Well, that was ugly.
The Seattle Seahawks exited the playoffs with little more than a whimper on Saturday night, falling 30-20 to a Rams team battling significant adversity after losing its starting quarterback to a neck injury and turning to Jared Goff, who entered and played with a surgically repaired thumb.
Those hurdles proved to be minimal against a punchless Seahawks team that turned the ball over twice and allowed Cam Akers to rack up 131 yards and a touchdown on 28 carries.
Seattle, meanwhile, failed to answer Los Angeles' sporadic offensive successes, going 2-for-14 on third down and completing just 11 of 27 passes against a stingy Rams defense. The once explosive Seahawks offense that outscored opponents while its defense attempted to solve its own messes early in the season seemed lightyears away, lost to the abyss of history while the current version repeatedly stumbled in a forgettable postseason loss.
By the fourth quarter, the reality of the situation had landed on those watching the game. The Seahawks were losing to a team playing with an injured quarterback, and were being dominated by a defense missing its best player after Aaron Donald exited due to a rib injury. Coach Pete Carroll lost another ill-advised challenge on a long run by Akers, and told reporters after the loss he had "no place" in his "brain for this outcome."
"It's really frustrating to be done," Carroll said, via NBC Sports Northwest's Joe Fann. "The sudden of this, there's nothing like it. You just have to deal with it. ... Real disappointed in this outcome."
The Seahawks couldn't adequately protect Russell Wilson, whose performance was as dreadful as the hands of his receivers, who dropped multiple passes. Wilson was sacked five times and threw a bad interception on a play in which few, if any of the Seahawks executed their responsibilities, watching a screen pass attempt get picked off by Darious Williams, who returned it for a touchdown. Wilson finished with a passer rating of 72.1, far from his sky-high start to the 2020 season, and Seattle gained 11 first downs in the game. Carroll called Wilson's day "really hard" afterward.
"When you get rushed like that, get sacked five times, against that group, it's really tough," Carroll said of Wilson, via the Tacoma News Tribune's Gregg Bell. "The pressure was hard, the coverage was good. He was up against it all day."
The lone bright spots came from Tyler Lockett, whose two fantastic grabs were his only receptions of the day. DK Metcalf spent much of the first half throwing a series of frustrated fits on the sideline before catching a touchdown pass to make it a 13-10 game, then disappeared until a late score to bring the deficit to 10 with 2:28 left.
No matter the personnel, Seattle simply wasn't good enough to overcome a multi-score deficit and make things interesting down the stretch. A fumble forced by Rams linebacker Samson Ebukam on a punt return essentially sealed a fate most had already seen coming.
"To me, it's a failure," safety Jamal Adams said, while also revealing he played through a torn labrum that required a restrictive brace and will need surgery in the offseason. "That's our goal: It's about getting to the Super Bowl and winning it."
For the Seahawks, their exit was disappointing if not embarrassing. Seattle looked nothing like the team that won 12 games in 2020, with Sean McVay's staff clearly winning the coaching battle Saturday. Their division crown-sealing win over Los Angeles was just two weeks ago, but seemed like it did, in fact, occur in a different year.
Saturday's loss sends the Seahawks into the offseason on a disheartening note. It might also set up for an offseason filled with questions about the direction of the franchise, which can be proud of a 12-4 finish but must address its issues before running it back again in 2021.