Seattle took a big step back Sunday, losing a clunker to Miami.
The Seahawks played poorly Sunday morning and lost to a recently hapless Miami Dolphins team, 24-21. We'll talk about the game with a more in-depth angle this week but let's just go over a few things that were concerning about this loss.
-- The defensive line was again manhandled, and gave up 189 yards rushing at a 6.8 yards per carry clip to the Dolphins. Reggie Bush led the way with 87 yards on 14 attempts, and Daniel Thomas busted up the gut several times to rack up 60 yards on a mere 9 totes. I'm not really sure at this point why the Seahawks seem to have lost their edge a bit in terms of stuffing teams at the LOS, but Brandon Mebane and Red Bryant aren't having the sort of impact play as they were earlier in the year and into last season. It's something I'll look at, hopefully, a little closer this week. I really don't feel like watching this game again though, to be quite honest.
-- The offensive line, for a change, couldn't get anything going for the Seahawks' run game either. Marshawn Lynch picked up 46 yards on 19 carries, a 2.4 yard per carry average. Seattle had absolutely no semblance of a run game in this one, and to be honest, the pass protection wasn't all that great either. Russell Wilson managed to finagle himself out of some sticky situations to make plays at times, but overall, it didn't seem like protection was a strong point in this one. Credit goes to the Dolphins' strong defensive line, the one unit I actually was rather worried about prior to this game, and they controlled the line of scrimmage all game long.
-- The game-changer in this one was a ticky-tack roughing the passer call on Earl Thomas, who had crashed hard on Ryan Tannehill as he ran to his right outside the pocket. Thomas closed with lightning speed and jumped to contest the pass, which was intercepted by Bobby Wagner in the endzone (would have been his 2nd interception of the game). As Thomas came down, he ran into Tannehill with his elbow or upper body, as both players were running full speed in their respective directions and Thomas had his hands up to try and deflect that pass. Thomas struck Tannehill in the helmet, in what seemed to be pretty incidental manner, and was flagged for it. This call, in my opinion, was awful, and quite possibly changed the game for good. At the time, Seattle led 14-7. Miami scored on the very next play to notch the score at 14. It was a shootout from there. I'm not blaming the loss on this one particular play -- the Seahawks defense did not show up for this one -- but regardless, it was a huge momentum shifter.
-- Miami really picked on Leroy Hill and Marcus Trufant in their passing game, and as Thomas pointed out during the game on twitter, more or less just avoided throwing to their receivers on the outside. Davone Bess racked up 129 yards on 7 receptions (9 targets). They went up the middle and in zone holes all day, and the protection up front by Miami's offensive line allowed plays like this to develop. All in all, just a poor defensive showing from the Seahawks, especially in the fourth quarter, when Seattle needed it most.
-- The silver lining is that Russell Wilson played well. Wilson finished 21 of 27 for 224 yards and 2 TD, and at one point completed 15 straight. He escaped several plays which looked to be sure sacks, and completed passes or scrambled for positive yardage. He picked up 38 yards with his legs and looked pretty poised throughout, despite the close game.
I'd say the bigger issue with the offense was a lack of production in the run game than any lack of efficiency from Wilson, and on several occasions, Pete Carroll and Darrell Bevell chose to play the field position game rather than try to convert long field goals or go for it on 4th down. Seattle punted instead of attempting field goals from 52 yards and 55 yards in the 1st half - the latter 55-yard attempt could have been a four-down territory situation too, 4th and 1 from the Dolphins 38 yard line.
Trouble with that is that when your defense can't stop the offense accross from it, the field position game is pointless. In this case, instead of going for it on 4th and 1 from the Dolphins 38 yard line, Seattle punted. Miami got the ball on their 6 yard line and drove down the field 94 yards on 8 plays for the game's first score. The fourth quarter kind of went this way too.
Here's Miami's drive chart. Seattle gave up 435 yards of offense. The fourth quarter drives tell the story.
Overall, just a really crappy game all around. Issues on defense. Trouble running the ball. Bad calls by the referees. No-calls by the referees. Just frustrating, in general, and now the Seahawks' road to the playoffs becomes a little tougher.
More this week.