For the first time in the Pete Carroll era, the Seattle Seahawks lost a home game in September, falling 33-27 to the Drew Brees-less New Orleans Saints in a scoreline that flatters them. Statistically, Seattle was way better than New Orleans, but the carelessness and sloppy play led to a deserved defeat.
It’s only the second time that the Saints have won at CenturyLink Field, and my sharp memory cannot help but recall the 2007 loss on Sunday Night Football to what was an 0-4 Saints squad. Even though the Saints had a prime Brees starting, he had thrown just 1 touchdown to 9 interceptions to start the year. New Orleans looked pretty damn bad, so this is a pretty comfortable win right?
The early Special Teams debacle
It wasn’t a punt return touchdown like on Sunday, but it was technically a return touchdown off of an aborted punt. Boone Stutz was signed as a replacement long snapper for Derek Rackley, and his first snap to Ryan Plackemeier was about as shitty as you can get. Pierre Thomas scooped and scored and in the blink of an eye the Saints had a shocking lead.
Tackling?! What tackling?!
I do not have the stats in front of me, but the Seahawks defense missed roughly 147 tackles on superstar running back Alvin Kamara. That screen pass touchdown he scored on was particularly awful to watch.
In 2007, Julian Peterson whiffed, Deon Grant got owned, and Reggie Bush turned this hopeless looking 3rd and 10 screen into a first down on an eventual touchdown drive to put the Saints up 14-0.
The other special teams debacle
Last Sunday, the Seahawks forced a missed field goal from Wil Lutz, but an illegal formation penalty by Al Woods gave them a new set of downs and eventually a touchdown. Absolutely killer mistake and the second ST screw-up of the day.
In 2007, down 14-0, Josh Brown was brought on to kick a 44-yard field goal to get the Seahawks on the board. The kick was blocked and the Saints scored a touchdown just a few plays later to make it 21-0.
Pass rush? What pass rush?!
Teddy Bridgewater wasn’t sacked on Sunday. Drew Brees wasn’t sacked at all by the Seahawks’ pass rush, although Brees would only be sacked 16 times all season.
#21 beaten for a touchdown
Tre Flowers, who switched jerseys from #37 to #21 didn’t diagnose the quick screen pass to Michael Thomas quickly enough, and he gave up a 4th and goal touchdown to give the Saints a 27-7 lead.
The last defensive starter to wear #21 for the Seahawks was Kelly Jennings, who was a very bad cornerback with virtually no ball skills and a frequent refusal to turn his head. If Thomas (+ 2 blockers) vs. Flowers is a mismatch, then Marques Colston vs. Kelly Jennings is a squash match that even pro wrestling would be ashamed to book. Of course Colston scored, and the Saints extended their lead to 28-7. Somehow, this was Colston’s only catch on a night when David freaking Patten had 8 grabs for 136 yards.
The “What the f—k?!” clock management and play calling from the coaching staff
I don’t need to rehash Pete Carroll’s objectively wretched handling of the clock. Mike Holmgren was no better in this department, and obviously I had the clairvoyance to tweet this out over the summer.
NFL Analytics Twitter (really... just NFL Twitter in general) would've had a field day with Mike Holmgren back in 2007. This is the ONLY time the Seahawks have ever lost a primetime game at CenturyLink Field by double digits. pic.twitter.com/6A0rI53p2h— Mookie Alexander (@mookiealexander) June 20, 2019
Holmgren also punted on 4th and 11 from the Saints’ 40 down 28-10 in the 4th quarter, which is exactly what you want to see when you’re trying to mount a comeback at home. Next possession, they waste a timeout to dial up a 4th and 3 fullback handoff to Leonard Weaver, who had dropped an easy pass the previous play.
Questions concerning the Seahawks’ starting running back
I just wrote about Chris Carson and how his ineffective, largely destructive performances this season warrant at least consideration for benching. Carson was bad even without the fumble on Sunday, going for just 53 yards on 15 carries, with his longest rush of 23 yards resulting in a New Orleans touchdown.
In 2007, Alexander followed an 11-carry, 25-yard showing in a shutout loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers with a 14-carry, 35-yard clunker that drew boos from the crowd. He had a three-game spell of 50 rushes for 138 yards, and by pure coincidence, his end-of-season yards per carry of 3.5 is identical to Carson’s current YPC through this season.
Shaun Alexander is being booed. It’s not the play calling (ed. Okay some it is the play calling), that’s heroic by Holmgren (who will retire) to take the blame, but the fans are sick of Alexander playing poorly. They’re not booing just because he’s playing poorly, but because they believe he can play better. I read it every day on Seahawks Insider: “he’s soft”, “he’s not running hard”, “he never was good”. Alexander is 30, his foot is broken--give the guy a break. He’s just not very good anymore. I wish I could join in on the ad hominem attacks; it certainly turns the game into some kind of grotesque parable. The Saints wanted it more. Seattle quit on the field. The Hawks deserved to lose. Seattle was beat by a mediocre team, because they are a mediocre team. They suffered a little bit of bad luck. They’re a little bit banged up. They were outplayed, too.
Carson is clearly nowhere near washed up Shaun, but he needs to turn things around or else he’ll fall out of favor quickly. For what it’s worth, Mike Holmgren significantly changed the Seahawks offense to be more pass-centric (Hass-centric?) and less Shaun-centric, but there isn’t a chance in hell Pete Carroll is going to do the same thing.
The respective performances of Matt Hasselbeck (27/43 for 362 yards, 2 TDs and 1 INT) and Russell Wilson (32/50 for 404 yards, 2 TDs, 2 rush TDs) weren’t similar at all, so it’s obviously not similar across the board.
Sometimes, history does find freaky ways to repeat itself. The moral of the story? Play sloppy, shitty football and you can catch an L against any team, no matter how big an underdog they may be.