SEATTLE -- It may not mark the end of an era, but Sunday's loss to the Los Angeles Rams brought an abrupt conclusion to any delusions that the Seahawks were one of the league's best teams in 2017.
With K.J. Wright out and Bobby Wagner playing at far less than 100 percent, the Seahawks defense was no longer capable of plugging the holes in the dam created by the absences of Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor and Cliff Avril. The Rams carved the Seahawks up as Todd Gurley sliced through the depleted Seattle defense.
Of course, Seattle's offense did little to help either. They gained just 56 yards before the final drive of the third quarter and lost two fumbles as well. Special teams also allowed Pharoh Cooper to average over 18 yards a return on seven punt returns (with the help of some uncalled illegal blocks in the back).
It was a whooping the Seahawks haven't experienced at home in some time. The 34-0 halftime deficit is the second worst at home in franchise history. Only a 35-0 hole at halftime against the New York Giants in 2010 was more lopsided in an opponent's favor in Seattle. They were down 38-0 at Denver in 1989, which is the worst first half deficit in team history.
It was still the worst loss of the Pete Carroll era in Seattle.
"I wasn't happy with anything," Carroll said. "There was nothing about that game. We avoided getting shut out. We scored a touchdown. No, there was nothing to be happy about. That was a really dismal performance by us."
With that in mind, here are the takeaways from the Seahawks' loss to the Rams.
1. Injuries finally caught up to the Seahawks' defense.
The Seahawks had been able to survive the losses of Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor and Cliff Avril to injury, in part, due to the stellar play of linebacker K.J. Wright and Bobby Wagner.
But with Wright out due to a concussion and Wagner playing at far less than 100 percent, that was the proverbial straw to break the camel's back.
"Today is not a representation of us," safety Bradley McDougald said. "It was embarrassing and humbling. I don't think anything that happened today is going to carry over to next week."
Gurley crashed through the vulnerable dam and gained 152 yards and three touchdowns on 21 carries before being lifted in the latter stages of the game.
"When they running crazy on us like that, that's no fun at all. They celebrating and stuff. That's not what we're used to. It definitely sucks," safety Earl Thomas said.
Gurley also added a receiving touchdown as an injured Wagner couldn't keep up with Gurley in man coverage.
"This was just one of those wins where everything was clicking for us," Gurley said. "Everybody was doing their job. Everybody was out there competing and we didn’t want to let up. These guys been kicking our ass for the last 10, 15 years so you’ve got to enjoy it and you’ve got to take advantage of a situation like this."
Wagner was clearly slowed by his hamstring injury. And without the rock in the middle of the defense, Seattle's tackling fell apart. It was the worst tackling game by a Seahawks' defense in some time.
"We tackled poorly," Carroll said. "There was a play there where we missed three tackles in a row. Sometimes we play a game and we don't miss three tackles the whole game."
2. Problems brewing in Seahawks' locker room?
Bobby Wagner played into the third quarter before coming out of the game despite clearly being far less than his normal self.
Earl Thomas said after the game that he personally thought it was a mistake for Wagner to remain in the game that long given his injury.
"To be totally honest, I think the guys that played, you've got to give your hats off to Wags and a couple guys that played. But my personal opinion, I don't think they should have played. The backups would have did just as good. The injuries, Kam, Sherm, K.J., it definitely hurt today," Thomas said.
When asked how much Wagner was limited today, Thomas said "I have no clue. But you normally see Wags running from sideline to sideline and he just couldn't do it today. I think he just waited a little bit too long to take himself out."
Wagner apparently didn't take too kindly to seeing those comments. In a pair of since deleted tweets, Wagner seemed to address Thomas' quotes.
"E keep my name out yo mouth. Stop being jealous of other people success. I still hope you keep balling bro.
"Ima hold myself accountable. Trust and believe I will. As I always do."
Thomas may have been accurate in saying that Wagner may not have been the best option for Seattle today given his hamstring injury. Thomas missed two games with a hamstring injury of his own earlier this year and has dealt with the issue before. However, if Michael Wilhoite had played the entire game in place of Wagner instead, the outcome likely wouldn't have been substantially different.
The Seahawks' locker room is full of headstrong individuals with large egos. Wagner did delete the tweets soon after he posted them, but the sentiment was clear from the original message. The Seahawks are a happy-go-lucky bunch when things are going well. When things aren't going so well, they seem to lash out in unproductive ways.
Which brings us to our next point.
3. The ejections, personal fouls, unnecessary roughness penalties have got to stop.
Rookie safety Delano Hill was ejected in the third quarter after supposedly throwing a punch at a Rams player following a punt return.
Hill shoved multiple Rams players in the face as a scrum ensued after the play. Oh, they trailed 34-0 at this point too.
Hill is the third ejection in two weeks for the Seahawks. Sheldon Richardson and Quinton Jefferson were both ejected from last week's game in Jacksonville after multiple scuffles during the final kneel downs of the game.
The Seahawks act like sore losers. Everything is peachy and jovial when they're the top dogs, but throw a bit of real adversity their way and they lash out. It's a bad look and needs to be addressed.
Carroll said last week he didn't want games to end like they did in Jacksonville with so many extracurricular theatrics. While Hill getting tossed on Sunday wasn't close to the events seen last week in Florida, it's another instance of a player being unable to control himself when the Seahawks are getting beat up on the field.
Form the ejections last week, to Bruce Irvin being ejected at the end of Super Bowl XLIX, to Jeremy Lane blasting Randall Cobb on a kneel down in Green Bay, it's all completely unnecessary acts that aren't necessary.
It's a poor look and it happens far too regularly when Seattle's on the losing end of games.
4. Seahawks' offense isn't without blame for the blowout loss either.
The Seahawks knew their defense would be playing with the equivalent of an arm tied behind its back all day. For Seattle's offense to come out and go turnover, -10 yards, -10 yards and allow the Rams to take an early 13-0 lead was inexcusable.
As good as Russell Wilson has been this season, his inability to get going in the first 15 minutes of the game has been problematic all year. While on Sunday it wasn't Wilson's fault that Tanner McEvoy fumbled on the opening drive, Duane Brown drew a pair of holding penalties to back them up or the special teams group allowed a pair of big returns to Pharoh Cooper, it's still concerning that Wilson is so slow to get his feet under him in games.
"Obviously that was not the game we wanted to play or expected to play," Wilson said.
While Seattle's defense used to be talented enough to hold a good opponent in check and allow the offense to work its way into form, that's no longer the case given the number of injuries the defense is currently dealing with.
Before marching 62 yards on seven plays - with the help of a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty - the Seattle offense had gained just 56 total yards in the game. They finished with just 149 yards in the game with most coming in garbage time.
The offensive line committed four penalties, with three accepted, that helped put Seattle's offense in a hole repeatedly. Wilson also had an intentional grounding that resulted in a safety and an illegal forward pass.
The Seahawks being unable to move the ball put their defense is a serious bind. The Rams scored on six of seven possessions that began in Seattle territory. Having seven drives begin in opposing territory is a ridiculous number in its own right and the Rams made sure not to let those opportunities slide.
Wilson was sacked seven times in the game. He was responsible for roughly half of the sacks with the line conceded the rest. Wilson didn't get rid of the ball when he should, extended plays unnecessarily only to be swallowed up by Rams' pass rushers. He flung a ball backwards 16 yards while trying to avoid a sack of his own making.
Mike Davis and J.D. McKissic getting just 12 carries against the league's 28th ranked rushing defense was a major mistake as well. However, facing long yardage situations repeatedly isn't advantageous for building a rushing attack.
"We were backed up and we were behind the sticks constantly," Carroll said. "That's not how we wanted to play this game."
All of this combined to hand the Seahawks their seventh largest loss in franchise history. Not the kind of day they had hoped for with a chance to take the division lead. Now just finding their way into the playoffs for a sixth straight season will be a monumental task that is completely out of their control.
Photo Credit: SEATTLE, WA - DECEMBER 17: Running back Todd Gurley #30 of the Los Angeles Rams escapes cornerback Shaquill Griffin #26 of the Seattle Seahawks to run for a 57 yard touchdown during the 2nd quarter of the game at CenturyLink Field on December 17, 2017 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr /Getty Images)