SEATTLE – Russell Wilson’s 2020 season has started with record touchdown pace and talks about his first career MVP award. It ended abruptly with a thud and a question: What happened to the quarterback and the Seattle Seahawks offense that couldn’t be stopped in the first two months?
Struggles for Wilson and Co. culminated on Saturday when the Seahawks lost 30-20 in the wildcard round to the Los Angeles Rams in empty Lumen Field, breaking what had been the third longest home winning streak in the history of the NFL playoffs. The Seahawks had not lost a home playoff game since the 2004 season and won all six tries under Pete Carroll before Saturday.
“I hate that feeling,” Wilson said after the game, still without a shower two hours after the final whistle.
Wilson threw for 174 yards, two touchdowns and an interception that was returned for a Rams score. His 40.7% completion rate on 11 of 27 assists was tied for the second-lowest of his career, while his 17.6 QBR tally was his worst in 16 career playoff games, ESPN research shows Stats & Information.
It didn’t help that he was sacked or put under duress on half of his backhands, even with All-Pro defensive tackle Aaron Donald on the sidelines for much of the second half. The Rams’ 50% pressure rate was the highest Wilson has faced this season and the second highest he has faced in the playoffs. He has been sacked five times.
“They did a very good job up front obviously. They’ve had me multiple times, ”Wilson said. “I think for us we just didn’t play our best game. We weren’t as much on our stuff as we needed to be. ”
Carroll didn’t blame Wilson for his six-pick in the second quarter, which came on a screen pass attempt at DK Metcalf that cornerback Darious Williams read perfectly.
“I thought it was really tough,” Carroll said of Wilson’s afternoon. “They do a fantastic interception for a touchdown, which is a great game on the kid’s part. He took a shot and got it, and it was a big game in that game because he was looming all the time, those seven points. That’s no mistake on Russ’s part. It’s just a great game from them. But it was difficult. When we rush like that, we get sacked five times, against this group, it’s just hard. ”
Wilson was also sacked five times when the Seahawks beat the Rams 20-9 in Week 16 to win NFC West.
“It’s no surprise,” Carroll said. “That’s how they played against other people. We had to keep this game like we played last time, where we kept it low, where they scored nine points and we found a way to score 20. ”
Wilson pitched an NFL record with 16 touchdown passes in the first four games while establishing himself as the entry-season favorite for MVP. In the first nine weeks, the Seahawks’ offense topped the league with 34 points per game while Wilson led the league with 28 touchdowns. But over the last eight weeks of the regular season, Seattle’s points-per-game average dropped to 22.6 (who was 16th) as Wilson threw 12 TD passes (tied for 13th).
His yards-per-attempt average went from 8.56 yards (fourth) to 6.4 (28th). He also averaged 6.4 yards per attempt on Saturday.
Carroll regretted that the Seahawks had not adapted better to the way opponents defended their deep passes in action-play play, traditionally a big part of Seattle’s offensive success.
“It doesn’t mean that we throw the ball over their heads all the time and are only looking for bombs,” Carroll said. “But there’s a lot of space that we create in the passing game, and it seemed like during the season, after the halfway point, we hit so early, we were so efficient that people have found a way to stay back and try to just bleed ourselves and force us to throw the ball underneath, and we maybe really went more than we needed to and didn’t take advantage of shifting gears a bit there down as efficiently as we would like. ”
Wilson’s 40 touchdown passes and 13 regular-season interceptions were both career highs.
The veteran highlighted injuries along the offensive line as one of the reasons the Seahawks struggled after their hot start. They had their favorite starting five of Duane Brown, Mike Iupati, Ethan Pocic, Damien Lewis and Brandon Shell for their first four games, but only once in the second half.
However, that starting five was back together on Saturday, and it wasn’t a game for the Rams’ defensive front… with or without Donald. The Rams generated six pushes and two sacks after Donald left with just over 10 minutes left in the third quarter.
Seven of the nine penalties accepted by the Seahawks were against the attack, including five on their offensive line. One of them made a false start in the fourth quarter when Seattle broke the late clique – despite overtime as Lewis was screened for an injury on the field – and rushed to get a fourth and a game out. time. . The Seahawks then kicked.
Carroll said they were discussing plays and he ended up in the middle, contributing to the delay. He said he didn’t mind after the penalty because it was initially a consideration.
Wilson threw his two touchdown passes at Metcalf against a standard four-man rush pass, but was only 8 of 18 for 130 yards on those plays. His 44.4% success rate against standard pressure was its lowest in a game since Week 15 of the 2017 season against the Rams (44.0%), according to ESPN Stats & Information research.
The Seahawks were just 2 of 14 in third, starting 0 for 8 before their first conversion with less than four minutes left in the third quarter. They ran 136 yards on 25 attempts.
“I wish we had found a way to get the ball spinning more, to slow them down and to keep them from rushing us,” Carroll said. “… When Donald came out we wanted to try to throw the ball without him in the pass race and we couldn’t shoot enough. ”
The Seahawks have won 12 regular season games for the first time since 2014 and have won NFC West for the first time since 2016.
“We have a great football team. Don’t get me wrong, ”Wilson said. “You can write whatever you want but the reality is we have a great soccer team and I think we have guys but we didn’t play well today. This is what matters most. ”
It was the second time in three seasons that the Seahawks had rebounded in the wildcard round and the fifth time in their last five playoff trips that they found themselves short of the NFC title game.
“We’re going to heal, but it’s a shame because those years are hard to come by,” Carroll said. “It’s hard to get 12 wins. It is difficult to lie with a home playoff game. We’ve won a lot of home playoff games, and it’s hard to give one. We won each of them. playoff games with a loud, wild and crazy fanbase, and not today we needed you. I wish I could have had you. It’s not an excuse, it’s just unfortunate. ”