Behind another stellar game from Cooper Kupp, the Los Angeles Rams closed the door on the Seahawks’ late-season surge, completing a season sweep of Seattle with a 20-10 victory Tuesday night in Inglewood, California.
The Seahawks fell to 5-9, their playoff dreams dashed.
The Rams improved to 10-4 and remained in the thick of the NFC West chase.
Three impressions from Tuesday’s game:
That’s all, folks
With so much stacked against them in this delayed game — including their first COVID outbreak since the start of the pandemic, leaving them particularly thin in the defensive secondary — the Seahawks gave themselves a chance Tuesday night.
They followed a classic Pete Carroll script. They muddied things up in the first half. They played good enough defense. They didn’t have any turnovers (until the final moments).
Rams 20, Seahawks 10
They gave themselves a chance in the fourth quarter. And considering everything — on the road against one of the NFL’s best teams, with COVID uncertainty swirling — that’s about all they could have realistically asked for.
In the end, it wasn’t enough.
Russell Wilson underthrew DK Metcalf deep down the left sideline midway through the fourth quarter on what could have — what should have — been a game-tying touchdown. That was their best, and their last, chance on offense.
The score was tied 3-3 at halftime, and the Seahawks offense looked as good as it has all season on the opening drive of the third quarter. It marched 75 yards on 11 plays over 5 minutes, 37 seconds, and the Seahawks took their only lead on DeeJay Dallas’ 4-yard touchdown run to take a 10-3 lead.
Cooper Kupp took over from there, and the Rams were able to pull away late.
That leaves the Seahawks at 5-9 and effectively eliminates them from playoff contention. According to FiveThirtyEight.com, the Seahawks have a less than 0.1% chance of making the playoffs now.
The deployment of two star wide receivers ultimately decided this game.
The Seahawks had to get DK Metcalf involved in this game. They knew it, and it was especially important with leading receiver Tyler Lockett on the COVID reserve list.
The Rams, meanwhile, again made Cooper Kupp the focal point of their game plan.
Metcalf, in another tough matchup against All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey, finished with six catches (on 12 targets) for 52 yards.
Metcalf did beat Ramsey deep along the left sideline in the fourth quarter on a key third-down play. But Wilson’s throw was woefully underthrown, allowing Ramsey time to recover and bat the pass away.
The Seahawks, trailing 17-10 at that point, were forced to punt.
In the closing seconds, Wilson’s pass intended for Metcalf in the end zone was intercepted by ex-Husky standout Taylor Rapp, sealing the win for the Rams.
It was more frustration for Metcalf, who was visibly upset late in the second quarter when Wilson threw a pass out of the end zone on third down.
It has been that kind of season for Metcalf, who hasn’t had a 100-yard receiving game since Week 3 against Minnesota.
The Seahawks did have another chance to tie in the fourth quarter. But that drive was stalled when Rashaad Penny was penalized for a false start on third-and-one, and then Wilson’s fourth-down pass intended for Dallas fell incomplete — with Dallas believing he should have drawn a pass-interference on the Rams’ Ernest Jones.
In his frustration, Dallas kicked the ball on the ground while arguing with a sideline official, drawing a 15-yard unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty.
The Seahawks were flagged eight times for 65 yards.
Kupp tore apart the Seahawks’ short-handed defense in the second half, scoring two touchdowns and, notably, drawing a questionable penalty on Bless Austin that helped set up his go-ahead TD reception.
The Austin penalty, a holding call, came during a third-and-12 play deep in Rams’ territory. The Seahawks got a stop on the play and thought they had forced a punt, only to give the Rams a fresh set of downs after the penalty.
Six plays later, Kupp hauled in a 29-yard pass from Matthew Stafford — despite pretty decent coverage from linebacker Jordyn Brooks — to give the Rams a 17-10 lead.
There were some chatter in the buildup to this game about Kupp as a possible NFL MVP candidate. We saw why Tuesday night.
Kupp, the Yakima native, broke Isaac Bruce’s franchise record with his 120th reception of the season on a 6-yard touchdown pass from Matthew Stafford midway through the third quarter.
It was Kupp’s 13th touchdown catch of the season. He had another third-down catch earlier in the drive, beating Sidney Jones in one-on-one coverage for a 32-yard gain.
Kupp came into the game leading the NFL in reception, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. He had nine receptions (on 13 targets) for 136 yards and two TDs vs. the Seahawks.
His first touchdown was set up by a 39-yard run from Sony Michel, who broke 98 tackles (approximately) before the Seahawks finally brought him down at the 6-yard line.
The Seahawks defense, playing without No. 1 cornerback D.J. Reed, otherwise played one of its better games of the season. Quandre Diggs had his fifth interception of the season, Carlos Dunlap had three of the Seahawks’ four sacks, and it was a 10-10 game entering the fourth quarter.