The Seattle Seahawks lost to the Atlanta Falcons 34-31 on Monday Night Football, instantly going behind 14-0, then 21-7, and their constant efforts to chase the game fittingly led to the comeback falling short on Blair Walsh’s missed 52-yard field goal at the end of regulation.
Pete Carroll (and the coaching staff) should be absolutely roasted for how badly this team botched several key moments of this game, and I know he was almost the entire offense on Monday night, but Russell Wilson is also partially culpable. There are five moments that stand out to me as absolutely unacceptable:
- The fake field goal. Apparently this play wasn’t as big for EPA as I thought it would be, but even if the fake had worked and Luke Willson had run it in for a touchdown, I see that as bad process with a good outcome. Seattle was going to get the ball to start the 2nd half, so why eschew 3 points to run a risky gimmick play and possibly end up with nothing? Take the points and go into the half down 24-20.
- Calling timeout on the opening drive of the 2nd half. When you’re trailing in the 2nd half, timeouts are precious and wasting them puts more strain on the defense to get stops. I believe the sideline called timeout because the play clock was running low on 3rd and 12. Seattle ran a screen pass that went nowhere and kicked a field goal. It is way better to take the delay of game than waste a timeout, and once again the ugly habit of running such a slow offense means that the Seahawks aren’t lining up until there’s below 10 seconds to snap the ball. I’m tired of that happening.
- Challenging Doug Baldwin’s extremely obvious dropped pass. Baldwin probably coerced Pete into throwing the red flag on what was so clearly a rare ADB drop on 3rd and short. This came in the 4th quarter and the Seahawks were down to one timeout, which made the comeback that much harder to pull off. Carroll has had some humdingers, but that was one of the dumbest challenges I’ve ever seen.
- Running with Eddie Lacy on the play before Baldwin’s drop. The Mike Davis injury complicates things, but I’ve long run out of patience with Eddie Lacy. He had three carries, all in short yardage, and failed twice, while barely obtaining the first down on his 3rd and 1. Shoehorning Lacy into this offense is a waste of time and you may as well just be forfeiting a down. That’s borderline stubbornness from Darrell Bevell (and I suppose Tom Cable?).
- Russell Wilson’s entire two-minute drill. It may seem harsh to criticize Wilson given that he nearly led another heroic comeback, but he also put the Seahawks behind in the first place with that awful interception. I’ll get to that on Tuesday’s Winners and Losers, and instead focus on the final possession. Seattle had 1:44 and no timeouts left, with 75 yards to work with. A field goal ties, a touchdown wins, and Wilson repeatedly threw the ball short in the middle of the field, knowing that they have no timeouts to stop the clock. Arguably the only reason Seattle got into reasonable field goal range was because Brian Poole got injured trying to tackle JD McKissic, so the Seahawks were gifted a clock stoppage at :21. Wilson has to know better than that, because the time that got chewed up meant that they didn’t have enough time to gain those extra yards to make that field goal more comfortable for Blair Walsh. This isn’t an isolated incident either, Seattle’s two-minute drills so often rely on the middle of the field, and since the deep passing game was a total non-factor tonight, Wilson willingly took clock-sapping throws that gained few yards and burned a lot of time. Not good.
In summation, the coaching staff gets the majority of the blame here (Kris Richard gets his criticisms on Tuesday, I didn’t forget about him!). I am of the opinion that while Pete Carroll can be the Seattle Seahawks head coach for however long he wants, the staff as a whole needs to be seriously reevaluated, because even when healthy, this looks like a poorly-coached and disjointed team held together primarily by amazing defensive talent and Russell Wilson. The penalties, the blown blocks, the questionable decision-making, it’s all too much for the 2017 Seahawks to overcome.
Seattle has lived on the edge in all but one game this season, and that’s against an Indianapolis Colts team that played them to an 18-18 scoreline late into the 3rd quarter. No, this is not like your previous Seahawks teams, this is a team that is ten games into the season and only has six offensive possessions with a two-score lead. They weren’t playing particularly well when healthy, and now they’re extremely banged up and have dropped consecutive home games due to sloppy play.
It’s not the end of the world that Seattle is 6-4, but it’s how they’ve gotten to 6-4 that is worrying. The odds suggest they’ll most likely make the playoffs, but it’s no guarantee given the daunting December schedule, and it’s hard to see where the Super Bowl run is coming from at this stage of the season.