TNT’s Gregg Bell on what he saw, thought, heard in Seahawks’ loss to Rams when they should have won
Frank Clark played almost the entire game less than two days after being in the hospital with food poisoning.
David Moore had 31 plays at the expense of fellow wide receiver Brandon Marshall. The six-time Pro Bowl veterans had just seven plays. That’s the cost of Marshall dropping four passes in two games, three of them on third down.
Austin Calitro wasn’t really the Seahawks’ weakside linebacker for still-out K.J. Wright, after all. Because Seattle didn’t really use one.
Plus, Seattle’s rookie first-round draft choice had one more play than you did. And that was on special teams.
That’s what jumps out in the official snap counts from the Seahawks’ 33-31 loss to the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday.
Clark, the defensive end and Seattle’s only proven sack man, played 54 of the defense’s 66 snaps. He had been in the hospital twice in the week leading up to the game, including as late as Friday. He took eight intravenous treatments tying to regain his hydration, and he lost 12 pounds.
Yet he was the lone force on a defensive line that hit Rams quarterback Jared Goff just twice in his 33 drop backs. The Seahawks’ only sack Sunday wasn’t because of anything they did. It came when the ball fell out of Goff’s hand while he was trying to throw. A Rams lineman fell on the fumble for what statistically went down as a team sack.
Pass rush remains a big problem for the Seahawks. It’s been one since the traded Michael Bennett in March and fellow Pro Bowl end Cliff Avril had to retire because of a neck injury. The top pass rusher Seattle drafted this spring, Rasheem Green, missed Sunday’s game with an ankle injury.
Moore caught the first two touchdown passes of his career Sunday, from Russell Wilson in the second half. That seems to ensure the seventh-round pick from 2017 will stay ahead of Marshall in the wide-receiver rotation.
Marshall, 34, didn’t get on the field until late in the second quarter. Earlier he had entered for a third down, but after a timeout Moore replaced him.
“David can make things happen, and he certainly did that,” coach Pete Carroll said after Sunday’s game. “He came through in a big way.”
Calitro did not. After preparing during the week at weakside linebacker while Wright missed his fifth consecutive game following arthroscopic knee surgery and Mychal Kendricks began his league suspension for insider trading, Calitro played just four snaps. That’s because the Seahawks were rarely in base defense, only a couple times on short-yardage plays.
Seattle stuck with a nickel defense throughout most of the game against the high-flying Rams. Nickel, fifth defensive back Justin Coleman played 63 of 66 plays. The Seahawks were even in nickel defense with the Rams on the 2-yard line in the first quarter. There was no weakside linebacker to stop Todd Gurley on one of his three touchdown runs for Los Angeles.
As you can see, if you look far, far down at the bottom of the list, rookie Rashaad Penny had just one play in the game. It was as the deep return man on a Rams kickoff in the first half. It went into the end zone for a touchback. Tyler Lockett had three kickoff returns and Moore had one fielding a short kickoff, while Penny watched the rest of the game.
The third running back Seattle has ever drafted in the first round (Curt Warner and Shaun Alexander are the others) had zero plays on offense. And without him the Seahawks romped for 190 yards on the ground against the Rams’ heralded defensive front. That plus the two 100-yard rushing days by Chris Carson and a third by Mike Davis the last three weeks proves Penny is clearly the third of three options to run the ball in a Seahawks offense that is doing that so much better and more consistently the last three games than in its first two, both losses.
Doug Baldwin had 53 snaps but just one target, and it was an unintended one. It came on Seattle’s second offensive play. Wilson scrambled to his left and with nothing else to do besides run out of bounds or take a sack he flipped the ball to the almost stationary Baldwin along the sideline. The play netted 1 yard.
Baldwin was open three times deep down the field, waving his hand trying to get Wilson’s attention. But the passes went to Lockett and to Moore, on his second touchdown catch, instead. Baldwin was the first Seahawk to meet Moore to celebrate that score, running across the end zone to greet him.
After the game, Baldwin was brief and not exactly giddy in his comments at his locker. The Pro Bowl veteran called Moore and Lockett “savages” for how they are emerging.