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Report card: Bob Condotta grades the Seahawks’ wild-card playoff loss to the Rams

UPDATED: Sun., Jan. 10, 2021

By Bob Condotta Seattle Times

This one will sting for a really long time.

Russell Wilson is 32 and began the year with dreams of maybe getting his first NFL MVP award. Or maybe just his first vote.

And the Seahawks began the year making the kind of blockbuster trade for Jamal Adams that made clear this was a win-now proposition.

The Seahawks did just that much of the year with a 12-win season better than all but two in franchise history.

But other than Super Bowl XLIX, it’s hard to think of a more disappointing playoff loss than this one, going against a divisional foe that the Seahawks had just beaten and with a quarterback situation that made the Rams appear ripe to be beaten.

Instead, they never so much as held the lead, with the Rams making the big plays time and again to steal the win and send the Seahawks into a too-early offseason of extreme frustration.

“It was a year we were hoping for us to win it all,’’ Wilson said when he met the media almost two hours afterward.

The wait to get to another Super Bowl for Wilson has reached seven years.

On to some grades.

Quarterback

The way the Rams dominated up front you cannot put this all on Wilson.

But this was among his tougher days, especially during a third quarter when he was 2 for 9 for 6 yards and missed a wide open DK Metcalf on a deep pass that might have changed things.

But it was rugged throughout. Wilson was sacked twice by Aaron Donald on one series in the first quarter, and later in the half couldn’t sense Leonard Floyd closing from behind for another sack.

On the Seahawks’ second possession of the third quarter Wilson overthrew Metcalf when he had broken past Jalen Ramsey on a third-and-four. Wilson had to get the ball off in a hurry as he was hit by Donald as he threw (the play on which Donald was hurt when Wilson fell on him). It was far from an easy play, but it was the kind of opportunity the Seahawks needed to hit.

And while the pick-six was a bang-bang play and more an issue of play design and call and execution by the receivers than Wilson it ultimately goes on his stat line.

Grade: D

Running back

Chris Carson ran hard and had 77 yards on 16 carries. But it didn’t seem to matter.

Carlos Hyde again played mostly as the third-down back early. In what might be his final game as a Seahawk he had just 5 yards on four carries.

Rashaad Penny was inactive after being added to the injury report Friday because of a knee issue. Alex Collins took his place but didn’t play.

Grade: B-minus

Wide receiver

No way around it – a Rams secondary regarded as the NFL’s best won the battle against a Seahawks receiving corps that spent the season setting team records.

Tyler Lockett had one amazing catch early but had just one other catch, finishing with two receptions for 43 yards on four targets.

And though Metcalf had two touchdowns, it was a tough day.

Metcalf was visibly frustrated on the sideline after a failed drive in the first half, shown on TV replays throwing his helmet to the ground.

He came back with the 51-yard catch and run shortly later. He also had a 12-yard TD in garbage time.

But other than the 51-yarder, when it really mattered the Rams mostly got the better of Metcalf – he had five catches for 96 yards but on 11 targets.

Grade: C-minus

Tight end

There was a thought the Seahawks might do some damage with tight ends after having some success in the game two weeks ago.

Instead, Wilson was 1 of 7 for just 1 yard when targeting tight ends, including 0 of 5 to Jacob Hollister.

Veteran Greg Olsen, attempting to return from a plantar fascia foot injury suffered Nov. 19, played but wasn’t targeted.

Grade: D

Offensive line

The Seahawks had their opening-day starting offensive line intact for just the sixth time this season.

But it hardly looked like it as the Rams dominated things up front from the start.

True, Donald is a really tough matchup. But he didn’t wreck the game the first two times as much as he did this one.

Wilson was sacked five times and hit 10 times and the line was also responsible for five of the Seahawks’ nine penalties, including two holds on Ethan Pocic, another on Mike Iupati and the critical false start on fourth down by Jordan Simmons, who rotated much of the day with Iupati at left guard.

Grade: D

Defensive line

There were some good moments here as Jarran Reed had two sacks and Carlos Dunlap was his usual disruptive self off the edge.

But L.A.’s 164 rushing yards spoke loudly for the Rams’ offensive line. The Seahawks made a number of stops in short-yardage situations, which indicated the effort couldn’t be faulted.

Reed, who was listed as questionable because of a strained oblique, was used mostly on passing downs. That plan worked as Reed had the two sacks.

With Reed being used , the Seahawks gave ample playing time to undrafted free-agent rookie Cedrick Lattimore, who had been elevated earlier in the day after being on the practice squad all season (he finished with six tackles). He was needed even more when Poona Ford suffered a calf injury.

Grade: B-minus

Linebackers

Bobby Wagner had 16 tackles and a few critical ones in short-yardage situations. The Rams were only 3 of 15 on third downs themselves.

But the rushing yards also indicated this wasn’t the linebackers’ best day. Worth noting, though, that Wagner had to shrug off an injury late in the first half to return and that may have taken a toll.

Grade: C

Secondary

It started out well with Jamal Adams laying the lumber early, with not only the hit that knocked out John Wolford but another later in the first half on Robert Woods.

They were hits that revealed just how much Adams wanted to play despite what he said later was a torn labrum in his left shoulder.

But as the game wore on, some of the problems we saw out of the secondary early in the year began to resurface.

Adams was also out-jostled on a deep pass that Cooper Kupp caught for a 44-yard gain (though, give benefit of the doubt that the shoulder was an issue).

Less forgivable was Seattle’s dime defense being beaten for the 44-yard pass to Cam Akers on a third-and-nine that set up the TD that made it 20-10 late in the first half after Seattle had just scored.

And a coverage was blown horribly to allow the final TD pass to Robert Woods.

Seattle needed to force Jared Goff into more mistakes and simply couldn’t do it.

Grade: C-minus

Special teams

For much of the day this was another game in which the special teams were helping greatly.

Michael Dickson had a couple of uncharacteristic punts to start the game. But his third punt was downed at the 5-yard line, and another in the half pinned the Rams back at the 7, critical field-position advantages at that time.

D.J. Reed had a 58-yard kickoff return for Seattle to start the second half that set up a 52-yard field goal by Jason Myers. That cut the deficit to seven at 20-13 and was Myers’ 26th consecutive converted field-goal attempt this season.

Myers also had a tackle on the return after his 52-yarder that might have saved a touchdown.

But Reed fumbled on a punt return in the fourth quarter that led to L.A.’s final TD and was an all-too-fitting capper on a bad day all around.

Grade: C-minus

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