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The Seahawks offense undercooked the clock in overtime

NFL: Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

I like Let Russ Cook. I support Let Russ Cook if it means — as I suspect Seahawks Twitter defines it — letting Russell Wilson pass more and especially in situations where it is more advisable to pass than “establish the run.” Brian Schottenheimer did a great job this season turning the Seahawks from a team that refused to throw often on early downs to a team that throws on early downs more than anyone else in the NFL.

So it is with that preface that I declare that the Seahawks’ approach to overtime in their loss to the Arizona Cardinals was outrageous.

Seattle’s 2nd half passing offense was largely held in check. Russell Wilson was 17/26 for 138 yards, 1 TD, 2 INTs and 2 sacks taken for 16 yards lost. That’s 122 yards on 28 dropbacks (not counting scrambles), good for 4.3 NY/A, aka somewhere in the ballpark of Sam Darnold’s season average. Consider this the second game running in which the Seahawks aerial attack was figured out and heavily muted for a whole half.

And yet they kept passing. And kept passing. And not even trying to adjust to Arizona’s blitz-heavy approach until the one good screen pass they called was overturned for holding. There were 14 called runs over the final 44 minutes and change and half of them were either on the touchdown drive to go up 34-24 or the failed attempt to run out the clock in regulation. I’m sure it would’ve been better to pass on 3rd and 2 or at least do a rollout, but Seattle had pretty good short-yardage success and just happened to get stopped. It happens. I wouldn’t have been against going for it but failure essentially gifts Arizona the winning touchdown.

In overtime, Seattle dialed up 12 passes and just one botched toss to Carlos Hyde that lost six yards. One can only assume injuries may have played a role in Seattle’s decision to pretty much abandon the run even with a lead. With Chris Carson injured, the Seahawks were down to Carlos Hyde, Travis Homer, and DeeJay Dallas for the 2nd half and overtime. By the end of the game they were down to Hyde and Dallas, both of whom gave up sacks in pass protection. Hyde is apparently dealing with a sore hamstring, so you’re down to Dallas, who was trusted enough to pass block and pass catch but not enough to receive a carry.

From the standpoint of simple clock/score management, the fatal second offensive possession in OT was a complete hatchet job that may have left Arizona enough time to win the game without a turnover anyway.

With 2:42 to go after Zane Gonzalez shanked his 44-yard field goal, the Seahawks started at their own 31 with both of their timeouts while the Cardinals only had one left. Seattle needed just a field goal to win it themselves and anywhere between 30-35 yards would’ve been enough to reach the outer edge of Myers’ range. In this scenario, the Seahawks have to do at least one of two things:

1.) Get into scoring position

2.) Burn enough clock that either there’s no time left or if they do give it back to the Cardinals, there’s barely any time for them to score and they use their final timeout.

Well they did neither. This was a total hatchet job by Brian Schottenheimer and the Seahawks offense in terms of execution and clock management.

Wilson found Tyler Lockett for a first down with 2:37 left and the clock kept running. DO NOT RUN ANOTHER PLAY FROM HERE. Welp. They ran a play quickly with 2:11 and Wilson panic check-downed a dangerous throw to a covered Carlos Hyde for a four-yard loss. Now it’s the two-minute warning and it’s 2nd and 14 for no good reason.

After the two-minute warning, Wilson miraculously connected with Lockett for the 14 yards needed to move the chains and get to Arizona territory. At this point the Seahawks should have at least one running play; the clock is still Seattle’s friend and Arizona is sitting on its last timeout. Run it once, stay in bounds, and Arizona either uses its final timeout or the clock keeps going.

1st and 10 (1:21) - Incomplete deep pass to DK Metcalf. Clock stops.

2nd and 10 (1:15) - Incomplete pass to Freddie Swain. Clock stops. (Deejay Dallas gets killed on an A-gap blitz)

This is unacceptable. Any stoppage without forward movement works in Arizona’s favor.

3rd and 10 (1:13) - TOUCHDOWN TO DK METCALF oh wait David Moore held like crazy. Clock stops.

3rd and 14 (1:04) - Pain. Cardinals take over at Seattle’s 49 with :57 left and never used the timeout on defense.

Seattle only took 1:45 off the clock when there was every incentive to take off more time and not hurry anything up like that Hyde play. Instead of a probable tie, Arizona had great field position and plenty of time to kick the winner.

What made this sequence particularly maddening is that the incomplete throws effectively served as free timeouts for the Cardinals, and the Seahawks screwed themselves into potentially bad outcomes on both 3rd downs:

— Incomplete pass that stops the clock again + punt

— Completed pass that is short of the first down, in long field goal range where a miss gives Arizona great field position with an indeterminate amount of time.

— Completed pass that’s short of the first down, out of field goal range and stops the clock (out of bounds) or leads to an Arizona timeout + punt

— Sack and an Arizona timeout + punt

The best possible but less likely outcomes were conversion via penalty, making the line to gain, or a touchdown. They got the touchdown illegally and were in a tougher situation at 3rd and 14 than 3rd and 10.

Post-publish: Arizona ran it more than they passed in overtime, including three carries by backup running back Chase Edmonds after Kenyan Drake got hurt.

What’s curious to me is how Russell Wilson ran for 34 yards on a triple-option play in the 2nd quarter and had zero designed runs for the rest of the game. That really should’ve been a consideration at a time when the Seahawks’ running back group was falling apart. If they were dead set on only passing because of the injuries, then Wilson himself can just as easily win the game with his legs (especially on a night when he lead both teams in rushing).

By the way, the Seahawks had 10.28 expected points added running the ball to just 2.8 passing, no doubt affected by Wilson’s turnovers. They had a slightly better success rate on early rushing downs compared to early passing downs. The only argument against running it more was having inferior backs to Chris Carson, and even then there were only two negative rushes in the entire game. You can still Let Russ Cook without getting Russell cooked as often as he did coming out of halftime.

Now I know you might be wondering why I’m focusing on the offense’s part in blowing a game in which they scored 34 points and racked up almost 600 yards... well that’s because as well as they played, they made some terrible mistakes and left points on the field. That’s right, I’m saying they should’ve had more than 34.

But don’t worry, we’ll focus on the (lack of) defense later in the week. I just think this clock mismanagement was an overlooked screw-up on a night when Seattle screwed themselves out of a huge win against a division rival.