Five quick takeaways from yesterday's
5. The Seahawks began to "force" the ball to Jimmy Graham as the game went on and... it worked.
Following the game, Russell Wilson explained that "The goal is to throw the ball to the right guy at the right time," and it is counter to he and Pete Carroll's philosophy to force the ball into coverage. However, Graham is a different caliber of weapon than what Seattle has had among pass-catchers throughout Wilson's career. The Rams were uniquely prepared to deal with Graham due to their remarkable pass rush and defensive coordinator Gregg Williams experience defending the tight when both were in New Orleans. Throughout the rest of the year, Graham should be the consistent force for the Seahawks he appeared to be in the second half, not the ghost he was in the first half.
4. The 4th and 1 running play to Marshawn Lynch works... and did earlier in the game.
The Seahawks led the NFL in rushing yards in 2014, averaging 172.6 yards per game. St. Louis effectively bottled up Marshawn Lynch and Wilson for the most part on Sunday but Seattle still ran for 124 yards and if not for a disastrous failed attempt on 4th and 1 in overtime to end the game, we might be talking about how effectively the Seahawks were in this regard despite the obvious problems containing St. Louis' defensive line. Following the game, Pete Carroll commented specifically on the failed 4th down rushing attempt, pointing out that the team ran the same play "making two and three yards on that all day long." This included the two-point conversion Lynch successfully ran in earlier in the fourth quarter. The key difference on this snap was that Rams defensive lineman Michael Brockers pushed Seahawks right tackle Garry Gilliam deep into the backfield. That penetration didn't allow Lynch to gather his normal head of steam and charge up the middle like he had previously. Further, Seattle ran the ball effectively when Fred Jackson and Thomas Rawls saw time -- an indication of Seattle's surprising comfort already with both backs.
3. Other than one obvious exception, Dion Bailey played well. Secondary as a whole, however... Not so much.
There's no sense in sugar-coating it, Bailey's stumble and fall when attempting to cover Lance Kendricks one on one essentially handed the Rams the game-tying touchdown. Expect the Seahawks to rally around the young safety rather than pin the loss on him, however, especially because Bailey otherwise had a solid performance. The secondary, as a whole, however, was repeatedly burned for long gains, surrendering eight plays of 20+ yards against a Rams' squad that frankly, is lacking playmakers at receiver and tight end. Perhaps the most disconcerting element is that the Seahawks shifted Richard Sherman to nickel corner against the Rams, signaling how concerned the team is with covering shifty slot receivers. Normally, Seattle has the length on the perimeter to allow Sherman to make this switch and still feel good about covering the outside. With Tharold Simon a surprise inactive yesterday, however, Seattle's lack of depth at cornerback (and not just safety) was exposed. That's a major concern given that the Green Bay Packers are next up.
2. A "pooch" kick (but not onside) would've made sense.
If Bailey's misstep was the most frustrating mistake in Seattle's loss, Steven Hauschka's failed onside kick attempt on the first play of overtime was the most inexplicable. Following the game, Carroll and Hauschka each admitted that the play didn't go as planned with neither elaborating on what the plan was. With the speedy Tavon Austin a legitimate threat to take a kick back, it theoretically made sense for Seattle to attempt a so-called "pooch" kick designed to go halfway between the dynamic returner and St. Louis' front line. As Hauschka said following the game, he simply mis-hit the ball. In doing so, the Rams received the ball at midfield and didn't have far to go to get into Greg Zuerlein's range.
1. Tyler Lockett "special" on teams and offense, alike
Clearly the highlight of Lockett's regular season NFL debut was his 57 yard punt return for a touchdown that gave Seattle an early lead but the rookie was every bit as dynamic as a receiver. On multiple occasions, Lockett caught passes and generated surprising yards after simply because his remarkable instant acceleration ruined defenders' pursuit angles. Further, Lockett looks on board with coming back towards the quarterback when Wilson buys time. That's an example of the savvy Carroll and Seahawks players have been lauding since Lockett joined the team.