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Blanchette: Offensive power outage, defensive collapse cost Seahawks against Bills

UPDATED: Sun., Nov. 8, 2020

By John Blanchette For The Spokesman-Review

When the Comcast jalopy threw a rod in the middle of brunch with the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, a funny thing happened.

Spokane customers were moved to dash off thank-you notes.

Alas, the picture came back sometime in the third quarter. So the only recourse was cord cutting.

Now, chances are the redoubtable 12s of the township will patch it back together with paper clips and electrical tape in time for next Sunday’s bid for redemption. But, man, if the Seahawks seemed bent on surrender for a day, you couldn’t blame even the most steadfast soldier for going out and attending to the leaf raking instead.

It was 17-0 Buffalo when the tube flickered out, and if the final score of 44-34 suggests the Seahawks played the Bills even or better the rest of the way, not even Pete Carroll was demanding a recount.

“I don’t recognize that game,” said Carroll, whose recent contract extension was reported earlier in the day. “I don’t have any place in my brain for it.”

That’s funny. He didn’t see this coming?

Well, maybe he did, no matter how his 24/7 positivity might veil it.

Having reached the midpoint of the NFL season 6-2 is surely something the Seahawks can feel good about, the operative question with victories always being “How many?” and not the how.

But it’s been detailed week after week how thin the Seahawks are slicing it with their destiny, often against poor or marginal opponents. They’re running out of those with the schedule backloaded with NFC West games, and the Bills perhaps delivered a dreadful truth.

All the “Let Russ Cook” noise – that was a foregone conclusion at Carroll and Co. Left unspoken was that Russell Wilson has to cook to perfection for Seattle to even be at the table with the NFL’s upper class.

And Sunday went down like a gravel omelet and a vinegar mimosa.

It was a four-turnover day for the Seahawks quarterback – a pair of fumbles and two interceptions that Buffalo turned into 20 points. Even the NFL’s steeliest defenses would strain to overcome D-plus performances from their quarterbacks, but overcoming isn’t even in the Seattle defense’s vocabulary.

Overcoming is Wilson’s job, and on Sunday the weight of that assignment – requiring he get the Seahawks into the end zone every possession – showed. He forced passes, misread coverages and blanked on open receivers.

Naturally, it doesn’t help when the offensive line reverts to 2018 form – Wilson was sacked five times and hit on 11 other dropbacks. And Chris Carson can’t get over his bum foot quickly enough; without him, there is no there there to the running game.

The Seahawks were already down 14-0 when Wilson threw that first interception into a crowd in the end zone on fourth down; the deficit was back to two touchdowns when he didn’t see Buffalo’s Tre’Davious White peel off his man and slip between Wilson and DK Metcalf for the killer pick. His gaffes didn’t so much torpedo his MVP campaign as cement how valuable he is.

“We needed a play – that’s the reality,” Wilson said. “Sometimes you have to go for it. We just have to get cleaner – that’s the thing about this game more than anything else, rather than trying to make up reasons.

“We scored 34 points, which means we’re a pretty good offense, but today we needed to score (45).”

Which is beginning to seem like every week. Six times this season, opposing quarterbacks have thrown for 300 or more yards against Seattle.

“These guys didn’t even try to run the football,” Carroll said. “We didn’t expect that to happen. We didn’t think they’d just totally abandon the running game. We had a real nice plan if they were going to run it.”

OK, then.

So how about that plan if they’re going to pass?

Well, maybe there’s not a whole lot Carroll isn’t trying. It’s no secret that injuries have forced the Seahawks to backfill in the secondary to almost ridiculous extremes, and on Sunday they were apparently stuck playing hobbled cornerback Quinton Dunbar, who might have done better on crutches.

They did get safety Jamal Adams back and Carlos Dunlap was busy in his first action since being acquired from Cincinnati, and the Seattle pass rush sacked Josh Allen a whopping seven times after amping up the blitzes – but as often as the blitzers got home, Allen made it moot.

“Every time he moved, he made something happen,” Carroll admitted.

And sometimes the Seahawks did it for him. After clawing back to within a touchdown in the fourth quarter, a sack on third down could have given them the opportunity to tie – except Adams was flagged for illegal contact. On the next third down, Carroll himself dialed up max pressure – and a wide receiver screen broke for 33 yards.

“It’s a long season,” Carroll said. “We’ve got to hang together. I’m not going to be calling anybody out.”

Just a whisper to his quarterback: Russ, you have to be perfect, man.

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