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Cigar Thoughts, Game 8: Ah sh*t, the Seahawks are 6-2

The Buffalo Bills jumped out to a 17-0 lead and rode it the rest of the way, beating the Seattle Seahawks 44-34.

Seattle Seahawks v Buffalo Bills Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images

Sometimes you just need to get your ass kicked. The Seattle Seahawks had been riding the edge of a monster wave all season long, using their high-powered offense and a spate of clutch performances to a 6-1 record, despite nearly every game coming down to the final drive. Close wins can sometimes mask the severity of your deficiencies, so maybe this is what Seattle needed to switch up their shit-ass defense. The funny thing is, the Seahawks announced a giant Pete Carroll contract extension this morning and the team rewarded that with their first truly bad game of the year.

It didn't take long for this game to get out of hand. The Bills took the opening kick and returned it across midfield to the Seattle 45 and then needed just three plays to go the rest of the way. On all three snaps, Josh Allen stood tall and unbothered as he found wide open receivers, dumping it off to Devin Singletary, then hitting Stefon Diggs on a crosser, and finally finding Isaiah McKenzie wide open on a simple over route for a 7-0 lead. A pretty ugly start for the ‘Hawks defense, and it wouldn’t get much better from there.

Normally, the unsavory scent of Seattle’s defense is covered up by the delicious smells of Russ’ cooking. Today, however, the stink was too stinky and the food was too bland to make up for it. The Seahawks went three-and-out on their first drive and booted it back to a charged up Buffalo Team. The result of the Bills’ second drive was the same as the first, but the process was more excruciating. Where the first score took just three plays to cover 45 yards, this one covered 72 yards over the course of 10 plays— not a single one of which was a designed run. In fact, the only official carry on Buffalo’s first two drives was a scramble by Allen that ended with a horse-collar tackle by LJ Collier, giving them a 1st & goal. On the following snap, Allen hit a wide-open Tyler Kroft for a 1-yard score to make it 14-0.

The Seahawks offense woke up on the next drive, using completions to DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, plus a couple nice DeeJay Dallas runs to get deep into Bills territory. But the closer the Seattle offense came, the denser the Buffalo defense got. After getting inside the 10, the Seahawks were put to a 4th & 1 from the Bills’ 5. Down two scores, they decided to go for it, which was the right call. Unfortunately, nothing materialized for Russell Wilson as he rolled to his right and with no options available, his desperation heave into a gaggle of players was easily picked off in the endzone.

The Bills would translate the first of the four turnovers they’d force into a long field goal drive, pushing their lead out to 17-0 and eliminating Seattle’s entire margin for error just 20 minutes into the game.

You never like to see a desperate, gotta-have-a-touchdown possession in the early 2nd quarter, but that’s exactly where Seattle found themselves. Down three scores and showing absolutely no indication of being able to stop the Bills offense, the Seahawks were already in big trouble. This game was like watching a bigger, stronger boxer just land shot after shot, not knocking the opponent out, but craftily working him back into a corner with heavy body punches, pinning the other fighter against the post as he unloads.

Now if there’s one quarterback capable of wiggling off the ropes without hitting the mat, it’s Wilson, and he set to work immediately:

~Wilson scramble up the middle for 4
~Swing pass to Dallas for 3
~Pass interference against Buffalo for 25
~Dallas around left end for 3
~Gorgeous lob down the left sideline to Metcalf for 41
~Dallas stuffed in the backfield for -3
~Zip over the middle to Lockett for 11, down to the 1
~Dallas stoned at the line of scrimmage for 0

That brought Seattle to yet another 4th & 1, and this time there was absolutely no more luxury for taking a field goal. It’s crazy to think about all hopes for a win resting on a play halfway through the 2nd quarter, but that’s exactly where the ‘Hawks found themselves. This time, however, Seattle came through, with Wilson taking the snap and plunging up the middle for the score. That the Seahawks ran a QB sneak, and converted, might be the craziest thing to happen in the year 2020. 17-7.

Perhaps that would be the jolt this team needed for their seemingly-inevitable comeback, but those hopes were dashed pretty immediately after the Bills offense got back not he field. This time it would take them just 5 plays, all passes again, to go 75 yards. Just calm, efficient carving from Allen and his bevy of wide-open receivers. With no defenders in sight, Josh Allen just pieces of paper out of a hat and then threw to whoever’s name was on the scrap. This time, the recipient of Buffalo’s touchdown roulette was Gabriel Davis on an easy 4-yarder. 24-7, and this gamer was all but over.

Now, Seattle would add a field goal before the half and Buffalo would miss a 62-yarder at the gun, sending the teams to the break with the visitors down by “just” two touchdowns but frankly, it didn’t even feel that close. The good news is that the Seahawks got the ball to start the second half. The bad news is that Wilson would fumble while taking a 3rd down sack, and the Bills found themselves right back in the business of kicking ass on Seattle’s 23. Incredibly, Seattle would hold the Bills to a field goal and a 27-10 deficit but they found themselves down by three scores for the third time in as many quarters.

Now, we all knew that Wilson would not go quietly and he dragged the Seahawks’ potent offense back down the field on the very next drive. After the first couple of plays gained a couple of yards, Wilson would hit David Moore on a huge 3rd down completion, then followed it up with 27 more to DK. Then it was Hollister for 13 more two plays later, followed immediately by 10 to Metcalf.

After a an 11-yarder to Jacob Hollister got Seattle to the 4, They lined up heavy right before handing it to Dallas going left. Duane Brown blew his man out of the play and DeeJay charged unscathed into the endzone to make it 27-17.

In the second half, the Seahawks defense at least made the adjustment to lose a different way. They began blitzing on almost every play— with mixed results— but they’d get home on consecutive plays on Buffalo’s next drive, forcing the Bills into their only three-and-out of the game. Seattle turned that opportunity into three more points, and just like that, it was a one-score game at 27-20. Sadly, that’s as close as they’d get.

On the ensuing Bills possession, they picked up a couple quick first downs. That’s when the myriad of Seahawks blitzes picked up momentum. After two sacks on the previous possession, they got right back after it. Jamal Adams and Jarran Reed combined for a sack, and then, after a short completion to Diggs, Ryan Neal came on a nickel rush and dragged Allen to the turf for yet another sack. As the Seattle defense celebrated, and the game began to shift on its fulcrum, a flag flew. On the back end of the play, receiver Cole Beasley knocked knees with Adams on a crossing route, drawing a crippling illegal contact penalty and keeping the drive alive. A few plays later, rookie Zack Moss was plunging in from a yard out to essentially end it.

Seattle’s next drive was Wilson’s worst, as he took consecutive sacks before getting baited into an interception by Tre’Davious White, who returned it all the way to the 3, allowing Allen to run it in on the next play. Seattle’s heartbeat was briefly revived when the Buffalo defense forgot about Moore and Wilson hit him with a remarkable 55-yard throw on the run for a TD, but any hope of that mattering was snuffed out by another Bills score, this time a field goal to push the lead out to 44-27. The Seahawks’ will to live was stubborn, as they ground their way back down the field until Wilson hit Metcalf for a late TD, but the Bills finally held the pillow over their face by recovering the onside kick to preserve the 10-point win.

SMOKE RINGS

~Russell Wilson stuffed the stat sheet again today but he couldn’t overcome the four turnovers he was responsible for. The first one, on 4th down, was more a result of not having the option to throw it away, but the others are tough. How QBs don’t fumble 10x a game when they get hit is beyond me, but the fact remains that they don’t, and Wilson’s two lost balls on sacks were devastating. And his second pick has some built-in excuses (3rd & 25, phenomenal sucker-move by White), but they were only in that position because he took consecutive sacks on the two plays prior.

He still finished with a stunning 390 yards and 2 TDs on 28/41 passing, adding a short rushing TD, but it wasn’t enough. It’s a tall order to overcome what the Bills offense did today and his performance was still impressive, but four turnovers is just way too much against any team— especially a good one like Buffalo. Even so, it’s important to note the constant duress Wilson found himself under, getting knocked down 16 times— more than any QB in the NFL in any game all year.

~DK Metcalf has approached the brink of superstardom, and deservedly so. At the receiver position, that respect invites increased challenges, including drawing the assignment of the other team’s best cover guy. This week it meant he was shadowed by Tre’Davious White, arguably the best CB in the NFL. It’s the third time he’s drawn an elite corner this year, having won his matchup against Stephon Gilmore and lost it against Patrick Peterson, but he more than held his own today.

Metcalf drew a team-high 9 targets, catching 7 of them for 108 yards and a TD. Most of that was done against White, too, though his TD came after Tre’Davious rolled his ankle late. Still, Metcalf performed like a true alpha #1 today, further cementing his place among the current game’s elite.

~Tyler Lockett was quiet again today, his fifth down game out of eight. His three big games were so humongous that his season-long numbers are still tremendous, but he has lacked the consistency we’re used to from him, and he’s officially been moved down to Seattle’s #2 option in the passing game. Lockett drew 7 targets but caught just 4 of them for 40 yards. He almost made one of the greatest catches we’ve ever seen on a hilariously impressive falling down bomb from Wilson, but his little baby hand was unable to snag the ball as he dove to the ground in the back corner of the endzone. He’s fine, but we’d all like to see him get more than 10% of the receiving yards.

~David Moore continues to pack on meaningful statistical contributions despite a minimal target share. Wilson threw his way 6 times and he rewarded them with 4 catches for 70 yards and a score. He has been a very reliable third option for Wilson this year.

~The pasty right end trio combined for 8 catches and 99 yards on 11 targets, with Jacob Hollister (5/60) leading the way. The TE position will remain a major part of this scheme, so it’s great to see them contribute like this.

~There wasn’t a whole lot to Seattle’s running game, given the game script, but DeeJay Dallas got a slight majority of what was available. The rookie got 7 carries and netted 31 yards and a score with them, adding 2 catches for 8 yards through the air. Travis Homer got 6 runs for just 16 yards, but took a screen pass 50 yards en route to 3 receptions totaling 64. Still, 119 yards on 18 touches is pretty decent in any context.

~The Seahawks defense was simply atrocious in the first half. We know how much Seattle has struggled against the pass, but they’ve actually been pretty good against the run this year. With that in mind, it’s a huge credit to the Bills that they leaned all the way in on that. They called 32 pass plays in the first half against just 2 runs, and didn’t stray far from that approach in the final two quarters either.

Josh Allen had one of the best games of his career today, completing 31 of 38 passes for 415 yards and 3 TDs, adding a touchdown on the ground and, more importantly, not turning it over a single time. That he did that despite suffering an incredible 7 sacks made his performance all the more impressive.

The Seahawks got Jamal Adams back, and added Carlos Dunlap, but despite those two combining for 4 tackles for loss including 2.5 sacks, it just didn’t matter. Bills receivers were just so wide open all game long, and Buffalo adjusted to the blitzing beautifully with some quick hitters and a couple of devastating screen plays. It just seemed that no matter what punch Seattle threw, Buffalo had a feint-and-counter ready.

Quinton Dunbar was so bad; just picked on constantly. There was talk about him trying to play through some pain and maybe that’s the case, but he was just steps out of position all day long. Dunbar was nothing short of amazing in Washington last year but we’ve seen a lot of corners struggle with adapting to Carroll’s kick-step technique and it could just be the case for Quinton as well.

He wasn’t the only one who struggled, as there seemed to one two open receivers on every pass, but he was definitely the most glaring weakness the defense had. And when one link in. the chain is that weak, it greatly diminishes the impact that other guys can have. Seven sacks from the defense is amazing (including a spectacular 2.5-sack performance from Jarran reed!), but that effect was completely drowned out by the monstrous allowances granted by the secondary. Just an absolutely deflating performance from a defense coming off their best game of the year.

Look, the Seahawks are 6-2 and, with the Cardinals loss, remain in first place in the NFC West. Depending on the outcome of tonight’s game, they might even still have the #1 seed in the NFC. Today sucked, but this season doesn’t. After the 5-0 start, we all knew that the next five would be really tough. The hope is that they’d come out of the Cardinals-49ers-Bills-Rams-Cardinals stretch at 3-2 before facing four straight bad teams, b ut they’ll have to win the next two to make that happen.

Halfway through the league schedule, the Seahawks are still in excellent position. That said, bad losses can force the kind of change that might not seem necessary otherwise, so the hope is that they can figure out a remedy for when their offense isn’t on the field.

Look, we’re halfway home and Seattle is in good shape. 99% of teams, including those who end up winning Super Bowls, suffer multi-score losses at some point during the season and if this is the only one Seattle takes, they should be just fine. I’m choosing to see this as a bad game during a good season, and that’s far preferable to the inverse. There is work to do, but the Seahawks still have more good on their side than bad. Next up are the Rams; so as always it’s onward, upward, and go ‘Hawks.

Jacson on Twitter | Cigar Thoughts Hub | Cigar Thoughts Facebook

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I’ve been hearing a lot about the Don Reynaldo line of cigars, so I was excited to finally unsheathed their Flor Fina today. This is a very bright stogie, carrying a citrusy profile that played beautifully with the airy Kavalan scotch I paired with it.

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The 2020 season of Cigar Thoughts is also proud to be sponsored by Fairhaven Floors and Brandon Nelson Partners in Bellingham, WA.