For the second time in their first four games, the Seahawks followed an impressive win at home with a depressing performance on the road. Sunday, it was a 20-3 loss to the Rams in St. Louis.
The Seahawks attempted to carry a feel-good effort at home onto the road and turn it into a needed victory.
For the second time in four games, they came away feeling confused. And disappointed. And even a little embarrassed.
That will happen when you follow a 27-20 victory at home against the San Diego Chargers with a 20-3 loss to the St. Louis Rams – a team the Seahawks defeated the last 10 times they had faced them. But Sunday’s setback at the Edward Jones Dome was even more perplexing than the one-step-forward/one-step-back way the Seahawks opened the season – a 31-6 win over the San Francisco 49ers at Qwest Field that was followed by a 31-14 loss to the Broncos in Denver.
Compounding the Seahawks’ split-personality predicament is that no one seemed to have any answers for what ails this team when it hits the road.
“We can’t be two different teams,” veteran strong safety Lawyer Milloy said in the locker room, offering an assessment that was as spot-on as it was succinct.
The Seahawks now have their bye week to pull what have been two polar-opposite teams into a single unit before they head out on the road again for an Oct. 17 game against the Bears in Chicago.
“We came into this weekend looking at a real good opportunity to go into a bye-week break and be in first place in our division,” coach Pete Carroll said. “That was a big objective, getting them to play right on the road. And we missed that opportunity.”
Instead of being 3-1, the Seahawks are – like the Rams – 2-2. They’re still tied for the division lead after the Arizona Cardinals lost to the Chargers later in the day, but also fit to be tied because of the way they’re 2-2.
“We have to get our game right, so we can take it out and play right and execute,” Carroll said. “So, we’ve got a lot of work to do. We need the bye desperately.”
Asked about the sluggish starts by his offense – the Seahawks have yet to score in the first quarter – Carroll offered, “I don’t know what it is about the first quarter. There’s no good reason for that.”
Asked about the Seahawks being one team at home, but a completely different team on the road, quarterback Matt Hasselbeck said, “I don’t have an answer for you.”
When the same question was asked of linebacker Aaron Curry, he had a similar response: “I don’t know the answer to that question.”
The situation was magnified on this day by a Rams team that seemed to have an answer for whatever the Seahawks tried.
After Leon Washington and Golden Tate combined for almost 300 yards in kickoff and punt returns against the Chargers to enter this game as the league leaders in their respective specialties, the Rams limited them to 98. It was a big reason the field-position situation was “tilted,” as Carroll put. The Rams’ average starting point for their 13 possessions was their 38-yard line, while the Seahawks’ for their 13 possessions was their 21. The Seahawks also had the ball in Rams’ territory on four of their five possessions in the first half, but came away with only the field goal that ended up supply all their points – the fewest they’ve scored since a 27-3 loss at Arizona in Week 6 last season.
Despite facing a rookie quarterback in Sam Bradford and a sore-groined running back in Steven Jackson, the Rams compiled 349 yards of offense – 124 on 25 touches by Jackson (70 rushing, 54 receiving) and 289 from Bradford on a 23-of-41, two-TD passing performance.
After rushing for 49 yards in the first half, Justin Forsett had 16 in the second half, while 64 of the Seahawks’ 219 passing yards came on two plays – and one of those was a 28-yard pass from fullback Michael Robinson to Washington.
A team that created five turnovers against the Chargers came up with one against the Rams. It was a big one – an end zone interception by rookie free safety Earl Thomas – but only one nonetheless.
The sum of those numbers was another road loss for the Seahawks.
And they aren’t just 0-2 on the road this season; they’re now 1-9 over the past two seasons and 3-14 over the past three seasons.
While they are a better team, as the wins over the favored 49ers and Chargers indicate, they won’t be as good as they want to be – and feel they can be – until they start winning games on the road.
“The bye week is going to be big for us,” Milloy said. “It’s very early in the season still. But we’ve got to figure it out. We’ve to figure the road thing out early. We’ve got to be more consistent. Teams that are successful in this league are the ones that can win on the road.
“Obviously we feel good when we come home to play. But we’ve got to bring that same team on the road. And that we haven’t done.”