BY Steve Rudman 04:39PM 10/13/2014

Seahawks suddenly facing a crucial game

If NFL history is any indication, Seattle’s game against the St. Louis Rams next Sunday looms large in their pursuit of a home field advantage in the playoffs.

DeMarco Murray ran all over the Seahawks Sunday in a 30-23 victory that dropped Seattle to 3-2. / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest

Brian Billick, the former head coach of the Baltimore Ravens and now an opiner for the NFL Network, made this point repeatedly Sunday morning: “After five weeks, you know what kind of team you are. Now you have to deal with it.” If Billick is correct, the Seahawks have officially relinquished their status as the NFL’s best team and rank among the unwashed fighting for a playoff spot. Now they’ll have to deal with that.

Numerous circumstances contributed to their 30-23 loss to the Dallas Cowboys Sunday, including the absence of center Max Unger and in-game injuries sustained by CB Byron Maxwell and LB Bobby Wagner that significantly thinned the defense.

But those setbacks, as well as the continuing absence of DBs Jeremy Lane and Tharold Simon, doesn’t negate the fact that the Seahawks were simply flogged by a better team, providing in the process a textbook example of why Super Bowl repeats are so rare.

The Seahawks did not accomplish much beyond a couple of special teams plays that kept them in the game. In conjunction with DeMarco Murray tying a 56-year-old rushing record held by Jim Brown, the Cowboys seemed to understand Seattle’s game plan better than Seattle did, particularly when Russell Wilson tried to throw screen passes, especially to Percy Harvin.

As a result, Dallas owned the line of scrimmage on both sides (see Thiel: Baldwin Says Seahawks Need To Be Real), thoroughly exposing the Seahawks, at least for one game.

So instead of improving to 4-1, as oddsmakers thought they would, and writing off the San Diego loss in Week 2 to the heat, the Seahawks fell to 3-2 with road games at St. Louis and Carolina.

While 3-2 hardly seems like a hole, it leaves scant margin for error in the ultra-competitive NFL. It means that the Seahawks will practically have to run the table in order to gain home field throughout the playoffs – if there are any.

In the Super Bowl era (since 1966), 21 teams (of 96) have started 3-2 and advanced to the Super Bowl. But only 10 of the 21 spanning nearly 50 years won it.

The importance of avoiding a 3-3 start, which the Seahawks will attempt to do Sunday at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, is this: In the Super Bowl era, only six teams started 3-3 and reached the Super Bowl, with the following results:

Year Team Start Finish SB Skinny
1980 Oakland 3-3 11-5 W 5-game win streak after 3-3
1985 New England 3-3 11-5 L 6-game winning streak after 3-3
1995 Pittsburgh 3-3 11-5 L Fell to 3-4, then 8-game win streak
1996 New England 3-3 11-5 L Went 8-2 over final 10 games
2001 New England 3-3 11-5 W Fell to 3-4, then 8-game win streak
2010 Green Bay 3-3 10-6 W Won 7 of last 10 reach playoffs

After finishing second in the NFC North, the 2010 Packers did not qualify for a playoff game at Lambeau Field, forcing Green Bay to win three road games to reach the Super Bowl. The ’10 Packers are the only one of the six listed teams to win three road playoff games and then the Super Bowl.

The 2005 Seahawks also started 3-2 and wound up securing home field throughout the playoffs en route to Super Bowl XL. But those Seahawks needed a franchise-record 11-game winning streak to do it (Seattle’s longest winning streak last year was seven).

While only six teams started 3-3 and reached the Super Bowl, 21 started 4-2 and got there with nine of the 21 winning it. So if the Seahawks fail to beat the Rams, 3-3 will practically become an abyss.

Remarkable, but forgettable

Harvin had an astonishing game Sunday for all the wrong reasons. He finished with a -1 in rushing yard on a sweep play that has worked once this season (53 yards at San Diego).

Targeted four times, Harvin caught three passes and didn’t turn any of the catches into so much as a yard. He is the first receiver in franchise history with at least three catches and no yards, breaking the mark of three catches and two yards by Sam McCullum against Kansas City Sept. 30, 1979.

Several running backs have turned three catches into minus yards, notably Chris Warren at Washington Nov. 19, 1995, when he finished with a -24. But Harvin is the first receiver to lay a goose egg.


YourThoughts

  • jafabian

    The Rams have a good defense and a solid D-line. Should be interesting to see if the running game can get back on track in this game. But the Hawks defense should be fine in this one. But I thought that going into the Cowboys game.

    • zigzags

      This one worries me. Their run-D is legit and they can pin their ears back knowing Bevell will want to redeem himself after last week and force-feed Lynch, who will be running behind a line without Unger, Miller and an injured Okung. RW3 might have to pull this one out himself, a la the way he won that game in Houston last year.

  • Marcus

    Here’s a shocker…FAKE a fly sweep. Indeed, make it a requirement that for every sweep Bevell wants to run that means you have to fake another one too. When I can call the play from the couch (and I am NOT an impressive football mind) it means you’ve become predictable. Nearly any defense in the NFL can stop most plays if they know what’s coming in advance. ;)

  • Bayview Herb

    The Hawks read too many “your the greatest” press clipping. They went out onto the field already winners, forgetting what got them there. I suspect that with this wake up call, the guys will once again be hungry. That and the opposing teams aiming at the target on the Hawk’s back, aiming special attention to the champs, plus the more rigorous schedule this year chagnes everything. No more patsies in the schedule for the champs.

  • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)

    The way AZ and now the 49ers are playing I think they are all crucial from here on out.
    Last years team relied on breaks/luck to get them a few extra Ws (Tampa and Houston). Lets hope the law of averages evens out soon. I certainly never want to see another game where 3 Tds are nullified. Maybe we will be the recipient of the majority of the breaks this weekend for a much needed win. AZ and SF need to lose too.Go Oakland and Denver this Sunday.