Seahawks lose NFC West lead after Russell Wilson exceeds margin for error

With as bad as their defense has been this season, the Seattle Seahawks have needed Russell Wilson to be nearly perfect.

The quarterback was far from that in Seattle's first two losses, throwing three interceptions against the Arizona Cardinals and committing four turnovers last week against the Buffalo Bills.

The difference on Sunday against the Los Angeles Rams was that Seattle's embattled defense did its job after starting slow. Wilson and the NFL's highest-scoring offense did not.

Wilson threw two more interceptions and didn't have anything close to his MVP form from earlier in the season. The result was a 23-16 loss that drops the Seahawks (6-3) out of first place in the NFC West, with the Rams and Cardinals now atop of the division with 6-3 records and wins over the Seahawks.

This would have been one of the Seahawks' more impressive regular-season wins of the Pete Carroll era, given everything they were missing: their top two running backs (Chris Carson and Carlos Hyde), top two cornerbacks (Shaquill Griffin and Quinton Dunar) and starting center (Ethan Pocic), which forced inexperienced backup Kyle Fuller to start against Aaron Donald and a tough Rams front.

Still, it's their second straight loss following a 5-0 start. Thursday night's rematch against Arizona has as much of a must-win feel as there can be in mid-November.

Troubling trend: Wilson's 13 turnovers this season are his most through the first 10 games in his career. He had 11 each in his 2012 rookie season and in 2013, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. To be fair, one of his three turnovers Sunday was the result of a low snap he couldn't handle, which was not all his fault. But his first interception was brutal, ruining a great scoring chance after a Jamal Adams strip sack set up the offense with a short field. Wilson had room to run. It was another indication that he might be pressing because of Seattle's defensive struggles. Either way, the MVP talk will have to be put on hold after another less-than-stellar performance by Wilson, his third over the past four games.

Biggest hole in the game plan: Not getting DK Metcalf involved more. To be fair, he was matched up for much of the game against Jalen Ramsey, maybe the NFL's best cornerback. Metcalf didn't see his first target until his 9-yard catch late in the third quarter. He finished with two catches for 28 yards on four targets. Wilson slightly overthrew a would-be touchdown pass to Metcalf in the fourth quarter and appeared to not see him open on a few other plays.

Pivotal play: Midway through the third quarter, the Seahawks burned a timeout by unsuccessfully challenging a spot, then decided to not go for it on fourth-and-inches from their own 39. Not having either of their top two running backs or their starting center must have factored into the decision, especially with Donald on the other side. Still, not going for it amounts to trusting a historically bad defense more than the NFL's top-ranked offense. Not surprisingly, the Rams drove 88 yards for a touchdown.

Promising trend: Jason Myers is having a tremendous second season with Seattle. He made the longest field goal in franchise history when he barely cleared the crossbar on a 61-yard attempt to end the first half. He made another late field goal to stay a perfect 10-of-10 this season. He's 34-of-35 on PATs. The structure of the four-year contract Myers signed last year meant there was virtually no way the Seahawks could move on from him after his up-and-down 2019. But he needed a strong 2020 to ensure he saw the third year of that deal, and he's delivering one. The franchise's previous career long was 58 yards (Josh Brown in 2003, Stephen Hauschka in 2014).