Seattle Seahawks' DK Metcalf-Russell Wilson connection hasn't quite clicked

INGLEWOOD, Calif. -- Seattle Seahawks wide receiver DK Metcalf ran by Jalen Ramsey and had at least three yards on the Los Angeles Rams cornerback, in perfect position to haul in one of quarterback Russell Wilson's trademark deep balls to score the tying touchdown midway through the fourth quarter Tuesday night.

It was at least the second time in the Seahawks' 20-10 loss that Metcalf had gotten open behind Ramsey for what could have been a long touchdown but wasn't. And when Wilson's pass down the left sideline was badly underthrown, giving Ramsey enough time to catch up and knock it away, Metcalf swung at the air with his right arm in frustration.

It was that kind of night for a defective offense that missed out on a multiple scoring chances in a defeat that all but eliminated Seattle from playoff contention.

It's been that kind of season for a 5-9 team that has been consistently unable to recapture the finishing touch that lifted the Seahawks to so many narrow victories over the previous nine seasons.

And it's been that kind of stretch for their quarterback and third-year receiver, who will try to get on the same page Sunday against the Chicago Bears (4-10) at Lumen Field (4:05 p.m. ET, Fox).

Of the many aspects of the Seahawks' offense that hasn't been producing since Wilson returned from his finger injury, his usually strong connection with Metcalf is among them.

"They're trying their ass off to play right," coach Pete Carroll said. "They're working on their stuff, their routes. The calls are there. We're trying to get the ball there. We've just got to throw and catch it and we've got to make the plays and they've got to get the job done."

Over the first eight games, Metcalf was continuing his ascension to full-blown stardom. His eight touchdown catches were tied for second in the NFL, while his 580 yards put him on pace (with a 17th game) to threaten his own franchise record of 1,303 from last season. That stretch included three full games and the end of a fourth with Geno Smith at quarterback.

But since Week 10, Wilson's first game back, Metcalf hasn't topped 60 yards receiving or caught a touchdown pass. He's averaged one fewer catch and nearly half as many yards in those six games compared to the first eight. That's despite averaging nearly one more target per game.

With Tyler Lockett out, one of 10 Seahawks placed on the COVID-19 list ahead of the Rams game, Metcalf was the focal point of Seattle's passing game. He caught six passes for 52 yards on a season-high 12 targets. One incompletion was a drop when Wilson fired a high-and-outside -- but catchable -- ball to Metcalf on short hitch route, usually a gimme. Another was a red zone throw near the end of the first half that Wilson sailed out of the end zone. The last one was a desperation heave that was picked off.

"They working at it and they're developing," Carroll told 710 ESPN Seattle. "They're a pretty dangerous pair. We've just got to keep going. ... We hit the deep ball, everything would have been different."

Carroll was referring to the fourth-quarter underthrow to Metcalf. But he was also Wilson's intended target on another deep shot near the end of the first half, when he had blown by Ramsey on a double move. Wilson's arm was hit as he released the ball, causing it to flutter to tight end Gerald Everett. Seattle had to settle for a field goal.

"Gerald makes a great catch on it," Wilson said, "but that was a touchdown."

Metcalf also had a touchdown against Houston called back because of a holding penalty.

Aside from some tough luck, the most obvious explanation for Metcalf's dip in production is that Wilson hasn't been himself. As arguably the NFL's best deep-ball passer, the fourth-quarter throw he missed to Metcalf was one he probably could make 19 times out of 20 prior to his finger injury. He hasn't had his usual accuracy since his return, and he was particularly off in his first three games back.

Then again, that hasn't stopped Lockett from producing three games with at least 90 yards, to go along with a pair of touchdowns, in the five he's played since Wilson's return.

Another possible -- if not likely -- factor is that Metcalf has been dealing with a foot injury for much of the season. He's only given terse responses to questions about the injury and has said it's not an issue. But even if it hasn't kept him from playing and isn't bothering him on game day, it has forced him to miss extensive practice time. He's routinely gotten at least one rest day per week.

"He's not able to practice on a normal regimen," Carroll said. "There's no question that for any player, it upsets your process, your learning process."

It's been an eventful season for Metcalf between his foot injury, up-and-down production and a few instances of opposing defenders getting under his skin. All this comes in the all-important third year of his rookie contract, which means he'll be eligible for an extension at season's end.

"Everybody's working at it, everybody's trying to get it done and we're trying to make the most of whatever we can," Carroll said. "We don't miss the fact that he's worthwhile going to and we're trying to get the ball to him. ... So the intent is there. We've just got to execute and get it done and let him be the marvelous player that he is and help him do that. Russ has got to do his part and DK has got to do his part and everybody's got to get together.

"It's frustrating because we want to do better and we know it's there to be had."