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12 Thoughts on what was another gut-wrenching Seahawks loss

This time around, there are zero thoughts about anything that isn’t Seahawks-specific.

One of the reasons I started 12 Thoughts was so that I could share fun (and not-so-fun) things that weren’t specifically related to the Seattle Seahawks and, by extension, their NFC West rivals.

I mention that because this will be the first 12 Thoughts article that intentionally includes zero thoughts about anything that isn’t directly related to the Seahawks.

This is also the first 12 Thoughts that I’ve authored the day after a Seahawks game (even though it will be two days by the time it hits the site).

My typical modus operandi during the season is to give myself a few days, win or lose, to digest things and let the raw emotion pass. I also tend to share my “main” thoughts via standalone articles.

This is all to say that today’s 12 Thoughts are . . . somewhat out of the norm.

Let’s dive in.


Thought No. 1

The Seahawks stumbling to a 6-6 record after starting the season 5-2 is very disappointing downright nauseating.

Week 9’s blowout loss to the Baltimore Ravens was disheartening with the defense giving up 37 points and the offense mustering only a field goal.

The one-point loss to the Los Angeles Rams in Week 11 was a gut-punch.

Seattle seemed to be the “better” team that day but settled for field goals far too often, couldn’t get a stop when they needed one, and ended up missing a 55-yard field goal that could have won the game.

The Thanksgiving loss versus the San Francisco 49ers showed just how much of a gap remains between them and the Seahawks.

Thursday’s loss to the Dallas Cowboys though . . .

That. One. Hurt.

Seattle was in control of the game through the first 3+ quarters:

  • Seattle: Touchdown, missed field goal, touchdown, touchdown, touchdown, interception, touchdown . . . 35 points
  • Dallas: Field goal, touchdown, touchdown, field goal, end of half, touchdown, turnover on downs . . . 27 points

Then the wheels fell off . . .

  • Seattle: Turnover on downs, turnover on downs, turnover on downs . . . 0 points
  • Dallas: Field goal, touchdown, field goal, victory formation . . . 14 points

As a result, the Seahawks are 1-4 over their last 5 games and are riding a 3-game losing streak heading into their rematch with the Niners in Santa Clara next week.

Not. Good.


Thought No. 2

Seattle’s current 3-game losing streak is the sixth 3-game downer the Seahawks have endured during Pete Carroll’s tenure.

The first two:

Seattle then went nine seasons (2012-2020) without ever losing more than two consecutive games.

Over the last three seasons (2021-2023), Seattle has lost 3 consecutive games FOUR times.

  • 2021: Weeks 5 to 7 and Weeks 10 to 12 (outscored by 15 points, 62-47, and 29 points, 57-28)
  • 2022: Weeks 14 to 16 (outscored by 28 points, 75-47)
  • 2023: Weeks 11 to 13 (outscored by 25 points, 89-64)

The good news is that Seattle has never lost four consecutive games under Pete Carroll.

The bad news is that this might be the last time we can make that statement given the fact that the Seahawks lost to the Niners by 18 points last week and will be double-digit underdogs when they take the field in Santa Clara on December 10th.


Thought No. 3

Dallas ran 79 offensive plays and had 33 first downs, six of which came via penalty. Seattle’s numbers were 64, 25, and 5.

We’ll revisit those numbers in Thought No. 7, but for the moment we’re going to look at the Cowboys’ first downs via penalty . . .

More specifically . . .

Four of the Cowboys’ six first downs via penalty came on their first possession of the second half:

  • 2 defensive holding calls
  • 1 illegal contact
  • 1 pass interference

There was also an offsides penalty on Boye Mafe that wiped out an interception by Quandre Diggs but that just turned 1st and 10 into 1st and 5.

That’s not good.

It’s also not where my thought is focused - well, not directly.

My thought is instead about the absolute absurdity of a team having NINE FIRST DOWNS on what is officially recorded as a 12-play drive that covered 75 yards.


Thought No. 4

Seattle didn’t lose to the Cowboys because of the zebras.

But their heavy-handed involvement in the outcome of the game is something the NFL really needs to address this offseason . . . if not sooner.

Even the winning team should be contacting the league office to ask “What the _____ was that?”

There were plenty of noteworthy social media posts about the officiating.

For example:

Or my personal favorite:

I think Al Michaels said it best though . . .

We’re gonna take the rest of the night off and let Clete Blakeman call the game.


Thought No. 5

The funny thing about that Al Michaels’ quote is that it came after a legitimate call of defensive holding against the Seahawks.

Here’s the play (replay) that ends with Al Michaels taking a shot at the officiating crew:

(Love the handle on that account!)


Thought No. 6

In the Keys to the Game section of the “David vs. Goliath” Game Preview that I wrote, Key No. 2 was:

Avoid throwing toward DaRon Bland and/or double-team Micah Parsons.

Up until their final, inexplicable, play call, Seattle’s offense did a good job of double-teaming (and triple-teaming) Micah Parsons.

They completely ignored the DaRon Bland part of that key though.

In the first half, Bland was the nearest defender on six of Geno Smith’s passes. Five of them were completions that totaled 137 yards. Two of the completions were touchdowns.

Per the broadcast crew, who shared those stats with the viewing audience, that performance was the worst first half performance for any cornerback in the league this year.

It is, of course, worth noting that DaRon Bland was the NFC Defensive Player of the Month for November (and, yes, they gave him that honor before the November 30th game).

Surprisingly, Seattle’s game plan was to target him, early and often.

And, surprisingly, it worked!

Until it didn’t . . .

Seattle Seahawks v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images

Thought No. 7

From Thought No. 3:

Dallas ran 79 offensive plays and had 33 first downs, six of which came via penalty. Seattle’s numbers were 64, 25, and 5.

The 79 to 64 imbalance inoffensive plays is a bit misleading.

With 1:30 to go in the first half, the difference was much more stark: 45 plays for Dallas vs. 18 for Seattle.

Dallas led 20-14 at that point.

Over the next 17 minutes 13 seconds, the Seahawks ran 26 plays to 13 for the Cowboys and outscored Dallas 21-7.

Over the final 14:17, the plays were basically even: 20 for Seattle, 21 for Dallas.

Unfortunately, the Cowboys scored 14 points on their 21 plays and Seattle didn’t score any.


Thought No. 8

Unsurprisingly, the difference in the number of plays led to a huge discrepancy in Time of Possession (ToP).

  • Dallas: 36:27
  • Seattle: 23:33

Normally, that big of a difference (+12:54 for Dallas) would lead to an assumption that Seattle couldn’t maintain drives.

That wasn’t really the case though.

Seattle failed to maintain their final three drives (0-for-3 on 4th down) but used 6:21 of the final 11:23 while doing so.

That means the ToP difference was even more lopsided before that.

Crunching the numbers tells us it was 17:12 vs. 31:25 over the first 48:37 which is a difference of +14:13 for the Cowboys.


Thought No. 9

Let’s dig into the ToP difference and see if we can figure out the root cause . . .

At first glance, it would be easy to blame it on the defense’s inability to stop the Cowboy’s offense, and that’s certainly part of it.

But Seattle’s offense shoulders some of the blame as well.

And it’s not the blame they usually shoulder - i.e., not being able to sustain drives.

It’s actually quite the opposite.

Seattle’s offense was ON FIRE the first three quarters.

The interception by DaRon Bland hurt, but it didn’t lead to any points for the Cowboys, and it was deep enough in Seattle’s territory that we shouldn’t assume it took away a probable scoring opportunity for the Seahawks.

Seattle missing a field goal on their second possession was even more painful but (a) Mookie already wrote about Jason Myers’ inconsistency, and (b) the referees hosed the Seahawks on that play by not resetting the play clock when they repositioned the ball (even if Clete Blakeman disagrees) so I’m going to leave that alone.

Let’s focus on the fire.

The Seahawks offense was seemingly scoring at will against the league’s No. 4 defense which had only allowed 16.8 points per game before Thursday night.

And, for the most part, Seattle was scoring QUICKLY.

Which is a large part of the why Time of Possession tilted so heavily in the Cowboys’ favor.

Seattle’s first half possessions:

  • Possession No. 1: 3 plays, 75 yards, touchdown! (1:42)
  • Possession No. 3: 7 plays, 75 yards, touchdown! (2:43)
  • Possession No. 4: 8 plays, 75 yards, touchdown! (1:26)
  • Total: 3 scores, 21 points, 5:51

__________

Dallas’s first half scoring drives:

  • Possession No. 1: 14 plays, 63 yards, field goal (5:50)
  • Possession No. 2: 5 plays, 75 yards, touchdown (2:40)
  • Possession No. 3: 11 plays, 68 yards, touchdown (4:21)
  • Possession No. 4: 16 plays, 62 yards, field goal (7:24)
  • Total: 4 scores, 20 points, 20:15

__________

Notice a difference?

I’m not complaining about the Seahawks scoring “too quickly” but . . .

Um . . .

The 14:13 advantage that Dallas had in ToP over the first 48:37 of the game . . . you’re looking at it right there.

Math: 20:15 minus 5:51 = 14:24.

__________

The Seahawks’ quick strikes weren’t limited to the first half either. Seattle’s final touchdown came on a 5-play, 70-yard drive that took only 1:47, giving them three drives of 70+ yards that consumed less than 2 minutes each.


Thought No. 10

I miss Uchenna Nwosu.

San Francisco 49ers v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Christopher Mast/Getty Images

Methinks he might have made a difference for us the last 6 weeks.

(And the next 5 . . . plus the playoffs.)


Thought No. 11

The Seahawks and Cowboys combined for exactly ZERO punts on Thursday night.

As Mookie pointed out, it’s only the sixth time in NFL history that opposing teams have given their punters the whole game off.

And it was the highest-scoring of the six punt-free games.

(Yay, history!)

Alas, Seattle and Dallas missed an opportunity to do something that’s even rarer.

Just before halftime, the Seahawks scored a touchdown. With four seconds left on the clock, Jason Myers did a squib kick that a Dallas player caught at the 21 yard line and returned to the 36.

Those 15 yards were the only return yards in the entire game.

Had Seattle been willing to let Dallas send their offense onto the field for one play (which almost certainly would have been a kneel-down) and kicked the ball through the end zone instead of doing the squib kick . . .

SIGH!

Only once has an NFL game had zero punts and zero return yards (Green Bay Packers at New Orleans Saints, 2014, Week 8)

Seattle came oh-so-close to matching that.

Alas . . .

Stupid squib kick.


Thought No. 12

If the offense we saw for the first three quarters (and the first 43 seconds of the fourth quarter) is the offense we get the rest of the season, the Seahawks will almost certainly make the playoffs.

That offense can beat the 49ers if it shows up for all four quarters.

It can beat the Philadelphia Eagles - especially now that the game has been flexed into primetime . . . Monday Night Football, baby!

And it can certainly beat the Tennessee Titans (Week 16), the Pittsburgh Steelers (Week 17), and the Arizona Cardinals (Week 18) . . . even if it takes a quarter off.

The defense still has a ways to go though.

Go Hawks!