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A ‘Point’-ed look at the Seahawks’ lost season

How a team with Super Bowl aspirations earned a 5-10 record with 2 games to play

Arizona Cardinals v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

I am not inclined to make excuses for what is, at this point, a lost season for our beloved Seattle Seahawks. Anyone that is interested in that can find what they’re looking for in this excellent article on the Seattle Times website, which was published on Monday:

What could’ve been: Here are the critical plays that led to Seahawks losses in failed 2021 season

For those who may not want to click on the link (or pay for access), here’s a quick summary: Derrick Henry’s 60-yard run, Ugo Amadi’s 3rd-down penalty against the Vikings, Russell Wilson’s broken finger against the Rams, Geno Smith’s OT fumble in Pittsburgh, Jason Myers’ pair of misses in a 3-point loss to New Orleans, Wilson’s red-zone INT when he came back too soon against Green Bay, Jamal Adams’ 3rd-down penalty against Arizona, Seattle’s failed 2-point try at Washington, RW3 underthrowing D.K. Metcalf at SoFi Stadium, and f—king Jimmy Graham.

While I mostly agree with that list, I am not, as I mentioned, inclined to make excuses for a maddeningly inconsistent non-playoff team that seems hellbent on shooting itself in the foot any time they’re presented with an opportunity to do so.

Especially in the second halves of games.

What I am inclined to do, however, is draw some comparisons between this year’s team, which currently sports a 5-10 record and is going to finish in the division cellar, and last year’s team, which finished atop the NFC West with a 12-4 record.

And f—k stats. All I care about today is points.

Score more, win more

In the simplest terms, Seattle has a 5-10 record right now because they have scored fewer points than their opponents 2 out of every 3 games this season.

Last year, that only happened 1 out of every 4 games.

Pretty simple, right?

Here are the cumulative numbers for the past 2 seasons, with the understanding that this season isn’t (technically) over yet:

Points scored

  • 2020: 459 points in 16 games (28.7 per game)
  • 2021: 306 points in 15 games (20.4 per game)
  • DIFFERENCE: Minus-8.3 points per game

Points allowed

  • 2020: 371 points in 16 games (23.2 per game)
  • 2021: 307 points in 15 games (20.5 per game)
  • DIFFERENCE: Minus-2.7 points per game

In and of itself, this sort of explains a lot, doesn’t it?

Scoring 8.3 points less per game is HUGE.

Even with the defensive improvement (in terms of points allowed), Seattle has gone from a plus-5.5 per-game margin to a minus-0.1 per-game margin. That’s a 5.6-point swing, or nearly a touchdown (minus the extra point) per game.

Dropping 5.6 points from the point differential on each game last year would have left Seattle with an 8-8 record.

This year, having an “extra” 5.6 points per game would have given Seattle 5 additional wins, leaving them with a 10-5 record right now.

Obviously it doesn’t work that way, but it is something to consider when assembling an angry horde of 12s outside Seahawks HQ after Seattle returns from their Week 18 game at Arizona.


For those that enjoy a QB controversy ...

Seattle’s offense scored 61 points in the 3 games that Geno Smith started (at Pittsburgh, vs. New Orleans, vs. Jacksonville). That is an average of 20.3 points per game which is on par with Seattle’s season overall.

However, Seattle scored 10 points against the Rams after Geno Smith took over for Russell Wilson to start the fourth quarter in Week 5 so Geno’s season average is actually 21.8 points per game (71 / 3.25 = 21.846).

With Wilson in the game, Seattle’s season average is exactly 20 points per game (235 / 11.75 = 20.000).

Note: I am not saying that Geno is a better QB than Wilson or that Seattle would have a better record right now had Geno started a few more games. I am simply providing numbers for anyone who may or may not want to make that point themselves.


It’s not JUST about how you finish

Most of you know how much I dislike the Rams - and for those that don’t, look at the initials for the pseudonym that I write under (F.T.R.). Thus, you’ll understand how much it pains me to write the following sentence:

Under Sean McVay, the Rams have won 45 consecutive games when leading at halftime.

Not only is that impressive as hell, it’s also an NFL record.

Note: The linked article is about McVay breaking the record against the Texans in Week 8 when he got #43. The Rams have added 2 games to that streak since then.

Meanwhile, here in Seattle, Pete Carroll is well known for his myriad mantras about “finishing strong” and “winning in the 4th quarter” and (so forth) and (so on) ... ad infinitum.

Which brings up a natural question: How does Seattle do with a halftime lead?

  • 2020: 11 halftime leads with a 9-2 record in those games
  • 2021: 6 halftime leads (so far) with a 3-3 record

Note: In 2020, Seattle and their opponent went into halftime with the game tied twice and the Hawks won both games. This year, the Hawks are 1-2 when tied at halftime.

And how about when the Seahawks have the lead heading into the 4th quarter?

  • 2020: 12 leads at the end of 3 with a 12-0 record in those games
  • 2021: 7 leads at the end of 3 (so far) with a 5-2 record

Note: Seattle was never in a tie game at the end of 3 quarters last year; they won 1 game they trailed in after 3 quarters and lost 1 game they led in after 3 quarters.

This year, the Seahawks have been tied after 3 quarters twice and lost both games. And they’re 0-6 when trailing at the beginning of the 4th quarter.

Interesting, no?

Now, here’s the part that really hurts ...

Seattle has not been “finishing” games

Remember how it used to feel when the Seahawks were in a 1-score game with just a few minutes left on the clock and Russell Wilson trotted onto the field?

There’s a word for that. Several of them in fact.

Confidence. Belief. Swagger.

Take your pick.

And then tell me the last time you used that word to describe the Seahawks in the aforementioned moment. I’m betting it wasn’t this year.

And yet ...

Seattle has had their chances. Among them:

Week 2, vs. Tennessee:

In their home opener, Seattle had 3 fourth-quarter possessions after Derrick Henry’s 60-yard touchdown run. They had a 7-point lead for the first two and went 3-and-out both times. On the final possession of regulation, they ran out of time. In overtime, their offensive plays were incompletion, incompletion, 12-yard sack, 47-yard punt from their own 1.

Week 3, at Minnesota:

Seattle scored 17 points in the first 19 minutes and held a 10 point lead. After that, they gained 188 yards on 6 possessions but only crossed midfield twice and got no further than the Minnesota 43.

Conversely, Minnesota finished their last 6 drives in Seattle’s end of the field while amassing 380 of their 453 yards and scored 23 unanswered points.

Week 5, vs. FTR:

Geno Smith led a 98-yard touchdown drive after Wilson left the game and the Hawks were only down 6 points with a little over 2 minutes to play.

Of course, we all know how that turned out.

Week 6, at Pittsburgh:

Seattle overcame a 14-point halftime deficit, held the Steelers to a pair of field goals after the break, and forced overtime. RW3, on IR for the first time in his career, went out to midfield, aced the coin toss, and got Seattle the ball.

Seattle ran 5 plays before punting but the defense forced a 3-and-out. With the game there for the taking, Geno Smith responded by ... coughing the ball up on the 16 yard line.

(Credit to T.J. Watt though; dude is a beast!)

Week 7, vs. New Orleans:

This game was like last year’s loss to the Giants; maybe even worse. Seattle’s first half possessions went like this:

  • 3 plays, punt
  • 2 plays, 84 yards, touchdown
  • 6 plays, punt
  • 4 plays, punt
  • 7 plays, punt
  • 2 plays, minus-9 yards, end of half

And, not to be outdone, Seattle’s second half possessions went like this:

  • 9 plays, missed field goal
  • 6 plays, punt
  • 4 plays, zero yards, field goal
  • 11 plays, missed field goal
  • 4 plays, minus-18 yards, turnover on downs

Week 10 (Game 9), at Green Bay:

Wilson’s first game back. And it showed. Yet Seattle’s defense came to play and the Seahawks were only down by a field goal (3-zip) when they faced 3rd and 10 from the Packers’ 12 midway through the 3rd quarter.

INTERCEPTION. In the end zone.

Seattle never mounted another threat ... for like, basically, the rest of the season.

Week 11, vs. Arizona:

Seattle was within 3 with 7 minutes left in the game.

The defense promptly allowed a 10-play, 67-yard drive that made it a 2-score game. Seattle’s offense gained 8 yards on their next possession and turned the ball over on downs.

Week 14, at FTR:

Tied 3-3 at halftime. Seattle went up 10-3 midway through the 3rd quarter before allowing a 6-play, 86-yard drive and an 8-play, 88-yard drive, both resulting in Cooper Kupp touchdowns.

Seattle was still only down 7 though, with almost 11 minutes left to play.

Here are Seattle’s last 3 possessions:

  • 5 plays for minus-6 yards, PUNT
  • 4 plays for 8 yards, TURNOVER ON DOWNS (that should’ve never been)
  • 6 plays for 27 yards (while trailing by 10), INTERCEPTION

Week 15, vs. Chicago:

I’m sure this one is still fresh in everyone’s mind so I won’t rehash it. Instead, I’ll just say that “bend don’t break” BROKE.

Circling back to the point(s) ...

Seattle has had their chances this year; they just haven’t gotten the job done. For a variety of reasons, both known and unknown.

But the 2nd halves of games ...

Whatever mojo the Seahawks used to have has been M.I.A. this year. Dead. AND buried.

Want proof?

Here are the first half vs. second half breakdown’s for last year’s games:

TOTALS: 227 in the first halves of games, 232 in the second halves (and overtime).

...

And here are the first half vs. second half breakdowns for this year’s games:

TOTALS: 189 points in the first halves of games, 117 in the second halves (and overtime).


Summing things up with A SINGLE POINT

Three hundred six points scored + three hundred seven points allowed.

That’s how a team that expected to compete for a championship finds itself eliminated from a playoff chase that they were never really in.