Pretty clear what’s going to be the biggest obstacle this season in the Seattle Seahawks’ quest for an NFC West title – and anything beyond.
That would be the Seattle Seahawks.
Not that you haven’t seen this coming. In their undefeated run up to the off-week, the Seahawks had jitterbugged through countless land mines, doing their own spadework to plant many of them. Pains were taken to point out that the five victims in that stretch are a combined 9-23 now and that Seattle was heading into the here-be-dragons portion of the schedule, to little impact.
At Seahawks HQ, they apparently figured a COVID mask was all the muffling required for declarations of super-duperism.
Well, 5-0 is now 5-1, and it’s the way the Seahawks let the Arizona Cardinals escape State Farm Stadium with a 37-34 victory Sunday night that’s a concern.
OK, a 37-14 pasting wouldn’t hold any comfort, either. Still.
“It’s hard to win them all,” offered Seahawks coach Pete Carroll.
Especially when they’re determined to live on the edge.
Every. Single. Game.
And this one certainly didn’t have to reach that precipice.
With the clock clicking through the 3:00 mark, the Cardinals still trailed by 10 points and kicker Zane Gonzalez was putting a foot into what would have been a 52-yard field goal. Seattle’s beleaguered defense had done respectable work in keeping Arizona out of the end zone, so it felt like a win – until defensive end Benson Mayowa decided to use a Cardinals blocker as a pommel horse, earning a 15-yard penalty that made it first down and inducing the home club to take the points off the board.
And replace them with seven just two plays later, making the overtime-forcing field goal all but inevitable.
This was quite the banana peel. In the any-given-Sunday NFL, teams down 10 or more points with less than three minutes to play had lost 255 straight games.
“We’ve got to find a way to get off the field,” insisted linebacker Bobby Wagner. “That’s it – no more talking. We have to go show it. At this point, I have no words for you. Either we do it or we don’t.”
That may be the first admission of defensive liability this season that didn’t also echo Carroll’s caveat that, yeah, most of these yards allowed are coming because Seattle’s playing it safe with a big lead – never mind that it no lead seems to be safe.
It’s been obvious all along that the Seahawks have no pass rush – Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray didn’t get hit once on 50 dropbacks – and are largely fake-it-till-they-make-it in the secondary. But this night revealed new garden rakes for the Seahawks to step on, Sideshow Bob style.
• The calamitous penalty. Beyond Mayowa’s misery, there were two other daggers – although the first, a roughness call on Wagner that kept an Arizona drive alive, was Pac-12-level zebra misjudgment. David Moore’s hold that wiped out the DK Metcalf’s would-be winner in overtime, however, was the real deal, and pointless, as Metcalf was likely to get no worse than a first down and keep hope alive.
• Knowing your peeps. Running back Chris Carson was lost for the cause early with a foot sprain, and while Carlos Hyde was a prescient signing in the offseason, he’s the backup for a reason.
Yes, he had a pretty 24-yard touchdown run, but he is not the bull Carson is (and whiffed on a couple blitz pick-ups) – yet with just one more first down needed to run out the clock in the final two minutes, Hyde’s number got called three straight times.
That’s right. No role for MVP candidate Russell Wilson except handing off. Wonder if that would happen to Patrick Mahomes or Aaron Rodgers or, well, Kyler Murray? Did the cook stove run out of propane?
• Wilson is mortal. He passed for 388 yards and three more touchdowns, but he got beat up in overtime by the Cardinal blitz and also threw three troublesome interceptions – including one on the goal line and one that gave Arizona the ball back to win it where he got baited a bit.
“Nothing changes,” he insisted. “We have to tighten some things up and I have to be better, which I’m looking forward to. I wish we could play tomorrow.”
If they’d played better this day, it wouldn’t have wasted a marvelous game by Tyler Lockett – 15 catches, 200 yards, three TDs – and the memory of Metcalf ferociously running down Arizona’s Budda Baker to save a pick-6, though you can always save it to your meme file.
“We usually win games like this,” Wilson said. “We’ve done it for years, those close matchups. But our vision and who we’re going to be and who we are doesn’t change.”
But they have discovered that they can be multi-dimensional with their shortcomings.
No comfort there, either.
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