BY Art Thiel 08:32PM 12/11/2016

Thiel: A loss that rocks the Seahawks’ world

Bad as was the 38-10 beatdown in Green Bay, the consequences linger through the final three regular-season games because even big wins over weak division foes will be of little meaning.

RB Thomas Rawls had about the only good game among Seahawks offensive players with 67 yards on 12 carries. / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest file

No bad weather. No Russell Wilson injury. No missing starters on offense, or the front seven of the defense. So how to explain the Seahawks’ most egregious loss in the Pete Carroll era? Was the playbook hacked by Russians and leaked to Packers coach Mike McCarthy? Is Wilson spending too much time trying to be an NBA owner and not owning his own game? Was it cosmic payback for the epic “Fail Mary” game in 2012?

A month after beating the Patriots in New England 31-24, and a week after beating defending NFC champion Carolina 40-7, the Seahawks’ 38-10 walloping by the Packers Sunday at Lambeau Field might be the most mysterious defeat of Carroll’s tenure. Especially because it happened in December, when the Seahawks have been at their best.

Two weeks ago, they lost at Tampa Bay 14-5 when they were outslugged by the fast-improving Bucs. But following the recovery against the battered Panthers, the Seahawks bought their own hype when they had the hubris to call the loss a one-game aberration.

The nature of the Sunday’s pummeling had a degree of magnitude that will rock the season. Carroll seemed stunned.

“This is such a rare occurrence for our team,” he said. “We’ve been playing for a lot of years now and not seen a game like this.”

The Seahawks’ streak of 95 games with no loss greater than 10 points, a mark of real pride, was shattered.

“It’s a stat you don’t really want to be proud of (because it’s about losing),” he said. “But it’s a remarkable run. This was so out of character . . . we need to move on as quickly as we can.”

They might be the first team since the invention of the Thursday night game to actually want to play it, so eager are they for redemption.

“Everyone in that locker room is glad we’re playing Thursday,” he said. “Miserable night.”

The mere fact of a loss to the Packers in December is hardly a shocker — the Seahawks haven’t won in Green Bay since coach Mike Holmgren’s first return in 1999 — especially with QB Aaron Rodgers back to being the best. Despite straining his right calf on the game’s third play, a 66-yard touchdown pass to WR Davante Adams, Rodgers had as many incompletions as Wilson had interceptions — five.

But the timing screws up the Carroll calendar. Losing this bad, this late in the season with the Seahawks’ remaining schedule means that nothing of significance can be discerned the rest of the month about whether they are playoff-ready.

They play their three divisional opponents, all of whom are hot messes. Thursday’s foe, the Rams, lost 42-14 at home to Atlanta Sunday to fall to 4-9. The Christmas Eve opponent, Arizona, lost on the last play in a Miami rainstorm, 26-23, to drop to 5-7-1. The New Year’s Day foe in San Francisco, the 49ers, are 1-12 and may not even be bowl eligible after they lost 26-23 in overtime to the New York Jets.

Which is not to say that the Seahawks are locks to win any of the games, based on Sunday’s events. It’s just that beating any of them carries a so-what tag that tells Carroll and staff nothing about degree of preparedness for the real season in January.

Green Bay was the test. The Seahawks failed, because they couldn’t even make it a contest.

Culprits were many. Two stand out: Wilson and the pass rush.

Of the latter, Rodgers had so much time that he was was nearly towed for overtime parking. Despite dragging along a bum leg, Rodgers had plenty of time to pick apart the Seattle secondary, although Carroll denied that the absence of injured Pro Bowl FS Earl Thomas had anything to do with it.

“Had no impact,” said Carroll, claiming Thomas’s replacement, Steve Terrell, wasn’t a factor. “Steve didn’t have a play to make all night long.

“I’m real disappointed in rushing the passer. (Rodgers) was back there all night long. Aaron did what he does so well: He moved beautifully and made it look easy. He wasn’t running, he just moved.

“Very frustrating to watch him throw so easily.”

Only after the outcome was decided did the Seahawks get a sack — their first in three games. After missing a month following arthroscopic knee surgery, DE Michael Bennett isn’t his usual disruptive self, and his rush partner, Cliff Avril, was bottled up artfully.  The Seahawks risked few blitzes, perhaps partly due to the absence of Thomas.

Wilson, meanwhile, was uncharacteristically off, in a kind of bad-Felix-Hernandez sort of way. He lost command of his pitches, wildly over throwing WR Doug Baldwin and TE Jimmy Graham on Seattle’s first two possessions. Both receivers were so far past defenders that touchdowns seemed likely.

Even on short routes, he was often off. Then his receivers dropped four catchable balls, including two that deflected into Packers interceptions.

Wilson made a generic statement that the loss “is on me,” but was more vague and non-specific than usual. Carroll was even asked of Wilson had been hurt, to which he said no.

“That would’ve been easy, huh?” he said sardonically.

No, there will be nothing easy in unwinding this one, because failures were so broad a week after they were so few. As important, there is no time for a look-back because the work week allows almost no practice time. And as bad as the Rams looked Sunday, they beat Seattle 9-3 in week 2 after sweeping the series a year ago.

Rams coach Jeff Fisher may have become a joke in Los Angeles and across the NFL, but being king of Seattle might do wonders for his employment outlook.

Even if the Seahawks put up another 40-7 win, it likely means as much as the first 40-7 win.


YourThoughts

  • 1coolguy

    You covered it Art. The time Rodgers had all game was remarkable, especially since he never ran due to his bad wheels. The passes RW missed were so unlike him it was as though another guy was out there. When Baldwin, of all people, let the pass through his hands and hit his helmet for an interception, I looked out t o confirm whether it was a full moon. We were behind so quickly, so early, it pulled us away from the ball control running game that is Pete’s plan.
    I will say, contradicting Pete, that Thomas would have at least been in the picture on the 66 yard TD Rodgers threw. Our db, (Lane or Shead) was close, yet Rodger’s pass was perfect, in stride and no db could have put a hand on it, unless a safety from midfield, which of course means Thomas, the human missile.

    • art thiel

      We can’t know how Earl would have played that play. Of course, Pete will never throw Terrell under the bus, but that was 1-on-1 defense from the start on the edge. Just got beat.

      • SeaRaays

        Unless ET could throw the ball better then RW …we still lose the game …but trade a couple of the GB TDs for field goals.

  • woofer

    “Was it cosmic payback for the epic “Fail Mary” game in 2012?”

    I’m going with this one.

    Actually, it’s not much of a mystery. The team goes as Russell goes, and Russell had a horrible day. There is no Plan B. And he was awful from the get-go, a situation exacerbated by the minimal pass protection he gets.

    The game was basically over before the first quarter expired — interceptions and missed targets on easy touchdown passes. Everybody continued to work hard, but the seed of doubt was planted. Winning is contagious, and so is failure. That interception after the ball bounced lamely off Baldwin’s face mask said it all; things like that don’t happen in a real game.

    Jake Browning had a comparably bad game against Colorado, but it didn’t matter because the defense was overwhelming and the run game solid. The Hawks’ defense without Earl is still good but it is no longer great. The Seahawks are a delicate balance which only hums when Wilson is doing his amazing ballet dance. On days when he becomes merely human, the rest of the team isn’t good enough to pick up the slack.

    • DJ

      Nice Take – I agree especially with the Seahawks being a “delicate balance”. I’m still wondering how Russ could be so far off of his game – the player who set the bar for preparedness, played college ball in the Wisconsin c-c-c-cold, and is noted for his throwing accuracy on the move, was feet off target on some of his throws. Just shocking. Hand it to the Packers – they found the Seahawks’ buttons, and pushed them quite effectively

      • DJ

        ….and Rogers played to his splendid best. Gawd that guy can throw a nice ball!

        • art thiel

          He’s amazing in his ability to move without really running.

          • DJ

            Reminds me of Roger Federer………smooth mover

      • art thiel

        Obviously, defense was hurt by short fields, but it broke down steadily in red zone. That wasn’t Russell.

        • DJ

          On a whole, we still have a young team. Wonder to what level that plays in these ups and downs. To further elaborate, a couple years ago their strengths were targeted by the rest of the league because of their success as world champions. Seems like that was when they started their slow starts. Maybe part of that was coming up with counters to those adjustments – which were upsetting their delicate balance, throwing them off track. Pile on top of that their relative immaturity – these are all new experiences to them. In summary, regardless of their talent, preparation and the system that they’re playing in, what we may be seeing a young team still trying to grow up, learning how to deal with adversity. Their now annual mid-season “finding themselves” (playing for one another, etc.) either didn’t take, or hasn’t happened yet. Seems like their only chance for success in the post season is for this game to be “The” slap in the face that they needed. Go Hawks!

          • art thiel

            Not a young team. Many seasoned vets, with a very young O-line, which allowed too much harassment of Wilson. And it’s hard to believe 3 pts vs. TB wasn’t a sufficient slap.

          • DJ

            No kidding!

        • SeaRaays

          Yet that is the true O line! On grass they stink the worst. I just can’t believe the D line had such a terrible rush. We better have some blitz packages against the Rams. Why not blitz a QB with bad wheels … Rodgers needed to get uncomfortable back there. He might of left the game early. With out being touched he was barely able to move in the 2nd half.
          PC should be ashamed with his game plan.

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    • Comrade Suge

      …and you forgot to add how Colorado is vastly overrated.

      • art thiel

        That too.

      • SeaRaays

        Colorado is deadly at home. They have a great home field advantage.

    • art thiel

      You’ve diagnosed a symptom, not a cause. Obviously Wilson had a bad game, but why now when there were no indicators, especially after 40-7 over CAR?

      • antirepug3

        Which brings up the somewhat philosophical sports question…Were the Seahawks that good or the Panthers that bad…?

        • art thiel

          Which is the outlier game: TB, CAR or GB?

          • antirepug3

            So many questions, so few answers if any…makes it interesting anyway.

      • SeaRaays

        Even during the Carolina game RW had trouble connecting in the red zone. This has been his kryptonite.

  • PokeyPuffy

    This had a different flavor than their other low scoring games where the offense was completely absent. more total yards than GB, and with some decent sustained drives. Just a bit of bad luck combined with being off on a few passes, and it snowballed on them. Can’t always count on accurate passing when on the road, but the picks were killer

    • art thiel

      Wilson has been uncanny with deep balls most of his career. One of the game’s best at plus-20-yard passes. Don’t know why he overthrew on Sunday.

      • MrPrimeMinister

        He throws a beautiful ball. But some of his recent throwing decisions indicate some kind of regression going on.

      • SeaRaays

        His touch has been a bit off all season. At times he gets in his zone. Yet it never happened Sunday. He looked to amped up on adrenaline.

  • Illuminati Doomsday

    Reverse deflategate. The way the balls bounced off Seahawk hands, they must have been overinflated. Continuing… they must have the wrong gloves. There is no stick to the ball when when it hits them in the hands. Where is the Fred Belitnikoff stickum? They need a new equipment manager and I volunteer. First job: buy a 50 gallon drum of stickum.

    • art thiel

      Really, roofing tar works better. I’ve recently had experience with it.

      • SeaRaays

        Solving a leak or making a bigger one?

  • ll9956

    This performance was beyond abysmal. In addition to the “culprits” that you identified, Art, I nominate once again the O-line. I remember seeing Fant completely whiff on pass protection. I think it led to one of the three sacks inflicted on Russell. On the first GB TD, I screamed at the TV, “Earl Thomas wouldn’t have let that happen.” He was sorely missed in this game, regardless of what PC claims.

    I can’t help but wonder if most of the players will volunteer to give up their usual day off this week–and I don’t know whether that would be a good idea or not. I sure hope a different team shows up on Thursday.

    • Comrade Suge

      Why should they give up their off day?

      • ll9956

        Because they don’t deserve it.

        • art thiel

          Comments like that make me want fans to experience an NFL tackle.

    • art thiel

      Tde NFL forces them to give up a day off. Hope Thursday night games get thrown on the pile with leather helmets and smoking in the locker room.

      • cocktaildave

        I’ve been thinking about the TNF football problem.
        My solution is add another bye week. Every team gets two byes and only schedule Thurs game after a bye. Last bye is three weeks before the end of the season so no TNF last two weeks of the year. Bonus the season is one week longer! Collage ball has several byes a season and works fine. Players will probably like the extra rest mid-season too.

  • On offense, special teams, and defense, the Seahawks could have sucked a chain-link fence down – a bowling ball flat – a truck tire inside out. There was not a single act of redemption. No bright spots. There were a couple of good plays – worth mentioning only for their resemblance to pissing into a tsunami. The only bright spot in the day is that the rest of the NFC West was pathetic, preserving our standing as cream of the crap.

    • art thiel

      Well, you’re strict this morning.

      • Just a little grumpy is all. Yesterday was only salvaged by the Dallas loss to the Giants – a minor consolation. On balance, I had a nice Joe 10 Apocalypse IPA after the game that improved my mood somewhat.

  • Effzee

    This is the RWIII the rest of the league thought he was when they said he was too short. We’ve seen it before, but they’ve usually pulled a win out at the end somehow. The ‘Hawks have relied on Actual Football Magic too much. It’s hard to master the moment perpetually.

    • Comrade Suge

      So he has a bad game (despite having way more terrific games) and suddenly he’s mortal?

    • art thiel

      There is no such thing as football magic, nor is the too-short theory come alive again after being deader than dead.

  • John M

    Mysterious maybe, Art, but you named the most glaring – Wilson and pass rush. I couldn’t watch the last few minutes. It looked like one team practiced and watched film and the other team just flew in from a two day bash at Snoqualmie Falls. At this point in the season you can’t say ‘just another anomaly’ . . .

    • Comrade Suge

      Why not? This is the same team that went into New England and won.

      • art thiel

        Because it’s two bad games in three later in the season.

      • Kevin Lynch

        The Seahawks did not put away the New England game and Brady came back to a first and goal at the one. If New England had not run into a stacked line three times in a row they likely would have won the game.

        • Comrade Suge

          “Not run into a stacked line three times in a row they likely would have won the game.” I guess these mediocre teams must stop teams like the Patriots at the goal line all the time.

          • Kevin Lynch

            In Brady’s career, nobody stops him first and goal on the one yard line with the game on the line, no matter how good the defense. So it’s a great achievement for the Hawks but a fluke nonetheless. Accordingly, the Seahawks loss in the Super Bowl was also a fluke. Just a weird result. Odds are probably 95% against either one happening.

          • Comrade Suge

            It’s statistically difficult to do but hardly a fluke. The Seahawks made plays, a fluke would have been a fumble on a handoff or some unforced error where the Patriots gave it away.

          • SeaRaays

            The Seahawks are not the best in the red zone. Most of RW throwing TDs comes longer throws before the red zone.

    • art thiel

      Again, you’re telling me symptoms, not causes. I don’t know why Wilson and the offense were off for most of the game.

  • antirepug3

    Over Thanksgiving dinner I told one of my sons-in-law that there are six games left and every one of them is a ‘trap’ game and so far, two out of three is proving that and there are three more like games to go…wouldn’t surprise me to see them go home after the first round of the playoffs.

    • art thiel

      No way was Green Bay a trap game, although it did mean a whole lot more to the Packers than the Seahawks.

      • antirepug3

        It did mean more to the Packers than the Seahawks…that is what made it a ‘trap’ game for the Seahawks. They went to GB to play a .500 team and their high octane emotional energy was left in Seattle.

  • Kevin Lynch

    Nice summation, Art, and really enjoyable blog entries today, from everyone. My two cents is that they just are not a very good road team, 2-4-1 this year, and have not really been in their 41 year history. They had one season at an excellent 6-2 road record, 2013, when they won the title. They have had four other seasons by my count when they finished pretty good at 5-3. And I don’t believe they’ve had any other wining seasons on the road. That’s five out of forty-one. Plus their post-season road record is not good. The cold was a factor yesterday, you could tell. As it was in Minnesota last year. I believe they’ll be fine for the next four games, all of which will be at home. The fifth game, which may or may not be on the road, is anyone’s guess.

    • art thiel

      Road outcomes are a symptom, not a cause. They have been a good road team throughout the Wilson era, even if there are losses. Compare to the rest of the league. Cold was a minimal factor in ballhandling, but that’s it.

      • Kevin Lynch

        Good road team in Wilson era? Throw out 2013 and they are roughly .500 over the other four years. Poor starts have been the culprits. 2012- lost 5 of first 6 road games. 2014 – lost 3 of first 5. 2015 – lost first 3. 2016 – 2-4-1 on the road this year. A good road team is Dallas going 6-0 or the Raiders and Giants in past years taking a wild card birth all the way to a winning Super Bowl result. Those are good road teams.

        • SeaRaays

          In the NFL .500 is a good road team. Especially for the west coast teams to go East. Now it is not that comparable to base this season with others. This year the Seahawks have been terrible on grass fields offensively. That is something that is happening now.

  • Matt712

    Wilson’s poor performance and the absence of a pass rush are more than just the culprits of this game; they are now officially trends of the past three games.

    A hallmark of Russell Wilson’s play is that he protects the football – he avoids making careless/reckless throws. That has clearly not been the case for three games now. He appears to be rushing his reads (a clear sign of dwindling confidence in his protection) and then forcing throws to bad targets. (And speaking of bad targets, Jermaine Kearse should be just about out of chances this year.)

    As for Seattle’s pass rush: I think it’s safe to say it’s been figured out by the rest of the league. One of the more disappointing things about the Seahawks’ recent losses appears to be the lack of in-game adjustments by coordinators when things aren’t working. Easier said than done, I know. But, I’d much rather see a hobbled Aaron Rogers beat an all out blitz than sit back in a clean pocket wearing a spotless uniform.

    These two problems may be “out of character” but they are no longer just aberrations.

    • art thiel

      Good point about Wilson’s apparent yips with his protection.

      Rodgers is a damn hard guy to blitz. He knows so many workarounds for every rush package. What was needed was to get ahead of GB early and force Rodgers to throw more to improve chance he’ll make even one mistake.

    • Comrade Suge

      Packer receivers were wide open without a blitz, can’t imagine how open they would have been without linebackers dropping into coverage.

  • seattlean

    Unfortunately, their Get Right game is against the Rams. I have never felt better about the Seahawks after these games; even when they win.

    Carroll/Fisher era matchups between these two teams are routinely among the worst examples of football the NFL has to offer. They should not be viewed by Ram and Seahawk fans, much less an unsuspecting nation.

    • art thiel

      Actually, I’m eager to see this one. Fisher knows he can beat these guys, and so do his players.

  • MrPrimeMinister

    Sure, they’ll make the playoffs. They might even win a post-season game. But make no doubt, to use every cliché in the book, the hawks superbowl window door was slammed shut, latched, bolted, with the key thrown away, on the frozen tundra of lambeau on sunday 12/11/16. Who knows when we might see another epoch.

    • art thiel

      Yes. You did use almost every cliche. You did avoid “throw the record books out the window.”

      • MrPrimeMinister

        When you all said Tampa was an aberration, toss it, forget it, I believed them. Nope, they are who they are.

        • Comrade Suge

          Yup, the Seahawks are a first place team battling for a bye in the playoffs.

          • MrPrimeMinister

            I said they might win a playoff game.

  • Paul Harmening

    Somebody let Charlie Whitehurst and John Kitna through the gate and they took over #3’s body. Hopefully, Wilson let them on the playing field when he walked out the gate.

    • art thiel

      Invasion of the body snatchers? Well, it is a time when the world is full of conspiracy theories.

      • Paul Harmening

        Actually, I had a more plausible theory about Wilson, but you might have deleted it if not worded properly, and anyway, I like the guy too much to have posted it…But it had something to do with weakening of the legs (and mind distraction). There was a scene in the first Rocky movie that also mentioned the subject. And, it’s all brevity anyway, and humor seems the best way to go about it all.

        • Comrade Suge

          He’s been married for the whole season. Your theory doesn’t hold water.

          • Paul Harmening

            You didn’t read my last sentence. Of course it doesn’t.

          • Comrade Suge

            My apologies, just read it.

  • WestCoastBias79

    When looking at consistent success in the NFL, the Patriots are the benchmark, and the Patriots usually have a clunker a season, then hate feast themselves on their terrible division to get themselves right. The Seahawks were kind of due a clunker. Fortunately, even though this loss is late, the Seahawks have a terrible division to get right against, and the NFC this year is not good. This may be silly to say after yesterday, but the Seahawks (when Russell Wilson isn’t being Stan Gelbaugh) might be the most complete team in the NFC this year. The Cowboys have a suspect D, the Lions are suspect, the Giants are Odell Beckham and luck, the Falcons have a suspect D, the Packers probably won’t make the playoffs, and the rest is a vast wasteland of mediocrity.

    That said, if the Seahawks lose to the Rams, I’ll start panicking.

    And on cue I just saw that the Rams fired Jeff Fisher, I was looking forward to the Seahawks giving him the loss to beat the record of most losses ever. I feel robbed!

    • MrPrimeMinister

      Pete wants to go back home.

      • art thiel

        “Home” is the Bay Area.

    • art thiel

      And now the Seahawks get an opponent that’s all riled up.

      • SeaRaays

        Yes teams sometimes turn it around after a coach change.

  • 50% of Seahawks are rookies….sorry, chemistry is not there. Takes time.

  • John M

    I’m reading all this stuff on Wilson as if he owns the whole mess, but it was a series of critical mistakes by the whole offense, including 2 passes that became interceptions because they weren’t caught by usually reliable guys. Just a hard to understand game given the knowables . . .