A few hours removed from the end of the game still hasn’t made this loss any less excruciating. Trying to drum up facts to feel good about is still a frustrating exercise. Coming off the best overall performance of the season with a win over Philadelphia, Seattle looked poised to start their typical December run. They are 18 – 5 in December since quarterback Russell Wilson has been under center.
All signs pointed to a team coming together, developing at the right time and finding their elusive identity. They even won the coin toss for land’s sake! From the beginning, the defense looked strong allowing only one field goal. But penalties and a turnover in the offense were the beginning tremors that would erupt later in a full seismic meltdown.
This is arguably the most complete game that the Seahawks have played this year. From the opening drive, the game seemed to go in favor of the Seahawks. The offense was led by quarterback Russell Wilson who once again turned into a wizard. He was scrambling his way out of would-be sacks and finding receivers like tight end Jimmy Graham for the 9th time in 8 games.
This week’s victory over San Francisco felt like a broken record. The distinct discrepancies between the two halves, the defense keeping Seattle in the game, missed field goals, and the offense finding its footing in the second half. They were able to pull out a win but still did not answer the questions of where this season is heading.
Seattle’s record is now 7-4 yet concern still arises that they will not even make it to the playoffs. Something that has only happened once in the 8 years Pete Carroll has been the head coach. This season has witnessed key contributors like corner Richard Sherman and defensive end Cliff Avril placed on IR; strong safety Kam Chancellor hasn’t played in two games with growing expectancy that he will also join them on IR.
There is gnashing of teeth in Seattle. There is pulling hair and screaming at TV announcers. When did Jon Gruden start sounding so condescending? Was it the first turnover by quarterback Russell Wilson? Or was it the first questionable call that head coach Pete Carroll called on a fake field goal? We had every chance to win this game, and somehow we came up short. Literally.
The Seahawks won. It doesn’t feel like it though. They paid a high price. There was a sense that this was a must-win game after last Sunday, but no one could have expected this. At least 7 Seahawks were injured. The most notable, safety Richard Sherman out for the rest of the year with a ruptured Achilles. Strong safetyKam Chancellor left the game with a stinger, left tackleDuane Brown (ankle), defensive tackleJarran Reed (hamstring), safetyShaquill Griffin (shoulder), and running backC.J. Prosise (ankle).
We had two weeks to recover and get prepared for this next rollercoaster ride with our beloved Seahawks. In those two weeks, I was able to come to the certain conclusion that we are never going to enjoy a predictable win. The first half was proof of my hypothesis about the season so far. The most glaring example was our five-minute flounder in the red zone which ended in zero points.
Going into halftime, the Seahawks left at least 14 points on the field because of key drops. Tight end Jimmy Graham was the culprit of two dropped passes including one in the end zone. Running back Thomas Rawls dropped another with the open field in front of him. Penalties by the offensive line stalled the drive, with guard Germaine Ifedi, committing three. The only turnover of the half by Rawls resulted in a touchdown by quarterback Eli Manning to tight end Evan Engram. Cameras showed a sideline exchange between wide receiver Doug Baldwin, offensive line coach Tom Cable, and quarterback Russell Wilson although later the situation looked like all had cooled off.
This was a familiar moment. The one at the end of the game where your palms are sweaty, your knees are weak, the dogs are bewildered, and your kids are apologizing to their friends because their mother is a raving maniac. Your beloved Seahawks are playing dominant and yet ineffective at the same time.
One side making great plays while the other side is incapable of moving the ball or stopping the opponent. Your team going right down to the last 8 seconds before securing a win and having a knack for making football watching the best cardio workout of the week. Oh wait, maybe that wasn’t you, maybe that was me.
The Seahawks have made news this week. Being one of the more outspoken teams on social issues, players like defensive end Michael Bennet and wide receiver Doug Baldwin could be seen on CNN talking about equality and justice. The team made strides on this issue by announcing that they are starting a new foundation called SeahawksPlayers Equality & Justice for All Action Fund “to support education and leadership programs addressing equality and justice.” Being as outspoken and comfortable as they are in the spotlight, they can highlight their emapthy and outrage as they face the multitude of question on this subject. Off the field the Seahawks have remained true to what they have always been.
Now, on the field has been a different story.
As the Seahawks get ready to play on Sunday Night Football, some of the painful questions that have come up over the last 3 weeks are still demanding to be answered. There have been questions about the fabled defense. Are they getting old? Have they lost their identity? There were comments made by safety Kam Chancellor calling out the defense after last week’s loss to the Titans, referring to their undisciplined play. The offense has also been put under the microscope: Why is quarterback Russell Wilson inaccurate? Is it in his head? Is the O-line ever going to get better? Where is tight end Jimmy Graham? Running back Eddie Lacy? Have they lost their identity as a run first team? Where are the big plays?
This weekend was guaranteed not to be a typical weekend in the NFL. With the reaction to the harsh comments from President Trump, there was not going to be a business as usual attitude. From the outset, the game had a different feel, with both teams opting to stay in the locker room for the national anthem.
The defense began the game with performances that we have come to expect. They forced a three-and-out on the first drive. Defensive end Michael Bennett and defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson were among many notable participants in shutting down Tennessee. Then Seattle received the ball on their 20 to start their drive and that is where things began to get interesting. Seattle went three-and-out with the offensive line getting penalized three times, two holding penalties and one unnecessary roughness all on just one third down play.
From that moment, the game turned into a flag fest and both teams paid dearly. Tennessee had two touchdowns taken away and Seattle had a key interception by safety Kam Chancellor taken back because of defensive pass interference on cornerback Richard Sherman. This sparked outrage by Sherman who took off his helmet to continue arguing with the official, and that caused an additional unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that took Tennessee from their 44-yard line to Seattle’s 25-yard line, for a gain of 31 yards.
It was ugly, in many ways unsatisfying, but it was a win.
It started out very promising and looked like the Seahawks were going to dominate. On opening possession, the offense sustained a drive that took 16 plays and 6:22 of the first quarter, which ended in a 25 yard field goal by Blair Walsh.
The defense was dominant in the first quarter as well, keeping San Francisco from converting a first down on their first drive. After an exchange of 3 and outs, the Seattle defense capitalized as Bobbie Wagner intercepted a Brian Hoyer pass. There was a fumble on the play which Richard Sherman recovered at the SF 36. This set up a second field goal for Seattle, which made the score 6 – 0.
In the second quarter, Carlos Hyde found some daylight and took advantage for a 61 yard run that ended at the Seattle 22 yard line. After
the long gain, San Francisco was unable to go further than the 22 and kicked a field goal. Seattle still on top 6-3.
Seattle’s offense was unable to gather any more momentum in the first half. Russell Wilson was under pressure and sacked, key drops from Tyler McEvoy and CJ Procise and holding penalties all combined to stymie the offense for the remainder of the first half.