INGLEWOOD, Calif. -- It was right there for the Seattle Seahawks, a deep shot down the sideline with arguably the NFL's best deep-ball thrower and one of the league's biggest and fastest targets.
But like many things in this disappointing and now all-but-over Seahawks season, it didn't work.
When Russell Wilson underthrew an open DK Metcalf on a third-down play midway through the fourth quarter of their 20-10 loss Tuesday at SoFi Stadium -- costing the Seahawks what might have been the tying touchdown or at least a big gain deep into Los Angeles Rams territory -- so ended their best chance of beating their division rival and keeping their ultra-slim playoff hopes alive.
"I was trying to get it out of my hand," Wilson said. "They got off the ball pretty good there and I tried to get it out of my hand. He was kind of doing a double move, so I tried to get it out of my hand before I got hit, just tried to put some air under it, let him go get it. Sometimes those double moves are ... tricky because you never know when they're going to come out of it. I wish I could have had that one back. That was the one I wish we could have had back."
They had another chance after that. So now Seahawks fans can debate which was worse: officials not calling pass interference on a fourth-down throw to DeeJay Dallas -- who had linebacker Ernest Jones all over him -- or the NFL moving this game from Sunday to Tuesday as a result of the leaguewide spike in COVID-19 cases that hit the Rams' locker room particularly hard.
"It happened quickly and it didn't look very good on the little replay that somebody showed me, but I don't know," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said of the fourth-down play. "I'm not bellyaching about that call. We needed to win the game in all the other ways we could win the game."
The game got postponed -- to Los Angeles' advantage much more than Seattle's -- and now the Seahawks' playoff chances are basically cancelled. Per ESPN Stats & Information, it's down to around 0.1%, odds that only Lloyd Christmas could appreciate.
With three games left, the Seahawks are assured of their first losing season since 2011, the year before they drafted Wilson. And they're all but assured of missing out on the playoffs for only the second time in Wilson's career.
"We're playing for each other," Carroll said. "We're playing for the cause of loving this game and living the guys that are in the locker room that are with us ... You saw how hard we played tonight. There's nothing but guys fighting for one another, so that's what we'll do, wherever we're playing, whoever we're playing, whenever it happens. It doesn't matter if it's Tuesday night or Sunday or whatever."
The Seahawks played without leading receiver Tyler Lockett and two other starters in right tackle Brandon Shell and cornerback D.J. Reed, who were among the 10 players they placed on the COVID-19 list this week.
"I'm sick that we didn't have a chance to play with Tyler in this game because this is the kind of game that he would have been a factor in for sure," Carroll said.
Pivotal play. Bless Austin was flagged for defensive holding on the Rams' go-ahead touchdown drive in the fourth quarter. The penalty gave them an automatic first down and negated what would have been a third-down stop deep in LA territory. The Rams took 17-10 lead six plays later with Matthew Stafford's second TD pass to Cooper Kupp. Austin, a former starter with the New York Jets, was flagged for pass interference earlier in the game. It figured the Seahawks would badly miss Reed against the Rams' duo of Kupp and Odell Beckham Jr., and they sure did.
QB breakdown. In addition to the fourth-quarter miss, Wilson overthrew Metcalf on another play in third quarter. These weren't the head-scratching whiffs on easier throws that marred Wilson's first three games back from his finger injury, but it was far from the typical Wilson. Throwing the deep ball may be what he does best as a quarterback, but Wilson went 1-of-11 (9.1%) on passes of 10-plus air yards Tuesday. That's the worst completion percentage of his career on those throws. Wilson finished 17-of-31 for 156 yards and a late desperation pick.
Postponement gripe? The move to Tuesday helped the Rams but didn’t hurt the Seahawks as much as you might think, at least not in this game. Of the 10 players they placed on the COVID-19 list this week, all but one tested positive Sunday morning or before, meaning they would’ve been out had the game been that afternoon as originally scheduled. Defensive tackle Bryan Mone tested positive Monday, but he was already looking doubtful due to an injury. Some of the key players the Rams got back from the COVID list -- including receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and running back Darrell Henderson Jr. – would have been available Sunday. It’s not clear whether star cornerback Jalen Ramsey would have been available. Linebacker Von Miller, who had one of the Rams’ three sacks of Wilson, definitely wouldn’t have been available Sunday, as he wasn’t activated until Tuesday.
“I don’t think it put us in a disadvantage really,” Carroll said. “I think the delay helped them. It helped them. They were able to get some guys back that wouldn’t have played on Sunday I think.”