Just months removed from justifying calls from the peanut gallery to "Let Russ Cook," Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks looked absolutely cooked on Saturday night.
In Seattle's 30-20 wild-card loss to the divisional rival Los Angeles Rams, the Seahawks mustered 11 first downs and 278 total yards against L.A. and converted just 2 of 14 third-down attempts.
Seattle was still in the ball game in the second half despite its paltry production. But after kicking a field goal and cutting L.A.'s lead to three on the first drive of the third quarter, Seattle then punted on four consecutive drives, moving the ball just 21 yards on 17 plays, picking up just two first downs and never reaching midfield. Meanwhile, Los Angeles and an injured Jared Goff stretched their lead from three points to 17. All this, while the Rams' star defender, Aaron Donald, was sidelined by a rib injury.
Wilson and Co. failed to take advantage of Donald's absence and to wake up on offense until it was too late in the fourth quarter.
"We needed to get going there," Wilson said, per The Seattle Times. "The game kind of felt stale for us in a way -- we kind of flatlined. We needed to get going and make that happen. And the next thing you know, we didn't."
Save for a typically brilliant improvised touchdown pass to DK Metcalf in the first half, Wilson had a particularly poor day, watching the Seahawks' season flat-line underneath a crush of Rams sackers. Wilson's mistakes were plentiful: He threw a pick-six on a WR screen intended for Metcalf, took five sacks and completed just 40.7 percent of his passes, a season-low. According to ESPN, Wilson posted a 17.6 QBR in the loss to the Rams, the fifth-worst performance of his career.
Much can be blamed on Seattle's offensive line, which allowed Wilson to be pressured on a season-worst 43.8 percent of plays. But for a QB who's handled pressure in the pocket and off the field well his entire career, that's no excuse.
"I hate this feeling, obviously," Wilson said. "We felt like we had a chance today. … I was hoping for us to be able to win it all, and we didn't do that."
Wilson and the Seahawks looked destined for glory in the season's early-goings. As Seattle got out to a 5-0 start, calls for Wilson to be atop the MVP conversation increased, and justifiably so; Wilson was completing 72.8 percent of his passes and bolstered a 19-3 TD-to-INT ratio on a team leading the NFC standings.
But then the turnovers came in droves, the losses soon followed, and Seattle's offense never recovered the promise of its early-season success.
Instead of cooking up a Super Bowl run, the Seahawks are heading home in early January for the second time in three seasons and missing out on the NFC title game for the third straight time in the postseason.
"We gotta be better," Wilson said. "We gotta find ways to win these types of matchups."