NFC West Writer
INGLEWOOD, Calif. — Entering Week 11, Pete Carroll had considered a season-opening loss to the Los Angeles Rams at home as his Seattle Seahawks’ most disappointing of the year because they did not play like themselves.
But Sunday’s 17-16 loss to the Rams at SoFi Stadium might have topped it.
The Seahawks had control of the game early, leading 13-0 at one point in the first half and 16-7 after three quarters. However, Seattle quarterback Geno Smith suffered an arm injury on a hard hit by Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald late in the third quarter, and that swung the momentum L.A.’s way.
In pain on the sidelines, Smith missed two series in the fourth quarter as he tried to loosen his arm up so he could return to the field. In the meantime, Smith’s replacement, Drew Lock, threw an interception to Rams cornerback Derion Kendrick on a ball intended for Tyler Lockett.
The Rams took the miscue and marched 75 yards on 14 plays for the winning score, a 22-yard field goal by Ethan Evans with 1:31 left. The big play for Los Angeles happened on third-and-15 from L.A.’s 48-yard line, when Seattle cornerback Tariq Wollen was called for illegal hands to the face, extending the drive for the Rams.
The Seahawks finished with 12 accepted penalties for 130 yards and lead the league with 76 accepted penalties.
“I’m really disappointed because I feel like we did that to ourselves,” Carroll said. “We talk so much about that. We try to make sure that that’s not part of our game. And shoot, it was the biggest part of the game I thought.”
Smith managed to return to the game for one final chance for the Seahawks. He drove Seattle into field-goal position, but Jason Myers’ 55-yard effort landed short and right in the final seconds. Myers, the NFC special teams player of the week last week after making 5-of-5 field goals, hit from 54, 52 and 43 yards on Sunday, but he couldn’t connect on the last one.
“It was a great snap, good hold. It just didn’t go through,” Myers said.
The Rams improved to 4-6 with the victory. Seattle dropped to 6-4 with the loss, and now Carroll will have to see if Smith will be healthy enough to play on Thursday against the NFC West division-leading San Francisco 49ers at Lumen Field. The 49ers handled the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 27-14 at Levi’s Stadium, improving to 7-3.
Carroll said Smith suffered a bruise in the triceps area. After the game, Smith said he still has pain in his arm and will see how his body heals this week.
The Seahawks also lost running back Ken Walker III to an oblique strain early in the contest, and safety Jerrick Reed suffered a knee injury.
For the Rams, star receiver Cooper Kupp was sidelined early in the game with an ankle injury.
Smith played well for a second straight game, finishing 22-of-34 for 233 yards, with a touchdown pass to DK Metcalf and no interceptions. Lock struggled in his two possessions in relief of Smith, going 2-of-6 for three yards and an interception.
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The Seahawks start a tough four-game stretch of their schedule that includes hosting San Francisco on Thanksgiving evening, followed by a road contest against the Dallas Cowboys the following Thursday. Seattle then faces the 49ers on the road followed by a home contest against the defending NFC champion Philadelphia Eagles.
That rugged group of games will likely decide whether the Seahawks are playing for a shot at the postseason late in the year.
And it starts on Thursday with San Francisco.
“On Thursday games, you’re worried about everybody coming back,” Carroll said. “For every guy on your team, it’s hard to do. It’s one of the great challenges in the league. And so, we’ll find our way. … And they’ve got to do the same thing. So it’s a battle, and hopefully we’ll get our guys going.”
Eric D. Williams has reported on the NFL for more than a decade, covering the Los Angeles Rams for Sports Illustrated, the Los Angeles Chargers for ESPN and the Seattle Seahawks for the Tacoma News Tribune. Follow him on Twitter at @eric_d_williams.
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