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Winners and Losers from Seahawks 21, Cardinals 20

The Seahawks won the game, but lost the season.

Syndication: Arizona Republic Michael Chow/The Republic / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Seattle Seahawks are done for the season. They did their part by beating the Arizona Cardinals by a score of 21-20, but by the time they pulled off the win, the Green Bay Packers had already bested the Chicago Bears to eliminate Seattle from a postseason berth. The schedule consisted of 10 teams with 10+ wins, a 9-8 Cincinnati Bengals squad that missed Joe Burrow for the home stretch of the season, and then six of the seven worst teams by record. By some distance, this was one of the toughest Seahawks schedules in recent memory. The fact that Seattle went 3-8 against teams with winning records is enough to tell you the gap between them and the actual upper echelon of the NFL. They’re capable of beating a team as good as the Detroit Lions but bad enough that they are not demonstrably superior to the Titans, Cardinals, or Commanders.

I feel apathetic. That’s what this year’s Seahawks have done to me. Did I want them to make the playoffs? Absolutely! Was I sad when it was clear they were going to miss? Not really. The individual game-winning drives and late heroics were fun to watch in the moment, but the team itself was not particularly entertaining over the course of full games. The record itself does not irk me as much as the process, which feels way too familiar.

This is the final Winners and Losers for Seahawks game coverage for the 2023 season.


Winners

Tyler Lockett

I don’t know if it’s a lock that Lockett is a Seahawk in the 2024 season, purely for contractual reasons. It’s still great to see him get a game-winning touchdown on a deep shot, something seldom seen this season compared to years past. Lockett had only two catches but for 71 yards, a TD, and the go-ahead two-point conversion. I don’t want it to be the end for a player who has been the epitome of class on and off the field. If it is, what a fitting finale for one of the great receivers in franchise history.

Will Dissly

Better late than never for the former Washington star to get his first touchdown of the season. We don’t know what the future holds for Dissly given his reduced snap count and contract situation, but I think it’s still a great achievement in itself for Dissly to have played four full-ish seasons after the catastrophic injuries he suffered at the start of his career.

Devon Witherspoon

His effort and motor is truly inspirational. Seattle somehow had 8 tackles for loss, and Witherspoon had 3 of them. He had a truly outstanding rookie season and I cannot wait to see what the second season looks like for him. Without question, he’s already the Seahawks’ best corner.

Jason Myers

Myers set a franchise record with 35 made field goals on the season, and he had no misses in the final five games. He also was perfect on his PATs. Yes, Myers had some very important missed field goals during the season, but the Seahawks also relied on him too damn much. His 42 field goals attempted led all kickers.

Kenneth Walker and Zach Charbonnet

The 1-2 combo at running back combined for 141 yards on 25 touches, with Charbonnet getting a pair of key receptions on the game-winning drive. Walker had to make the most out of his 76 yards rushing through improv, because the blocking was... inconsistent, at best. I look forward to seeing them behind a better offensive line next season.

Clutch Time Geno Smith

I don’t think Geno played particularly well, even acknowledging some of his incompletions in his 16/28 performance were clock-preserving throwaways. In fact, I was more dissatisfied with the offense than the defense given the stakes, and that 3rd quarter was wretched. There is a real discussion to be had about starting Geno next season and beyond, but what you cannot deny is that he’s performed much, much, much better with the game on the line than was expected when he became the starter.

On a few occasions, Geno has contributed to necessitating a late-game drive, but it’s not like the Seahawks didn’t that with Russell Wilson plenty of times before in his numerous game-winning drives. I felt like he ended the year on a stronger note than what we saw toward the end of 2022, and the stats since the Dallas Cowboys game prove it.

I suspect some of you would’ve rather not seen Geno lead a win for draft picks reasons, though.

Bobby Wagner

That might have been Bobby’s final game as a Seahawk (for real, this time). No, this won’t go down as one of his banner seasons, but this is a remarkable career accomplishment.

Team Discipline

0 penalties! Glad it took until deep into the season to clean up the penalties.

Julian Love

For setting the record straight on Cigar-gate, which I frankly am not bothered by. I’ve already watched a season’s worth of the Seahawks getting smoked as opposed to doing the smoking...

Losers

Clint Hurtt

Arizona had a season-high 466 yards of offense and over 200 yards rushing (albeit with some Kyler Murray scrambling aiding that total). This is the 6th time that Hurtt’s defense has allowed 200+ on the ground, which is the most of any NFL team since Hurtt’s employment.

Seattle had a “sack” on Kyler Murray when he voluntarily ran out of bounds, otherwise pressure was minimal. The Seahawks had no turnovers forced for the third straight game and finished with only 11 interceptions, tied for the 3rd fewest in team history.

Outside of the first two drives, the Seahawks defense looked unimpressive in a must-win situation. It’s hard to justify giving Hurtt another go as defensive coordinator, no matter how much he’s running Pete Carroll’s defense.

DK Metcalf

Just 1 catch for 10 yards on the day for DK, plus a minor injury in the 2nd quarter, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. He had a drop that killed the opening drive, a catch taken away due to Seattle accepting a pass interference call, and another catch taken away on a replay review in which I saw no evidence to overturn the call. Metcalf also had a blown block on a screen to Jaxon Smith-Njigba, but Geno also missed him badly on a play where he was open with space. Frustrating day for Metcalf, who finished with his 2nd fewest catches (66) but his 2nd most receiving yards (1,114) in a season.

Devin Bush

Pete Carroll’s umpteenth first-round draft bust revival project did not work out. The two TFLs look nice for Bush but he filled in for the injured Jordyn Brooks again and it was a painful viewing experience, particularly on that 4th and 1 end-around. Seattle has to assess and address the linebacker situation a lot better than they’ve managed over the years.

Riq Woolen

If he cannot provide any help as an open-space tackler or in run defense, then he’s going to lose snaps if not his starting job. Woolen had a nice play alongside Quandre Diggs to help sniff out a Kyler Murray read-option keeper, but the bad moments were emblematic of Woolen’s sophomore slump. I fault him less on that trick play touchdown (that shouldn’t have counted, by the way) since he ended up covering two people on one play, but the effort on the James Conner rushing TD was brutal. He’s a really good man coverage cornerback but the coverage busts, run support, and tackling woes are a legit concern at this point. I’m hoping he can get back on track next season.

Final Notes

  • The Green Bay Packers deserve to be in the playoffs. Their defense, maligned even more than Seattle, stepped up to the plate and held the Vikings and Bears to 19 total points with the season on the line. The draft that they just had could end up being superior to both the 2022 and 2023 Seahawks drafts. Congratulations to them and to 2022 Seahawks seventh-round pick Bo Melton, who’s carved out a nice role for himself in Green Bay.
  • No sacks allowed by the offensive line, although unlike the Dallas Cowboys game this felt like it was primarily because the Arizona pass rush is not good. This likely would not have been the case had L.J. Collier been healthy.
  • Boye Mafe didn’t get a sack (he came close!), which means the drought continues as far as Seattle having a double-digit sack player.
  • Pete Carroll’s future is TBD. I suspect that Hurtt is fired, Shane Waldron stays, and no changes need to be made on special teams. It feels like ownership may want to move on from Pete on the basis that they’ve won one playoff game in seven years and had one division title in seven years, while their top division rivals have managed Super Bowl contention with multiple starting quarterbacks. I left Pete out of this Winners/Losers column largely because I truly am unsure as to what happens next. The ramifications for Pete extend to his assistants, John Schneider, and probably Geno Smith. He may point to the genuinely tough schedule as to why he should get another season, but there is not a lot to indicate that he’s capable of leading a defensive turnaround, which in itself could make the Seahawks a playoff team.
  • There will be no Enemy Reaction for this win because it doesn’t merit one. We’ll do one if the Washington Huskies beat the Michigan Wolverines on Monday. There will also be a season-long recap Winners and Losers some time during the week, although I might break it into two parts. Thanks to everyone for reading Field Gulls this season, which is sadly another one without a playoff win. Be sure to follow our offseason coverage, because it’s going to be a hell of an offseason for this franchise.