Blowout loss leaves Seahawks needing help in playoff chase

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Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson looks on from the bench in the fourth quarter as the score reads 42-7 to the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday, Dec. 17, 2017 at CenturyLink Field in Seattle, Wash. (Bettina Hansen/Seattle Times/TNS)

RENTON, Wash. (AP) — Pete Carroll was notably somber on Monday and understandably so. Even a day later, the most lopsided loss of his Seattle Seahawks tenure was still stinging.

“A difficult day yesterday that didn’t get anywhere near the expectations that we had,” Carroll said. “We ran into a day, like some of us know, our hard days, they don’t always go like you like.”

Seattle has generally thrived in important games with something at stake. In this case it was the NFC West lead and a much easier path toward a sixth straight playoff appearance. And it was coming two weeks after one of Seattle’s more complete performances in recent seasons with a convincing 24-10 win over Philadelphia.

All of those factors made the 42-7 blowout loss to the Rams so shocking, and tough for the Seahawks to accept. There were few answers, other than it was a complete thumping by the Rams.

“I think that’s why our expectations were so high and why we’re so disappointed about it today,” Carroll said. “But we have to move on from it.”

Moving on was a theme for Carroll on Monday and he’s right in trying to be optimistic. The Seahawks (8-6) still have fleeting playoff hopes, but have no room for error the rest of the way if they intend on finding their way to the postseason. Wins over Dallas and Arizona seem like absolutes, and the Seahawks will likely need help from others.

But that only addresses the now. Sunday’s loss to the Rams felt like a tipping point for the finest era in Seahawks history. They are becoming less the brash, unapologetic bullies of the NFC West and more an older, expensive roster likely in need of some remodeling.

It’s big picture stuff that the Seahawks will need to address in the offseason but was on everyone’s mind in the aftermath of such a deflating loss to the new upstarts in the division.

“That wasn’t anything like it’s been since I got here,” Seattle center Justin Britt said after the loss. “The Rams are a hell of a team this year and they have a lot of depth and really good players. It’s kind of the same story every week.”

There were many reasons why the Rams were so dominant but none appeared more bothersome to Carroll than Seattle’s inability to slow down Todd Gurley and the Rams’ run game. Seattle held Gurley to 43 yards rushing in its Week 5 victory and believed even with the losses on defense due to injury they could keep the Rams’ run game in check.

But Seattle’s defensive front was out of position on too many plays in the first half and watched Gurley run wild. Gurley had 144 yards rushing in the first half and found huge running lanes as Seattle failed to stay disciplined up front and didn’t tackle well in the back end.

“When they running crazy on us like that, that’s no fun at all,” safety Earl Thomas said. “They celebrating and stuff. That’s not what we’re used to. It definitely sucks.”

The Rams finished with 244 yards rushing, the second-most allowed since Carroll arrived in Seattle. Only Kansas City’s 270 yards rushing in 2010 — led by 173 yards from Jamaal Charles — topped the Rams’ performance.

“We got a little bit anxious, tried to get at the quarterback too much, got out of our run lanes and gave them some stuff,” Carroll said.

NOTES: Carroll expects LB K.J. Wright to be cleared from the concussion protocol and return to practice on Wednesday. Wright suffered the concussion in the Week 14 loss to Jacksonville and was not cleared in time to play on Sunday. ... Carroll did not believe there would be lingering friction between Wagner and Thomas after the pair exchanged words in different forums on Sunday. Thomas questioned after the loss whether Wagner should have been playing while injured. Wagner responded on Twitter before later deleting the tweets. “I think Bobby was a little upset, but I think we’ll be fine,” Carroll said.

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