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Cigar Thoughts, Game 12: Seahawks suck their own asses for three hours, lose to Giants

The New York Giants pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the season, taking advantage of a horrible performance by the Seattle Seahawks to win 17-12.

New York Giants v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

The Seattle Seahawks came into this game feeling great. At 8-3, in first place in the division, and very much in the hunt for the #1 seed, they looked to cash in on a spate of games against teams with losing records. They took care of business last week, and following news that the New York Giants would be without starting quarterback Daniel Jones, a favorable outcome seemed inevitable. Then they actually played the game.

Look, there’s not a whole lot to break down, here. This was an eminently winnable contest at home against a mostly bad team with a backup QB, and all Seattle did was spend the whole game farting and then vomiting on themselves from the smell. I’m not gonna spend a ton of time on the game flow because frankly, there really wasn’t one.

Seattle actually had a pretty good drive to start the game, focusing on playmakers Chris Carson and Tyler Lockett to move the ball down into scoring range. Russell Wilson came out throwing in rhythm, hitting Carson for 5 on the game’s first play and Lockett for 6 more on the next one. Then it was Carson for 11 and Lockett for 24 before handing it back to Carson for another 11 as they kept the Giants defense on their heels early.

To this point, it looked for all the world like the Seahawks were gonna treat this game like the big stack at poker player, leveraging their superior assets to just lean on a weaker player. Instead, they bogged down in the red zone and then never got unbogged. Three consecutive incompletions to Lockett, David Moore, and Jacob Hollister led to a Jason Myers field goal to make it 3-0, where it would remain until right before the half.

That’s right— an NFL game in 2020, in perfectly decent weather, went 25 straight scoreless minutes. For most of that, the Seahawks defense looked stupendous, shutting down the run and covering well enough to keep Colt McCoy and his crew in check. How in check? Here’s how New York’s first half possessions went:

~Punt
~Interception
~Punt
~Punt
~Punt

The only drive of that bunch with any promise was the second one, as the Giants squeezed 11 plays out thanks mostly to Seattle’s momentary reversion to their early-season struggles with letting guys get wide open in the midrange. Still, after forcing a 3rd down and bringing pressure with a safety blitz, they pushed McCoy into a tight throw to Evan Engram. Ryan Neal arrived at the same time the ball did, blowing up the play and knocking the ball into the air where Quandre Diggs snagged it at the 4 and returned it out to the 32.

Not that Seattle could do anything with it. In fact, here were the rest of the Seahawks first half drives:

~Punt
~Punt
~Lost fumble (Wilson mishandling a snap on 3rd & 1)
~Punt

The half wasn’t without some highlights, but nothing truly game-changing transpires. Lockett got rolled up on funny and had sit out a couple drives, funneling the passing game towards DK Metcalf. Seattle’s explosive 2nd year WR was probably their best player on offense today and, despite being shadowed by yet another elite cover man (this time James Bradberry), he still managed to haul in 3 first half catches for 51 yards and every one of them was manly as hell.

On one in particular, Metcalf ran a comeback route off a plant step that made the turf ripple for four yards in every direction. As the defenders jelly-legged through the reverberations, Metcalf caught the ball and spun up field, breaking a tackle and hurdling another defender and picking up 21. It wouldn’t lead to anything, because the Seahawks continued their streak of fucking up 4th & short (0-2 on 4th & 1 in the first half) but it was cool to see nonetheless.

On the defensive side, the excellence had many faces but was mostly spearheaded by Jamal Adams, who made plays everywhere. Blitzing, offering run support, and in coverage— Adams was making his presence known at every turn. The linebackers also had a hell of a first half, a couple miscommunications in coverage notwithstanding, as Jordyn Brooks played probably the best game of his young career. Alongside him, Bobby Wagner and KJ Wright were their usual Pro Bowl selves and collectively, they managed to throw a shutout through the game’s first 30 minutes.

The only other really noteworthy play of the first two quarters came right at the end, as the latest of Michael Dickson’s season-long pinnings gave the ball back to the Giants inside their own 10 with just 43 seconds left. Incredibly, noted timeout-hater Pete Carroll had managed to keep all of them in his back pocket and was willing to use them aggressively in this situation. The Seahawks forced a three-and-out as the Giants desperately just tried to get to the gun, but the conservation of clock stoppages forced them into one last punt from their own endzone.

Now normally, we don’t see Seattle rush the punter very often and frankly, I’m okay with that. The chances of blocking a kick are small while the risk of a drive-sustaining penalty is much higher. On this one, however, they brought the house— and it paid off. Ryan Neal knifed between two blockers and eluded the up-man, charging free and selling out to smother the kick right off the punter’s foot*. The ball caromed into the endzone where it was very nearly recovered by the ‘Hawks before ultimately tumbling out the back for a safety to make it 5-0.

*How punter’s don’t break their foot or tear their hip flexors on blocked punts will always be a mystery to me

The added benefit of the play was Seattle receiving a free kick with time to do a little more damage before the break. Instead they got a false start, an intentional grounding, and a meaningless Wilson scramble to take a Seahawksy 5-0 lead into the locker room.

The third quarter started out following the same, flaccid script as the first two did, with the two teams politely exchanging punts before the Giants got down to business. After a 3-yard dump off, Wayne Gallman took a handoff off the left side and followed two exquisite blocks into the weak side of the Seattle secondary. He’d gallop 60 yards before Adams tracked him down but even that was procedural. Two more gut-runs and 13 yards later, the Giants were in the endzone on the back of a somehow-not-retired Alfred Morris touchdown. The two-point conversion made it 8-5 and my initial thought was “well, m that should finally kick this offense into gear.” Oh you, poor insolent fool. You stupid, stupid moron. You irredeemable idiot.

Seattle’s answer to the first punch the Giants landed was to turtle up and take a further beating. The Seahawks would get a first down and actually looked like they might move the needle, but Wilson took one of the worst sacks in a career full of taking bad sacks* at the end of the third quarter. On this one, he stared down a double-covered Metcalf for 4 seconds while Freddie Swain was completely forgotten about on the right side.

*Don’t over-react to this, you neanderthals. He takes bad sacks at the cost of a billion amazing extended plays.

That miscalculation / brain-freeze doomed a promising drive and the Seahawks punted it back to New York a couple plays later, which would have been fine except the Giants just ran it straight up Seattle’s sphincter for the second consecutive drive to make it 14-5. They’d make it 17-5 after Russ forced a short throw into double coverage that turned into a pick deep in their own territory. And then Carroll for some literally unforgivable reason decided to call a timeout on NY’s 4th down before the field goal. Yuck.

Seattle finally broke the plain midway through the 4th when a defensive holding bailed them out on another 3rd & forever, and one of Russ’ throw-and-prays found Chris Carson in front of the front right pylon to make it 17-12. The play checked the box of giving us all a flicker of hope late in a subpar performance. At the time, we all knew a stop and a drive would save this abomination from the fire but that requires, you know, a stop and a drive.

Instead, the Giants strung together a few more first downs before finally punting it back to Seattle with 1:48 left. And to their credit, Seattle used a few big completions, including a huge one to Metcalf, to push the ball into New York territory before Metcalf was unable to come down with a contested deep ball and a penalty and another bad sack forced 4th & 19.

On the decisive play, Wilson spun out of some phantom pressure and in so doing, missed an open Lockett at the sticks over the middle. Instead he heaved a lob into a crowd at the 20 that was batted down and Seattle had to watch a QB that hasn’t won a game in like 26 years kneel out one of the most improbable wins of the entire NFL season.

SMOKE RINGS

~Russell Wilson was really tight today. Indecisive, rattled, and just not seeing dudes. He had a bunch of short passes that either didn’t hit his man in stride or banged off their hands due to inappropriate velocity. he never saw open receivers on a number of occasions and his Tazmanian Devil act was well-scouted by Giants defenders who kept contain on him all game long.

New York was content to run umbrella zones to eliminate deep throws and pick their spots with blitzes. Wilson never adapted, and the result was a milquetoast final line of 27-43 (62.8%) for 263 yards (6.1 Y/A) and 1 TD against an interception and a lost fumble while adding 45 yards on the ground for a Bortlesesque passer rating of 67.4.

We all have felt for a long time that Russell Wilson is an elite quarterback (he is) and maybe that he’s the best one in the entire world. After the last 7 weeks, however, I think it’s time to scale that back until we see him sustain that all-world excellence for an entire season. The MVP talk is dead and buried, and while he’ll remain on that award’s short list for the foreseeable future, the focus now has to be on simply winning games— whatever it takes.

Make no mistake— when it’s all said and done Russell Wilson will be in the Half of Fame on the back of historic production, win totals, and at least one ring but I just don’t think it’s responsible to put him in the same tier as Patrick Mahomes and Aaron Rodgers right now.

~DK Metcalf really had to carry the receiving load after Tyler Lockett got injured early. His route running has gotten sooo much better and that was really on display today. We spend so much time talking about his size and deep speed but the power with which he makes his cuts is probably the most impressive thing about his game— which is remarkable given how that was probably his weakest aspect coming out of college.

All his catches were in the second level, with Giants content to run an umbrella coverage over the top of him. The trade-off with a guy like DK, though, is that while you might not let him embarrass you deep, you’re also forcing your guys to then take him down. And while they kept him out of the endzone, every tackle came at a cost. On one in particular, Metcalf caught the pass, turned around, and stiff-armed James Bradberry into the 4th circle of Hell.

Had Seattle won this game, DK would be the headliner again, as he led the team in receiving yards with 80 on 5 catches. He came close, as he always does, to an even more impressive stat line but the fact that he is among the league’s leaders in every meaningful category while still leaving plenty on the table keeps his arrow pointing straight up. We are still talking about a player with All Time Great very much in his range of outcomes.

~Something is up with Tyler Lockett right now. He had the highest catch rate in the NFL over the last two years, dropping a grand total of 2 passes over that stretch. His drop today, albeit a rather surprising and slightly behind him bullet, was his 8th of the season and he had a fumble to boot. He led the team in targets (9) and catches (6) but only turned those opportunities into 63 yards. I mean, it was fine— and they certainly didn’t lose the game because of him— but today was a perfect opportunity for him to help out a struggling offense and he just seems off.

~Chris Carson remains important, but the team robbed him of some opportunities to really make an impact. They had three &-shorts in this game and never once gave the ball to one of the most talented runners in the game. You all know I’m a big pass-first guy but nI’m not a pass-always guy, and Seattle missed some chances to let Carson leave his mark on this one.

Carson had 65 yards on 13 carries (5.0 YPC) and another 45 and a score on 3 catches, but this could have been his game. Along with DK, he absolutely showed out with his relatively limited opportunities. I always love when the team puts the outcome in Wilson’s hand but at some point you have to be willing to admit that Russ just doesn’t have it. It’s a bummer that Carson’s imprint on the game wasn’t deeper than it was.

~The defense and special teams were awesome today. If Seattle had scored their usual 30+, we wouldn’t bat an eye at hope they played. They allowed just three scoring drives— one of which was a field goal after a turnover deep in their own territory— and caused a sufficient amount of mayhem. They recorded 2 sacks and a pick and held the Giants to just 100 total passing yards. For all of the consternation they caused us early in the season, they were really good today.

The downside was the two 3rd quarter drives where they admittedly let NY run all over them but the fact that they had to be perfect is more of a referendum on the offense and coaching than it was on the defense. Now, 190 yards on the ground is rough, and was one of the differences in the game, but 17 points and 290 yards allowed is enough to win 90+% of NFL games and I refuse to pin this loss on them.

~Jamal Adams was awesome, making plays on every level of the defense. He had a sack, tackles in the flat, good plays in coverage, meaningful run defense, and a number of chase-down tackles including on Wayne Gallman’s 60-yarder despite being lined up on the opposite side of the field. With 11 tackles including the sack, and a pass breakup, he more than earned his keep.

~Jordyn Brooks just keeps getting better. Every time the Seahawks defense stood tall, he seemed to be in the mix. He also had 11 tackles and helped break up two passes, nearly turning one into an interception. He has continually earned more playing time as the season has progressed and today played every bit as well as Bopbby Wagner and KJ Wright. I am so excited about his prospects as he continues to develop.

~Bobby Wagner had another great game today. there were a couple of spots where he appeared to be out of position on completions but that’s always tough to judge without knowing the assignments. He had 6 tackles and a huge pass breakup on a 3rd down over route. Just more excellence from the leader of a defense that has honestly had one hell of a month.

~The secondary played really well today. 100 total yards passing is usually the type of line reserve ed for snowstorms but they held a potent receiving corps in check all game long. Quanbdre Diggs had a great game, picking off a pass, breaking up two others, and recording 3 tackles but Shaquill Griffin was also excellent in coverage, as were Ugo Amadi and DJ Reed. With Tre Flowers and Quinton Dunbar on IR, the Seahawks still turned in their best coverage performance of the season. DJ Reed and Ryan Neal have been tertiary revelations this year and they both made multiple impact plays today. Again, this defense played great today, but their two bad possessions ended up costing them in light of the offense’s struggles.

~The special teams this year has been amazing. there’s no real need to dive deep into it other than to say that Jason Myers’ kicking has basically been automatic, Michael Dickson has been arguably the best punter in the NFL, they blocked a punt, and their return game was effective. Wish it mattered.

8-4. Honestly, if you offered me 8-4 at the beginning of the season I would have taken it— but that’s the baseline for what I would consider acceptable with this roster. They’re effectively tied with the Rams for first place in the division, though they currently lose the tie-breaker to them based on their head-to-head loss last month. That said, the NFC West crown is still 100% in their control as they head into the season’s final quarter.

Everything else in the NFC went against the Seahawks today, compounding their shitassery. The Saints, Packers, and Rams all won, which currently slots Seattle into the #5 seed. Now granted, that’s probably the best possible draw outside of the #1 seed, which they absolutely will not get anymore, but it presents the friendliest possible first round matchup. Make no mistake, the odds are now inevitably stacked against a deep playoff run for the ‘Hawks, but I’ll take even money against anyone who wants it that Seattle wins a rematch against any NFC East team in the first round and yes, that includes these Giants.

This season could absolutely be better, but it most certainly could be worse. At the very least, Seattle has a 98% chance of making the playoffs and what amounts to a roughly 50% chance of winning their division. We all want more, but it’s still not a terrible place to be. That said, they have one month to re-establish themselves as a real contender and I’m still betting that they do.

Today was bad— really bad— and nit’s games like these that force teams to find out who they really are in the landscape of Super Bowl shots. Their odds got a lot longer today— it’s up to them to respond. Next week is the 0-11 Jets. Here’s to that article being a lot more fun to write than this one. Cheers.

Jacson on Twitter | Cigar Thoughts Hub | Cigar Thoughts Facebook

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Extremely excited to finally uncork the Millennium Robusto from Davidoff, and if you’re noticing a theme— it’s not by accident. Davidoff cigars are quickly becoming the flagship label for this article, and it’s because they just deliver over and over again. This one is dark and, as its name would suggest robust. Super earthy and bold— a great dance partner for the Makers 46 Reserve. For the price, I would probably reach for something a bit lighter in the future but A) I’m glad I tried it and B) I give it a full-throated recommendation for anyone that appreciates a stogie with real, old school strength.

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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.