SEATTLE -- The Seahawks now have more than a historically leaky defense and an early deficit in the NFC West standings to worry about. For one of the few times over the past decade, Russell Wilson's health is also a concern.
Wilson was knocked out of their 26-17 loss to the Los Angeles Rams on Thursday night after injuring the middle finger on his throwing hand in the third quarter. He returned for one series but was replaced by Geno Smith, who led a touchdown drive to give Seattle (2-3) hope but then threw an interception to all but seal the win for the Rams (4-1).
Speaking after the game, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll called the injury a "badly sprained finger" and said it was too early to put a timetable on Wilson's return. Carroll said he didn't know if Wilson will need surgery.
"There is a lot of work to be done in assessing all of that," Carroll said. "Russell is one of the great healers of all time, and he'll do whatever he can to get back as soon as absolutely possible."
The Seahawks have a mini-bye before they travel to Pittsburgh to play the Steelers on Oct. 17. Wilson hasn't missed a game in his NFL career. He has made 149 consecutive starts, the longest streak by an active quarterback.
Wilson was not available to the media after the game.
Smith replaced Wilson early in the fourth quarter and threw a 23-yard touchdown pass to DK Metcalf to cut Los Angeles' lead to 16-14. Metcalf's second touchdown of the night capped a 10-play, 98-yard drive on which Smith went 5-for-5, prompting the crowd at Lumen Field to chant "GE-NO! GE-NO!"
Wilson banged his throwing hand against Aaron Donald's arm on a third-quarter incompletion. The Fox broadcast showed the tip of Wilson's finger unnaturally bent downward. He was examined for several minutes on the sideline by the Seahawks' team doctor and members of their athletic training staff, who watched Wilson grip a football and then bandaged his finger.
Wilson returned for the Seahawks' next drive, throwing one short pass on a three-and-out. He was replaced by Smith when Seattle regained possession. After Smith's touchdown pass to Metcalf, Wilson ran down the sideline to celebrate with teammates, patting one player on the helmet with his left hand.
Carroll said "everyone was together" on the decision to insert Smith, adding that Wilson "knows his body" and knew he wouldn't help them with an injured finger.
"He wasn't able to hold on to the football the way he needed to, to throw it, because we were going to throw the ball, and we needed to throw it all over the place," Carroll said. "We didn't know what he would be able to do. He was just unsure. ... If he could have, he would have."
Wilson went 11-of-16 for 152 yards, a touchdown and an interception on a tipped throw. Smith went 10-of-17 for 131 yards, adding 23 yards rushing on three attempts. His interception was on a throw intended for Tyler Lockett, who fell down.
"Geno did a really, really good job, very much in command," Carroll said. "We were able to do all kinds of things with him out there. He handled all the communications beautifully and played really well. We had a chance to win a football game. With all of that, we had a chance to win the football game with the ball in our hands and couple minutes to go."
The Seahawks, playing without running back Chris Carson (neck) and tight end Gerald Everett (reserve/COVID-19) led 7-3 at halftime before the Rams opened the third quarter with consecutive touchdown drives. Los Angeles finished with 476 yards of total offense, with 68 coming on an underthrown Matthew Stafford pass that DeSean Jackson caught between cornerback Sidney Jones and safety Jamal Adams.
The Seahawks held the Rams to 2-of-10 on third down but finished with only one sack and three official hits on Stafford.
According to ESPN Stats & Information, Seattle has allowed at least 450 total yards in four straight games, the longest streak in team history and tied for the longest streak in NFL history.
"We've got s--- we need to fix, and everybody knows that," said safety Quandre Diggs, who had his second interception in as many weeks. "At the end of the day, you either do your job or you're not ready for this type of atmosphere. Just plain and simple."
Smith, 30, is in his third season with the Seahawks. Over his first two, he had attempted only five passes in mop-up duty. Smith's touchdown pass was his first since 2017, the year he made his most recent start. His 98-yard drive was the longest of his career and the Seahawks' longest touchdown drive since Week 17 of the 2018 season, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
Smith made 29 starts over two seasons with the New York Jets after they drafted him in the second round in 2013. He was asked what he wants to show the NFL if he gets the call next Sunday in Pittsburgh.
"I just want to win," he said. "That's all that is important. I just want to win."