ST. LOUIS -- No team can win this way. No team should win this way, not with an offensive line this bad. The Seattle Seahawks have won ugly several times this season. This one was beyond ugly.
It was hideous Monday night, but it was a victory -- 14-9 over the outmanned St. Louis Rams at a half-empty Edward Jones Dome in a city where the World Series eight blocks away kept most people in town from watching what almost was the biggest upset of the season.
A goal-line stand at the end saved the night for the Seahawks, the game ending on an incomplete pass on great coverage by Seattle when the Rams had fourth-and-goal at the 1 on the game's final play.
A win is a win, no matter what. And the Seahawks are an impressive 7-1 at the halfway point after playing four of their previous five games on the road.
It’s commendable, but this is not a Super Bowl-caliber team; not right now, anyway. No team can reach a Super Bowl with an offensive line that played the way this one did Monday night.
Russell Wilson was sacked seven times, with pass protection becoming a problem that keeps getting worse. And the run blocking wasn’t any better.
Only their moms or their wives would give the Seattle offensive line a grade higher than an F on Monday, and it isn’t just because of backup tackles playing for the injured starters. No one up front played well. No one up front even played at an average level.
“We had a million problems in protection,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “The Rams rushed like crazy and we did a ton of stuff to try to offset it, but nothing helped us.”
The Rams have a solid pass rush, led by defensive ends Robert Quinn and Chris Long, who had three sacks each. And yes, the Seahawks' offensive line will get better when tackles Russell Okung and Breno Giacomini return from injuries.
But if you think that’s the cure-all, you are mistaken. The entire line needs to get miles better if this team is going to win the NFC West and possibly reach the Super Bowl.
Wilson can’t continue to take this much punishment and remain uninjured. The Seahawks will not beat good teams -- like upcoming opponents New Orleans and San Francisco -- with an offensive line that gets manhandled at the line of scrimmage.
And the Seahawks can’t keep winning like this when they are outplayed so badly up front.
The Rams had 23 first down to Seattle’s seven. St. Louis, playing backup quarterback Kellen Clemens, had 339 yards of offense to Seattle's 135 yards.
And 80 of those yards came on one play, the big play by receiver Golden Tate. Sadly, it will be remembered more for his childish taunting than for his exceptional athletic move to come up with the ball. As Tate raced for the end zone, he stuck out his hands to St. Louis safety Rodney McCleod, moving his fingers as if to say, “Don’t yap.” McLeod almost ran Tate down in the process. The display drew a 15-yard penalty for taunting that was enforced on the ensuing kickoff.
“That is not the way we want to play,” Carroll said. “That is not who we are. He is more mature than that. He is a playful, spirited guy who had too much fun at the wrong time. It was not the right thing to do and he knew it.”
Tate, who also had a 2-yard TD catch for Seattle’s other score, said it was a lesson learned and he apologized to his teammates. But there are no apologies for the offensive line.
It wasn’t the only problem the Seahawks had against the 3-5 Rams. St. Louis rushed for 200 yards against a Seahawks defense that was averaging only 92 yards a game against the run.
“They ran all over us,” said defensive tackle Red Bryant. “Give them credit. They know us well and they were tough.”
No one is too worried about the Seattle run defense over one bad game. But every game is a bad game for the offensive line, and it can’t continue.
Once again, as Wilson says, “We found a way to win.” But it’s starting to look like smoke and mirrors. The odds will catch up with the team if the line doesn’t show improvement soon.
It’s time to make some changes. Don’t wait for the tackles to get back. Okung can’t return until at least Nov. 17, and Giacomini probably is two weeks away from getting back.
Do something now. Make a change, if for nothing else, just to show that the current play is unacceptable. Put someone else in as a starter -- Lemuel Jeanpierre, for example. Even consider making a trade before Tuesday afternoon's deadline. Just do something to shake things up.
Don’t let one weak link keep an outstanding football team from reaching its goals. No more excuses. Fix it by any means necessary.