The Seahawks lost a fist fight on Sunday.
The St. Louis Rams often do this to the Seahawks. They like to ugly up the game, punish you, bruise you, punch you in the mouth and knock you out of sync.
They are aggressive and physical and they play the Seahawks like it’s their Super Bowl, and maybe that’s why the Rams have registered three wins in the last four meetings against Seattle.
So it was once again at CenturyLink Field on Sunday, a 23-17 Seahawks loss that felt like a three-hour viewing of the movie “Concussion.”
At least half a dozen times the press box announcer reported that a player was being examined for a possible concussion.
The loss could end up being a figurative headache for the Seahawks (9-6), as it could cost them the fifth seed in the wild-card round and perhaps create a rougher road in the postseason.
But for a team that’s been on a roll and maybe even feeling a little bit of invincibility, to get a bloody nose late in the season heading into the playoffs may not be the worst thing. It can sharpen them, cause them to refocus. Certainly it gets their attention.
“I always like that kind of positive thinking,” coach Pete Carroll said of a day that the Hawks will want to forget. “It could make a difference; we’ll see how we bounce back from it.”
While winning seven of their previous eight games, quarterback Russell Wilson and the offense had been playing at historic levels of efficiency.
Sunday, they were very ordinary in the face of a talented and punishing Rams defensive front.
On this rainy afternoon, the Seahawks were uncharacteristically careless with the ball (five fumbles, three turnovers), and once again scofflaws regarding the rules (10 penalties for 83 yards).
The worst beating was reserved for the Rams’ favorite target, Wilson, who was sacked four times and absorbed 13 hits.
Behind an offensive line that had been improving but was missing Pro Bowl tackle Russell Okung (calf), Wilson was battered.
“I’m fine, I’m good to go,” Wilson of his health after the game. His interception in the second quarter was his first since the Nov. 15 game against Arizona.
The rushing attack was even less effective, picking up just 2.7 yards per carry after having come into the game as the No. 2 ranked running attack in the NFL.
The Seahawks had been considered 11-point favorites and were carrying the consensus title of “hottest team in the league.” They didn’t play like it.
Safety Earl Thomas assessed it like this: “It seemed like the ball loved them more than the ball loved us today.”
Yes, the ball bounced around all over the field, but the Rams were quicker and more assertive in collecting it. And that made the difference in the game.
“They played a good game today; you’ve got to give them credit,” cornerback Richard Sherman said. “It’s one of those games, out of the ordinary, but it’s the Rams … it’s always some craziness with the Rams.”
The craziness of the Rams is by design. They were 6-8 before this game, but came in with a creative scheme that they executed like a sledge hammer.
“The Rams play good football against us,” defensive end Michael Bennett said. “They just don’t play good against everybody else. When we play them, they play their hardest and they won the game.”
St. Louis certainly earned this win. And now the Seahawks have to show up and watch a mistake-filled video in what could be a very uncomfortable “Tell The Truth Monday.”
“Sometimes when you’re riding high, these lows make you get back to where you’re going and stay focused,” Bennett said.
Earl Thomas applied that spin, too.
“You want to capitalize on these moments heading down the stretch,” Thomas said. “You always want to find out if you have problems or not, and this is a good situation to look at yourself and really take ownership of it.”
Baldwin put it more succinctly.
“You win some, you learn some.”
Different teams in different situations, but maybe it’s fair to point out that the Seahawks lost two of their last four games in the 2013 regular season.
They apparently learned a great deal from those games, ending up as champions.