovery would have been in Hauschka’s field goal range and he would have had enough time to, potentially, win the game.
Down 21-3 at one point, the Seahawks simply dug themselves into too deep a hole to leave St. Louis with a victory, and they lost 28-26.
Seattle outplayed the Rams but shot themselves in the foot with penalties, as has been a problem for a number of weeks now.
As mentioned earlier, the Seahawks were called for 10 penalties that went against them for 89 yards while the Rams had just two penalties for 20 yards.
It seemed as though every time the Seahawks made a great play, someone was called for holding to bring the play back.
Baldwin led the team in receptions and receiving yards, stepping up in the new absence of Percy Harvin. Baldwin had seven catches for 123 yards and a touchdonw.
He was targeted 11 times, showing that he may become Wilson’s favorite receiver.
Wilson, meanwhile, shined and proved he is the team’s most valuable player.
He threw for 313 yards, a season-high, and two touchdowns while rushing for 106 yards and a touchdown. He also had a franchise-record 52-yard run in the third quarter, which was the longest run from scrimmage from a quarterback.
Marshawn Lynch had 18 carries for 53 yards and while the gameplan certainly fed the Beast, everytime he broke free a penalty set him back. He had run of 12 and nine yards called back and a touchdown called back because of holding.
Six games into the season, the Seahawks have lost as many games as they did all of last year.
Now they have to prepare for the Carolina Panthers (3-3-1) next week.
Seattle will remain comfortably in third place in the NFC West when the weekend ends and they need to figure out something fast if they have any hope of making it to the postseason.