Hawks lose margin for error, but goals still within reach

At Los Angeles logoEverything was set up for the Seahawks to take command of the NFC, but the offense failed to score and a 28-12 loss to the Rams means Seattle probably needs to win its final three to claim the division title.

This game was not imperative for any of the Hawks’ goals, but losing it just means they have little to no room for error to claim the spot they want for the postseason.

The Hawks still can win the NFC West by winning out — at Carolina, vs. Arizona and in a big home finale against San Francisco. A 13-3 record also would net them a bye. And they still could get the No. 1 seed if the Packers are involved in a 13-win tie with Seattle and New Orleans.

Their offense will have to recover from this poor outing though.

The Hawks know they always need 30 to beat the Rams, and they didn’t even come close Sunday night. It wasn’t as bad as the 42-7 loss in Seattle two Decembers ago. But Russell Wilson failed to throw a TD pass for the first time since a 21-7 win over Minnesota last December, and it was Seattle’s first game without an offensive touchdown since a 17-9 loss to Green Bay in September 2017. It was just the 12th time the Hawks scored under 13 points in Wilson’s eight-year career; the Hawks are 3-8-1 in those games.

Quandre Diggs accounted for the touchdown, on a 55-yard pick-six. He had another interception, too, giving him three picks and four total takeaways in his four games with Seattle.

But Diggs also was involved in a mix-up with Shaquill Griffin that allowed Tyler Higbee to get wide open for a 33-yard catch that set up the Rams’ first touchdown.

The defense had its usual trouble with Sean McVay’s offense, giving up over 450 yards for the fourth straight game. The Rams have averaged 33.6 points in the past five games in the series, winning four.

The pass rush did not net a sack for the second straight game. Shaquem Griffin had a nice pressure on Digg’s pick-six, but Ken Norton didn’t blitz as much as he perhaps should have in the first half.

But this loss was on the offense. Wilson and company knew what they needed to do, and they didn’t come close.

Pass protection had its usual trouble against Aaron Donald and company; Wilson was sacked five times. Also as usual, he ate the ball two or three times when he should have gotten rid of it quickly.

“Russ needs to get the ball out to avoid the rush from being effective — whether he needs to throw the ball away or not,” Pete Carroll said. “He’s got to do that to help us a little bit.”

It didn’t help that the Seattle receivers did not play very well. Malik Turner dropped a fourth-down pass in the first half and failed to turn around for a TD catch as the Hawks tried to rally from a 28-9 deficit. Jacob Hollister also dropped a third-down pass in the first half.

That all helped add up to the third-worst defeat in Wilson’s tenure (he has lost just 39 games) — behind a 42-7 loss to the Rams in 2017 and a 38-10 loss at Green Bay in 2016. With a 30-16 loss to Baltimore in Week 7, this is the first year that Wilson’s Hawks have lost two games by double digits.

But, Carroll and Tyler Lockett were among those saying the Hawks just need to forget about this one and move on. They still can accomplish everything: win the division, get a bye, even possibly claim home field.

“This doesn’t change what’s ahead at all,” Carroll said. “We had a really nice chance to stay on top of our division. We’ll deal with that later on. … We’ve got to just keep stacking them up. We’ve won a lot of games here, and this isn’t going to deter us.”

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