John McGrath

John McGrath: At least the playoff road won’t include St. Louis

Rams cornerback Trumaine Johnson celebrates after intercepting a pass from Russell Wilson in the second quarter of St. Louis’ 23-17 win over the Seahawks in Seattle on Sunday.
Rams cornerback Trumaine Johnson celebrates after intercepting a pass from Russell Wilson in the second quarter of St. Louis’ 23-17 win over the Seahawks in Seattle on Sunday.

The quarterback cut to the chase Sunday after his team lost a game it had no business winning.

“We just really don’t have a clear-cut direction,” he said. “We weren’t very effective. We had less than 300 yards and had a terrible first half.”

On an afternoon he was hurried, harassed, hammered and hurt by a pass rush that resembled the Fearsome Foursome of the once-and-maybe-future Los Angeles Rams, Russell Wilson could have shared those opinions about the Seahawks lacking a clear-cut direction and their sloppy first half.

But the words weren’t Wilson’s. The words were spoken by Aaron Rodgers, quarterback for the playoff-bound Green Bay Packers, and they’re worth a question: Is not a first-round game against the out-of-synch Packers preferable to facing the resurgent Washington Redskins?

Although the Hawks have a history at Lambeau Field so despairing it suggests a curse, the ‘Skins are 6-2 at Fed Ex Field, where cult-hero quarterback Kirk Cousins has been dominant in a Comeback-of-the-Year campaign.

Flip a coin, I say.

Here’s what’s for certain: Whatever team the Seahawks draw for a road date, the opponent won’t be as nasty on them as the St. Louis Rams were Sunday at CenturyLink Field.

The Seahawks never really got untracked after their first possession began with an incomplete pass thrown by an under-siege Wilson. Their next play — a handoff to running back Christine Michael — lost four yards — preceded by a false-start penalty called on right tackle Alvin Bailey.

Before walking off the field as 23-17 losers in their home finale, the Seahawks would commit 10 penalties, lose two of five fumbles and botch two snaps, mistakes that explain why, for the first time in a game this season, they never led.

“I’m not going to take anything away from them, they had a nice win,” coach Pete Carroll said of the Rams. “However, we snapped the ball crazy, we turned it over three times, and we had the penalties. I think it was very much our doing it to ourselves.”

Perhaps, but the fumbles and penalties — and even the crazy snaps — had much to do with the Rams’ defensive front owning a decisive matchup advantage against a Seattle offensive line that has improved over the course of the season but is not immune to regression.

Nearly four months after the Rams opened the season by beating the two-time defending NFC champions in an offensive shootout at St. Louis, they showed up in Seattle and won a rematch better described as a cage match.

“The Rams play good football against us,” said Hawks defensive end Michael Bennett. “They just don’t play good football against anybody else.”

Actually, the 7-8 Rams, who’ve got a chance to finish 5-1 in the division, have played their best against the rest of the NFC West. Moves to replace quarterback Nick Foles with Case Keenum, and offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti with Rob Boras, seem to have paid off with a three-game winning streak.

And yet it’s the Rams who’ve been shut out of the playoffs for the 11th consecutive year, and the Seahawks who are pondering what destination awaits them when the seedings are settled this coming weekend.

Washington? Green Bay? Minnesota?

Each poses challenges for a team traveling from Seattle. All are preferable to a home game against the St. Louis Rams.