One of the surprises from Week 1 in the NFL came in Seattle, where the afterthought Rams outplayed a Seahawks team that entered 2023 with hopes of reaching greater heights.
They certainly didn't play like it Sunday, especially in the second half. Los Angeles dominated Seattle on both sides of the ball in the final two quarters, shutting down the Geno Smith-led Seahawks offense and piling on for a runaway win.
The result was, in a word, shocking to most everyone. A Rams team lacking in talent on paper outplayed the Seahawks, riding standout performances from the previously unknown receiver tandem of Puka Nacua and Tutu Atwell to a 30-13 triumph. Seattle's key playmakers didn't show up and took the first steps toward rectifying that Wednesday by admitting they lacked the most simple necessary element to win a game: effort.
Metcalf made a difference in the first half, scoring a touchdown thanks to a double move that was so devastating, all Smith had to do was toss the ball to him in the end zone. But Metcalf -- and the rest of the Seahawks' offense -- disappeared in the second half, totaling just 12 yards as a team.
Los Angeles, meanwhile, played as if their lives depended upon the outcome.
"I really can't speak for everybody else's, but my part was just effort," Metcalf said. "And play after play, just 100% effort, it wasn't just there like it's been in the past. So, I know that's one thing I've got to clean up. And just playing as a team. When something goes wrong or adversity hits, we just can't start pointing fingers or just looking around for somebody else to make a play or just to have an answer. Can't look for the coaches.
"We just have to look inward and rely on ourselves or our teammates and the practices that we've had, all the connectedness that we've had since late July. All we got to do is just start depending on each other and just start playing as a team more."
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll needs that type of effort from his players if Seattle is going to return to the postseason, starting with Week 2.
"I feel like at the end of the game we didn't play very well on offense. I thought we got in trouble a little bit," Carroll admitted on Wednesday. "Defensively, I pointed out how hard we played at the end of the game. It wasn't a conditioning issue; we got a little distracted. Things didn't go very well. We need to find our rhythm better on offense."
In the pre-internet era, an observer would summarize Seattle's lack of effort as signs of a team spending too much time reading its press clippings. There were undoubtedly enough of those to go around this offseason, a period in which the Seahawks rewarded Smith for his efforts with a contract extension.
But that investment didn't pay off Sunday. Smith completed just 16 of 26 passes for 112 yards and one touchdown (the toss to Metcalf), failing to make even a modicum of a difference as the Rams steadily padded their lead.
All can be corrected with a Week 2 win over the Detroit Lions, who return home on a high note after opening the season with a win over the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs. Seattle will undoubtedly need to be ready to give maximum effort to take down the upstart Lions, a team it took to the wire in a 48-45 shootout win last season.
There's no rest for the weary, nor the complacent. We'll see if the Seahawks learn this lesson quickly enough to turn it around this weekend.