BALTIMORE – It was as thorough and deflating of a regular-season loss as the Seattle Seahawks have had in Pete Carroll’s 14 years as head coach.
A defense that prides itself on stopping the run and had been doing a good job of it most of the year, allowed 298 yards on the ground, the most in the Carroll era and fourth-most in team history.
Meanwhile, an offense that prides itself on being able to run the ball was held to just 28 yards, second-fewest in the Carroll era.
It added up to the Ravens outgaining the Seahawks 515-151 and getting 29 first downs to Seattle’s six.
And the result was a 37-3 loss that tied for the second-worst in the Carroll era behind only a 42-7 loss to the Los Angeles Rams in 2017 and could have been worse had the Ravens not knelt down to end the game at the Seattle 4.
It was three hours of futility that appeared to leave little doubt that the Seahawks are a lot further away than they hoped to being able to say they can play with the best teams in the NFL.
“It’s just a really hard, long day against a really good team,” said Carroll after Seattle fell to 5-3 while Baltimore improved to 7-2. “They took it to us.”
What Carroll said after the game wasn’t was a referendum on the future of quarterback Geno Smith.
Smith’s play reflected that of the rest of the team as he had the lowest passer rating of his Seattle career (49.3) while committing what is now two turnovers in each of his last four games – he had his sixth interception in that span and his second lost fumble.
He was able to turn in just two plays of any note – a 50-yard pass to DK Metcalf in the second quarter and a 35-yarder to Jaxon Smith-Njigba in the fourth.
Take those out, and Smith was 11-for-26 passing for just 72 yards.
Despite those paltry numbers and ominous trends, Carroll gave him a vote of confidence after the game saying the team’s issues Sunday were far bigger than just Smith.
“I don’t think this is about Geno at all,” Carroll said in response to a question about how Smith played, apparently sensing that the postgame conversation might center on Smith. “I think this is about our football team not answering the bell here. We couldn’t get it done. We came in here to slug it out, and they did a better job than we did with all of this. When they’re rushing the passer, that’s not Geno. This is not on one guy.”
About the turnovers, Carroll acknowledged that “I’m concerned about that.”
But he also absolved Smith of blame for a lost fumble on a strip sack in the second quarter, saying, “That’s a pass-rush deal.”
He appeared to give Smith the benefit of the doubt on a second-quarter interception that occurred on a play when he overthrew Tyler Lockett, the ball instead going to Geno Stone, his NFL-leading sixth pick of the year.
“The interception, he threw it up, and the guy who’s been making all the interceptions made another one,” Carroll said.
Lockett said there was miscommunication on the play, which came on a third-and-4 at Seattle’s own 32-yard-line when the score was still just 7-0.
Said Carroll of the play: “(Geno) overthrew it. Tyler didn’t think he had a chance to get the ball is all I know. But it wound up a really nice play by their guy in the end. I wish we would have contested that. I don’t know that he could or not. I don’t know how far overthrown it was. But I know he couldn’t get to it.”
And in another answer, Carroll essentially said that a change at quarterback to backup Drew Lock is not on his mind.
“That’s not the direction for us to be going,” Carroll said. “Up until this game, it took us to first place.”
As he has after every of the game lately, Smith shouldered his share of the blame.
Of the interception, he said simply, “Bad pass. It was on me.”
And of the game in general, he said, “You know, it sucks. We were looking forward to this matchup, and I just feel like we didn’t play our best football today. Obviously, we made a ton of mistakes, and there are a lot of things we need to correct, but you know, as I always say, I put those things right at my own feet and I look at myself in the mirror and say, ‘What can I do better to help my guys?’ I’m never going to shy away from it and I’m going to keep on working.”
While Smith’s blame-taking is admirable – and it’s more than fair to wonder how much more he could have done with the way the Ravens’ defensive line dominated Seattle’s offensive line – the reality is that Smith’s numbers this season are starting to pale in comparison to the 2022 season, when his play was one of the major reasons the Seahawks were regarded as one of the surprise teams in the NFL.
Smith’s passer rating is now down to 86.4, far below his 100.9 of last season. He has only two single-game passer ratings higher than what he had for the entire season a year ago.
His completion percentage is down to 65.2, below the 69.8 of last season that set a franchise record.
With nine TDs and seven picks through eight games, he’s on pace for a 19-to-15 touchdown-to-interception ratio compared to 30-to-11 in 2022 (and it’s worth remembering he maybe could have thrown another interception Sunday that maybe could have been a pick-six that was dropped by Kyle Hamilton).
Carroll insisted throughout that the offensive issues are far greater than Smith. noting that Seattle was just 1 of 12 on third down – the worst rate of the season – making it impossible to sustain drives.
He also noted the strength of Baltimore’s defense, which came into the game allowing both the fewest points per game in the NFL (15.2) and yards per play (4.2).
Seattle didn’t come close to either, getting a lone field goal by Jason Myers in the second quarter and averaging just 3.2 yards per snap.
“We have to convert on third downs, which is everybody,” Carroll said. “We got rushed today pretty good. They rushed us and mixed their stuff really well. It was hard, like they’ve been on everybody. We just have to find out ways to make first downs. I think we were 1 for 12 on third down. You can’t play offense like that and expect anything. It’s as hard as it gets.”
Even harder when the defense plays as bad as it did. The Ravens scored on four straight drives to begin the second half to turn a 17-3 halftime score into 37-3 with 8:14 left in the game.
Smith promised better days are ahead – after Carroll seemed to promise there is no question Smith will be part of them.
“You know, just as we do with a win, we get back and tell the truth on Monday,” Smith said. “Be honest about it, figure out the things that we need to do better and then correct it. It’s really nothing different than that.”