SEATTLE – Riding the galloping ghost of Bo Jackson, or at least his modern incarnation, the Raiders on Sunday dealt the Seahawks a defeat that was both painful and fitting.
Las Vegas running back Josh Jacobs sprinted, untouched and with almost insulting ease, 86 yards for the overtime touchdown that gave the Raiders a 40-34 upset victory.
No Seahawk shed a block, no one filled the gap, no one came even close to catching Jacobs. Nothing fancy, no tricks, just a rush up the middle behind a lead blocker.
And no one who watched this game could have been surprised how it ended.
For all the positive surprises the Seahawks have come up with in the first 10 games, this defensive collapse could be the fulcrum upon which the season tilts steeply downward.
Give up 576 yards and 40 points to a 3-7 team and everybody on the schedule is going to be drooling over a matchup with the Seahawks.
This, after all, was supposed to be the cushy part of the season. The Raiders came in reputed to be in disarray.
Jacobs, among a number other Raiders, appeared fully arrayed.
The most compelling comparison to capture the degree of Jacobs’ dominance was that his 229 rushing yards were more than Bo Jackson rolled to in 1987 against the Seahawks in the Kingdome. Jackson needed only 18 carries for those memorable 221 yards, while Jacobs had 33 carries on Sunday.
But Jacobs’ total, along with quarterback Derek Carr’s 295 passing yards and three touchdowns, added up to a total that was the third-most surrendered in Seahawks history. And there have been some notably porous defenses since 1976.
Is it a tipping point? Consider that San Francisco’s win over New Orleans moved the 49ers into first in the NFC West Division at 7-4, while the Hawks’ two straight losses leave them 6-5.
“We’ve lost two games in a row; it’s not the end of the world,” said Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith. “We’ve got six more ahead of us.”
Smith continued to play well enough for the Seahawks to win … given decent defensive support. He passed for 328 yards and a pair of touchdowns, but also tossed an interception under fairly steady defensive pressure.
The Raiders had collected a mere 13 sacks in 10 games, but brought down Smith three times and hit him 10 times. On two crucial drives late in regulation and in overtime, Raider defensive end Maxx Crosby sacked him one and a half times.
The overwhelming sentiment of the Seahawks afterward was dismay over an opportunity squandered. They took the lead 27-24 early in the third, and also slipped ahead 34-27 with 5:37 left in regulation. And when the Raiders missed a field-goal attempt on their first possession in overtime, the Hawks got the ball at their own 46.
All they had to do was move within field-goal range, but gained only 5 yards in three plays and had to punt. From their own 14, the Raiders merely handed the ball to Jacobs and watched him sprint 86 yards.
“Every aspect of our game, we didn’t do well enough,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. “That’s a game we should have won.”
Yes, they should have. They played well enough offensively. Two second-half touchdowns particularly impressed: one a function of great desire, the other great design.
On their first drive of the second half, with the ball on the Las Vegas 14, Smith handed off to Kenneth Walker, who was bottled up inside the 10. But Walker refused to go down, and nearly every Seahawks teammate rushed into the scrum (including Smith), to push the back into the end zone.
It was such an example of teamwork, of everyone being bought in, that it seemed the kind of play that would lift the entire team.
Again, with the score tied at 27s, Smith took the snap at the Vegas 18 and faked a handoff to Walker, who darted from the Smith’s right into the middle of the line, drawing the Raider linebackers with him, it allowed Travis Homer to slip out the right side of the backfield for a wide-open touchdown reception. Beautiful play. Perfect execution.
It should have been enough.
But it wasn’t, and now the Seahawks are going to see a steady holiday-season diet of rushing plays up the gut, just daring them to prove they can tackle somebody.
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