SEATTLE — Geno Smith saw no reason to try to downplay the performance the Seattle Seahawks had just put forth.
Seattle’s season began with an unexpected flop that left fans booing, players losing control of their emotions and the Seahawks feeling flat outplayed by their division foe.
“I didn’t expect to come out and lose at all, let alone in this fashion,” Smith said. “But hats off to the Rams. They wanted it more. They played harder.”
Seattle’s 30-13 loss to the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday was an immediate wake-up call that last year’s unexpected success and the feel-good story surrounding that team is long in the past.
Seattle started this season believing it had made the necessary moves to be more of a contender in the NFC West and perhaps close in on San Francisco at the top of the division.
Instead, the Seahawks were thoroughly outplayed by a Rams roster that has undergone major surgery that gutted most of the core from the team that two seasons ago won the Super Bowl, leaving only a few stars surrounded by plenty of unknowns.
Los Angeles coach Sean McVay improved to 9-4 in the last 13 games against Seattle as the Rams again befuddled the Seahawks, leaving a frustrated group that expressed that through some cheap penalties in the closing minutes that irritated their head coach.
DK Metcalf was flagged for a taunting penalty and safety Quandre Diggs was called for a personal foul away from the play in the closing minutes of the loss.
“I thought we lost our minds a little bit and we’ll talk about that,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. “That shows you the frustration and based on the expectation that we were going to be better and not in that situation. I don’t like seeing this look, that looks terrible. We’ll talk about that.”
There’s plenty for Seattle to talk about.
Despite leading 13-6 at halftime, the Seahawks were shut out and completely stymied the final 30 minutes, finishing with only 12 yards of offense and one first down in the second half. The Rams scored the final 23 points and handed Seattle its worst home loss in six years.
The 12 yards of offense was Seattle’s lowest output in any half dating to 1991. Smith was 3 of 8 passing in the second half and was under constant pressure, especially after both starting offensive tackles – Charles Cross and Abraham Lucas – left with injuries.
Smith’s 112 yards passing for the game were the fewest of any game he’s started for Seattle. The Seahawks had just one offensive play of longer than 15 yards.
“Moved the ball well in the first half, and really felt like we should be able to take the next step and take control of the football game. I thought we were in great shape to do that,” Carroll said. “It’s shocking to me now that we weren’t able to take advantage of that.”
But while Seattle’s offense was shut down, its defense couldn’t get off the field.
Matthew Stafford was terrific throwing for 334 yards, but it was the Rams' unknowns who showed up and outshined Seattle’s more established stars on both sides of the ball.
Even without Cooper Kupp due to a hamstring injury, the combo of Puka Nacua and Tutu Atwell found openings in Seattle’s secondary. Stafford had plenty of time as Seattle’s pass rush was mostly non-existent. Nacua had 10 catches and Atwell had six receptions, both for 119 yards.
The Rams went 11 of 17 on third downs and punted only once. Los Angeles had six drives of nine plays or longer. Stafford wasn’t sacked and Seattle recorded only two quarterback hits.
“This team is resilient. We’re going to improve going forward,” Seattle safety Julian Love said. “It’s not end all, be all, Week 1. It’s a long season. This team is tough and we’re going to bounce back.”