Chris Carson, running the ball in the second half against the LA Rams
Chris Carson, running the ball in the second half against the LA Rams Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

The Seahawks lost a 33-31 heartbreaker against the Rams, one that can be seen in three equally valid lights. The first and most obvious is that the Seahawks lost to the Rams, and now sit three games back in the division, cooked. This light makes the loss look bad; the Seahawks lost, and thus did not win and since winning is the goal of sports, their failure is real. Another light? The Seahawks were vastly outmatched by the talent of the Rams, and only through extraordinary effort were able to make the game close, and by all rights could have won it late. This is a more positive way of seeing the game. The Seahawks were not supposed to win this game; in fact, they were supposed to get shellacked. By getting anything but shellacked, they won a sort of moral victory, that is, of course, still a loss.

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Me? I tend towards the latter. But I get it if you’re mad the Seahawks lost. Or if you fall into the third category: the one who doesn’t care. That’s a great light in which to see this game, and I envy and admire you. However, as someone who does still give a shit about football, and wants to find a glimmer of hope in defeat, I’m going to break down yesterday’s game:

• I cannot emphasize enough how, unlike in past weeks, there should not be a high level of recrimination against the Seahawks for this one. Do I wish offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer didn’t call plays with the predictability of a man about to lose to a chicken in tic-tac-toe? Yeah, of course. But even though the playcalling was suspect, and the use (or lack thereof) of Russell Wilson at key moments was borderline criminal, the Seahawks’ offense played well. Putting up 31 points against an Aaron Donald-fueled nightmare machine that almost killed Russ last year? Pretty damn good.

Chris Carson looks great at running back and arguably Mike Davis has been even better. (For real, why did we draft Rashad Penny? The lunacy of that pick will haunt me to my grave in the vein of every move the Mariners made from 2004-2012.). Tyler Lockett broke free for a huge touchdown and has defined himself as an explosive machine. The offensive line is downright functional, and even reserve tight end Nick Vannett stepped up to provide an outlet for Russ on a moment of brilliant improvisation. Russ did not turn the ball over once. That there was meat left on the bone of a 31-point outing? That speaks to the quality of the Seahawks far more than their limitations.

• Even setting aside Brian Schottenheimer’s attempt to bring Sartre’s Being and Nothingness to life through his playcalling, there is still some stuff very broken with this offense. I think it boils down to this: Doug Baldwin ain’t right. One catch for one yard? He just ain’t right. He’s dealing with multiple knee injuries and it’s crushing him and the Seahawks' passing game alike. And that’s sad because this offense needs a reliable target to pair with the increasingly explosive Lockett. It’s also sad because Doug is great, and he’s clearly hurting.

• Similarly on the defensive side of the ball, allowing 33 points to this Rams team is hardly shameful, especially given the youth all over the Seahawks secondary. Tedric Thompson had some big hits (and some missed tackles) as he started his doomed mission to try and fill the impossibly large shoes of Earl Thomas. But the big hits were good and gave the Seahawks a chance to hang. The team could not pressure Jared Goff, which led to him hitting for some big chunk plays as Rams head coach and boy wizard Sean McVey is masterful at scheming guys open, but they also picked off Goff twice, which kept them in a game they otherwise could have lost their footing in. Bobby Wagner and Bradley McDougald again stood out as being excellent, and despite a gaudy three touchdown stat line, Todd Gurley was held in check for the most part.

• That said… some of the coverage issues without Earl in the lineup… woof. How much of that was the Rams and how much of it is that the Seahawks simply cannot survive without Earl Thomas will reveal itself in the coming weeks. Hopefully it’s mostly the former. But knowing how good Earl is, I fear that this and future season’s are going to be some hellish roads to hoe without Thomas holding down the back end of the defense.

• I love the Seahawks’ rookie punter Michael Dickson. He has a wide variety of punts and drop kicks that he can employ, and we’ve seen flashes of his limitless potential in the punting game. That said? He’s been kinda bad. He had a punt blocked, and botched a couple others on Sunday. I hope this trend ends soon because I like fun things, and Dickson at his best could be the most fun punter in the league.

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• There’s a weird controversy around how the game ended. See, the Seahawks called a timeout to preserve the clock after stopping the Rams on third down. The Rams, while the timeout happened, decided not to punt, but to instead go for it on fourth down, made it, and were able to kneel out the clock. Now, for me? I don’t think anyone did anything wrong here. Pete should try to save as much clock as possible, and McVey and the Rams should go for it on 4th and 1. The Rams out executed the Seahawks on the ensuing play, but neither coach messed up per se in that moment. But people online disagree with me and think Pete Carroll messed up. So if you disagree with me and think Pete messed up? That’s fine! If you agree with me and think this shit happens? That’s fine, too!

• The Seahawks could make the playoffs. That’s a crazy thing to type after they fell to 2-3. But like, they could. The rest of the division? Dreadful. The Cardinals and 49ers represent three good shots at wins going forward. Meanwhile the rest of the NFC looks far less good in practice than they did on paper. The Packers and Vikings are both meh. The Eagles are stuck in neutral. The Giants and Falcons are dreadful. Coming into the season, it looked like 11 wins might be the threshold for an NFC playoff berth. Now? After a bunch of teams have revealed themselves as frauds? The Seahawks, who are outplaying their raw talent level right now, are just non-fraudulent enough to live on the outside edge of the playoff conversation.

• The Seahawks probably won’t make the playoffs. Even with everything I just said? This is a 7 win team. And 7 wins only gets you to the playoffs so many times. BUT! If the Seahawks win in London against an absolutely horrid Oakland Raiders squad… well, we can start projecting them to be an 8 win team… and won’t that be thrilling? ARE YOU NOT THRILLED BY THE POSSIBILITY OF 8 WINS????