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The Seahawks defense is failing to protect leads in the clutch

Seattle’s defense has had opportunities to protect leads over the past month. It’s not gone well.

NFL: NOV 30 Seahawks at Cowboys Photo by Matthew Pearce/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

For as much as the Seattle Seahawks offense has struggled through much of the season, they were great on Thursday against the Dallas Cowboys. If you were to tell me before the game that they’d score 35, I’d like my chances of an upset win. It didn’t happen, in part because the Seahawks defense blew another 4th quarter lead.

Over the last four games, the Seahawks have entered the 4th quarter with a lead three times. None of those leads was bigger than 9 points, but they were leads nevertheless. Seattle’s defense has squandered them all, and in the case of the Washington Commanders game, they blew the lead twice.

Want to know how bad the Seahawks defense has been at protecting an advantage during this ugly November stretch? These are their 4th quarter drive outcomes from winning positions over the past month.

Los Angeles Rams

Interception (16-7 SEA)
Touchdown (16-14 SEA)
Field Goal (17-16 LAR)

Washington Commanders

Touchdown (19-12 SEA to 19-19)
Touchdown (26-19 SEA to 26-26)

Dallas Cowboys

Field Goal (35-27 SEA to 35-30 SEA)
Touchdown (38-35 DAL)

Both of the Commanders touchdowns and the Dallas field goal came after the Seahawks scored, so it’s not always a case of the offense failing to move the ball.

Allowing 35 points in 7 possessions is very, very bad. No doubt there have been back-breaking penalties that have impacted half of these scoring possessions, but Seattle’s 4th quarter defense has been generally woeful during this losing run. Yes, the Seahawks offense could’ve done a lot better against the Rams considering the defense generally played well in that game, but they put up over 400 yards against the Commanders and Cowboys and the defense gave up 28 combined 4th quarter points anyway.

Over the past four games—yes, we’ll include the blowout loss to the San Francisco 49ers in this one—the Seahawks 4th quarter defense ranks:

32nd in EPA/play
32nd in success rate
32nd in dropback EPA/play (including QB scrambles)
31st in rushing EPA/play
26th in rushing success rate

Stinky. I’m being kind by leaving out the Baltimore Ravens game since the entire 2nd half was pretty much nothing but garbage time.

A Seattle defense giving up 4th quarter leads is not new territory, but the 2012 and 2015 defenses finished tops in points allowed and advanced metrics graded the Seahawks as generally elite. This year’s Seahawks defense is a bad unit that gets scarily worse as the game progresses. As I said earlier in the week, this group is too expensive to be performing at this level. I don’t know when it’ll get better.

This sums up how I feel about the Seattle Seahawks defense right now.