ST. LOUIS — No kickoff returns to save Seattle this week.
No game-changing interceptions, either.
Nothing to protect Seattle from its own offense Sunday in St. Louis, whether it was the first-half decision to fake a field-goal attempt or a second-half performance that left skid marks on the turf as the Seahawks went barreling into a ditch.
The Seahawks offense never crossed midfield in the final two periods, failing to score so much as a touchdown and losing to St. Louis 20-3. It’s the fourth time in three seasons Seattle has gone a game without scoring a touchdown.
“The offense did not get any drives in at all,” coach Pete Carroll said. “That needs to be dealt with.”
Yes, Seattle’s offensive showing was so singularly poor it made even Pete peeved.
“We will not accept the fact that this was a game that we go on the road and did not get a touchdown,” he said. “Didn’t give ourselves a chance to win the football game. These guys are clear about that, and we’ve got a lot of work to do.”
Seattle had beaten St. Louis 10 consecutive times, its longest winning streak against any single opponent in franchise history. The Seahawks never led Sunday, and they’re now tied in the division with the Rams and Arizona at 2-2. San Francisco is 0-4, alone at the bottom of the NFC West.
But Seattle didn’t lose this game because of Rams quarterback Sam Bradford’s 289 passing yards and his touchdown throws to Brandon Gibson, a former Cougar, and Kenneth Darby. And the Seahawks weren’t beaten by the two field goals kicked by former Seahawk Josh Brown, either.
The Seahawks lost this game because of an offense that started out slow, failing to score in the first period for the fourth successive game, and it only got worse from there.
“Just really frustrating,” quarterback Matt Hasselbeck said. “Really frustrating right now.”
The pass protection — a bright spot for Seattle’s offensive line the first three games — evaporated. Hasselbeck was sacked four times, one of which resulted in a fumble. Three of Hasselbeck’s passes were tipped at the line of scrimmage, one getting picked off.
“This was our weakest attempt in pass protection,” Carroll said. “We had a tough time.”
Rookie Russell Okung started the game at left tackle, making his debut six weeks after suffering a high ankle sprain. He failed to recognize a zone blitz that led to a sack, and left the game midway through the second quarter because his ankle was increasingly sore.
But the problems went beyond pressure. All the warts were visible on Seattle’s offense.
Brandon Stokley — who has been with the team all of five days — caught four passes and led the team with 62 receiving yards. And while Seattle didn’t score a touchdown, it tried all sorts of innovative and often ineffective methods. The Seahawks went for it on fourth down, they faked a field goal and their longest pass completion of the first half was by fullback Michael Robinson, who caught a backward pass from Hasselbeck, turned and threw for 26 yards to Leon Washington on third-and-one.
That was a gamble that paid off. Going for it on fourth-and-two earlier in the period didn’t work out so well as Robinson dropped a pass.
Seattle faked a field goal with 1:07 left in the first half, eschewing what would have been a 51-yard attempt by Olindo Mare to make the score 7-6. Instead, punter Jon Ryan — the holder — ran left. The Seahawks needed 10 yards for the first down. They lost nine.
One third-quarter play didn’t decide the game so much as it neatly summarized it. The Seahawks trailed 17-3 when they faced a third-and-one at their own 13 in what turned out to be the final play of the third quarter.
Needing just a yard, Justin Forsett was tackled for a loss as Rams defensive tackle Fred Robbins shed Chris Spencer’s attempt at a block.
That play said all you needed to know about the game Sunday from the chokehold St. Louis’ defensive line applied up front to the Seahawks’ pronounced and continuing inability to make any progress in the second half.
After a September that constituted a major step forward for the Seahawks, they began October with a discernible step backward in St. Louis.