By Shannon Sanchez // @ShannonSanchez3
Seattle 24 – Jacksonville 30
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.
Guard Germain Ifedi quickly racked up two costly penalties. Quarterback Russell Wilson threw an interception by cornerback Jalen Ramsey in the end zone that was intended for wide receiver Doug Baldwin. On the bright side, running back Mike Davis was consistently gaining yards, having four rushes for 49 yards in the second quarter against the best rushing defense in the league. And then another chink showed up. A failed field goal attempt by kicker Blair Walsh at the end of the first half. Seattle went into halftime with nothing to show for the best offensive performance of the first half: Jacksonville 3 and Seattle 0.
The second half started with high hopes that were quickly dashed and another fissure developed. Quarterback Russell Wilson was flagged for intentional grounding on the first play. On the next play, he was picked off again by cornerback A.J. Bouye which ended in a Jacksonville touchdown. If that wasn’t bad enough, Seattle’s best contender for Defensive Player of the Year, linebacker Bobby Wagner, left the game with a nagging hamstring injury and never returned.
Seattle came back to tie quickly with a successful field goal followed by a fumble recovery on the kick off by safety Tedric Thompson, and a 26 yard touchdown pass from Wilson to Baldwin. The tie didn’t last long as quarterback Blake Bortles threw a 75 yard TD pass to wide receiver Keelan Cole.
They followed this with another touchdown by running back Leonard Fournette. Setting up a question about how vital Wagner is in Seattle’s defense. Since he had left the game, Jacksonville scored a touchdown each time they took possession. And the foundation was rocked one more time, with linebacker K.J. Wright leaving the game to undergo concussion protocol.
There were signs of hope, as Wilson began to do those fourth quarter heroics that Seattle has come to expect. Two quick touchdowns pulled Seattle to within six points of Jacksonville. But having dug a big hole with 3 interceptions, Wilson’s magic, while always effective, wasn’t going to be enough. With 2:39 left in the game there were still a healthy chance to take the lead. At one point WR Baldwin caught a pass and ran out of bounds leaving a 2nd and 1 instead of trying to get another yard before going out.
The next play was an 8 yard loss as Wilson got sacked. Then came the no-call that blew the tops off the composure of the Seahawks. On a 4th and 9, Seattle goes for it and Wilson threw a pass to Baldwin that was incomplete. On the same play was a blatant illegal contact by Jacksonville that wasn’t called, it would have given Seattle a first down. It looked like Seattle would hold Jacksonville to a three and out but on 3rd and 11, RB Fournette ran for a first down, ending Seattle’s comeback.
But that wasn’t the end, a full eruption started as Jacksonville went into victory formation. At that point defensive end Michael Bennett looked as though he went for the knees of a Jacksonville player which started a skirmish that ended with defensive end Sheldon Richardson getting ejected for throwing a punch.
As well as immediate and sharp criticism of Bennett being a nominee for Walter Peyton Sportsman of the Year. Another play, another victory formation, and another skirmish with another Seattle player getting ejected. This time it was defensive end Quinton Jefferson who was ejected. Pete Carroll ran out to the field to calm players down and was flagged 15 yards for running out on the field.
All the while Jefferson was engaging in another skirmish on the sidelines, this time with a fan in the crowd. As he was walking back to locker room, fans were throwing beer and soda at him, which he took exception to.
In all of this, the injuries and the loss, the most astounding fact is that Seattle is still poised to be able to take the NFC West with a win over the Los Angeles Rams next week. In the NFC West standings they lost no ground since the Rams fell to the Eagles.
Talk Seahawks with Shannon on Twitter // @ShannonSanchez3