This was going to be ugly one way or another; it always is at this place.
The Rams come out with those helmets designed for battering. And the Edward Jones Dome is dark and shadowy, and sparsely inhabited — perfect spot for a mugging.
And for added consideration, toss in a Seattle Seahawks offensive line built on converted defenders and positional refugees having to tangle with one of the best defensive fronts in the NFL.
But the 34-31 overtime loss to the Rams in the 2015 season-opening game passed the ugly mark early in the first half, and progressed to weird, confusing, uncharacteristic, and, in the end, inexplicable.
Somebody suggested it was ironic that the Hawks lost when back Marshawn Lynch was stopped cold when they needed him to gain a yard.
No, that’s not ironic. Cruel, yes. Ironic, probably not. The way things went on Sunday, it might have been expected.
This was not without promise — quite a bit, in fact. The three touchdowns the Seahawks scored all were by players new to the team: Tyler Lockett’s 57-yard punt return, Jimmy Graham’s fourth-quarter pass reception, and Cary Williams’ extraordinarily athletic strip-sack, fumble-recovery TD return to give the Hawks a 31-24 lead with less than 5 minutes remaining.
And it wasn’t that anybody should be surprised by a Seahawks loss here to the Rams; they’d accomplished that twice in the previous three visits.
The six sacks of quarterback Russell Wilson were almost to be expected as an annual rite: go to St. Louis and see Russell Wilson run for his life. But he’s getting to the point in his career where he has to get rid of the ball sometimes to avoid those when field goals are still in the equation.
And placekicker Steven Hauschka, who booted three field goals and has been so accurate he has been nicknamed “Hausch Money,” somehow misfired on what looked like a failed onside kickoff to start overtime.
It was supposed to be a “pooch” kick deeper down field, but Hauschka’s aim was way off the mark. So, the customarily reliable Hauschka totally skewed the pooch.
But how in the world did this Seattle defense give up 34 points to the Rams? They haven’t surrendered that many in the regular season since a 34-28 loss at Indianapolis in October 2013.
The linebackers looked slow at times, and they’re not. The defense looked porous; it’s not. There were missed tackles, and this unit is usually on target.
The easy theory will be to blame the absence of strong safety holdout Kam Chancellor. That can be supported by the fact that his replacement, Dion Bailey, stumbled in coverage and was beaten for a touchdown on a long ball in the final minute of regulation. But I’ve seen Chancellor get beaten in coverage on a route like that.
Besides, there were way more problems than that.
Some will say the distractions of Chancellor’s holdout had affected their preparation. Baloney, these guys thrive on this stuff. Challenges are mother’s milk to them — or maybe magic bubble water.
What do they chant? “We all we got … we all we need.” Other than correcting the shaky, verbless syntax, they might considering a re-evaluation if, in fact, they got all they need.
So, somehow, the Seahawks won the turnover battle by two, rushed for 124 yards, completed 32 of 41 passes, scored on special teams, and lost a game.
Strange, yes, but hardly time to panic.
“It’s a long season,” said defensive end Michael Bennett, who had a stellar game, like his bookend Cliff Avril. “There’ll be a lot of chatter about Kam and all that stuff, but we gotta keep our motivation the same and keep grinding the way we do. I understand that as a pro you make mistakes, but to be a great pro is to bounce back.”
It would make a more provocative column to inflame the fears of the fans. But it’s not time for that. We’ve all seen the Seahawks bounce back from bigger things.
In fact, I think they easily could lose again at Green Bay next week, go 0-2, and still win the division.
But as Bennett says, they can’t be great if they don’t know how to bounce back.