Russell Wilson’s erratic passing game and an astonishing 16 penalties opened the door to the Redskins upset, made more ridiculous with the Seahawks’ air flutes.
One week after a miracle win, the Seahawks had a miracle loss. That is why teams should stay away from depending on the generosity of the football gods. The deities are a notoriously 50-50 bunch. If the Seahawks are indeed serious about perpetuating their success, they might want to rely more on knocking the crap out of the opponent.
One odd but necessary place to start is by eliminating that little celebratory flute-dance routine following touchdowns. Not saying that that goofiness influenced the outcome Sunday of one of the most dreadful losses of the Pete Carroll era in Seattle. But it’s a bad look when it takes 50 minutes to score a touchdown at home against one of the most crippled outfits in the NFL, then follow it with a tone-deaf celebration that would have embarrassed Pee Wee Herman.
Cute when you’re winning. Atrocious when you’re losing.
Throw in 16 penalties for 138 yards, and it’s not hard to conclude that the Seahawks have forgotten how it was that they were once masters of precision ruthlessness. Starting at the top with Pete Carroll, who was quick to take the fall himself.
“That was a bad day for us,” he said after the 17-14 loss to a Washington team that deployed an offensive line with guys who recently were running forklifts at Amazon fulfillment warehouses. “I totally feel responsible for that.
“We really played against ourselves all day long. It’s really important we find our way.”
After the shop made the in-season investments in newcomer veterans LT Duane Brown, DE Dwight Freeney and DT Sheldon Richardson, it’s the stone cold truth they better find their way. In a crowded field of good but not great teams, the season might be the final shot for Seattle’s core group. They borrowed against the future (draft choices) to win now.
“I’m anxious to go get this thing fixed and us turned so that we can go play against the other team instead of ourselves,” Carroll said. “It didn’t have to be, but it was.”
The biggest reason for why it was, was that teams have figured out Wilson can be pressured into a few more mistakes since the Seahawks no longer have a running game worthy of respect. The Seahawks had no offensive points for three quarters partly because Wilson chose to run sooner than later and missed more than often than usual on rollout/scramble throws.
His numbers of 24 of 45 for 297 yards and both TDs aren’t terrible, there were at least four other passes that were easily obtainable by the Redskins.
“I felt like Russell was off rhythm all day long,” Carroll said. “It just felt like he was moving a lot. Unfortunately, when he’d hit a couple of big plays and scrambles, we would have penalties that nullified those.
“It did seem like it was a little bit out of sync.”
The egregious number of penalties are a bad symptom, but the cause of the dyspepsia often is young players too eager to save the day by jumping, holding and grabbing. Then there is the the psychological error of thinking matters have turned after the spectacular nature of the win over the Houston Texans that some pundits said was the most entertaining game of the NFL season. Players were misled into believing it was something other than a single freakish win.
Some things will get better. Brown, the left tackle, was playing his first Seattle game next to a left guard, Ethan Pocic, in his first NFL season. Then after six carries, RB Eddie Lacy, who was supposed to be the guy Sunday, left with a strained groin muscle of unknown severity. But Thomas Rawls looked in nine carries (39 yards) more like the banger who was once heralded as a poor man’s Marshawn Lynch.
And it’s unlikely that Blair Walsh will again go 0-for-3 on field goals, after hitting 12 of 13 for the season entering the game.
“Those kicks were all on me,” Walsh said, passing on using the wet and sometimes windy conditions as an excuse. “You go out here and you warm up and you see what conditions are, and you prepare your best.”
But his three left hooks combined with so many drive-killing penalties that the Seahawks once again left in peril a defense that mostly was top-shelf in the injury absences of Richardson and FS Earl Thomas. For 59 minutes, they held Washington and its ace QB, Kirk Cousins, to 10 points and 154 yards. But two bombs of 39 and 38 yards against a fatigued defense opened the door to an astonishing slash from a 3-4 team decimated by injuries.
Asked to rank the win among his career highs, Redskins coach Jay Gruden said, “This is pretty high, to be honest with you. To come here and get a win in this place is a great tribute to our guys. They’re feeling great.”
Conversely, the Seahawks barely have time to feel sorry for themselves, owing to the annual wretchedness of a Thursday night game, this one in Arizona against the broken-down Cardinals.
But they will have time to consider whether they have the wherewithal to get out of their own way. The Texans and Redskins have established that the Seahawks are not only not formidable, they are eminently beatable. The Seahawks, air flutes in hand, have stood ready to help.