BY Steve Rudman 06:30AM 11/22/2017

Seahawks need to clean this up, but can’t

The Seahawks had 106 yards in penalties Monday — again — to become the first team in the Super Bowl era to have five consecutive games with 100+ penalty yards.

CB Byron Maxwell came off the bench for 59 snaps (95 percent) in his first game back with the  Seahawks Monday — and had a pass interference penalty. / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest

While Pete Carroll’s well-intentioned but dubious play calling, especially on the fake field goal attempt before halftime (see Thiel: Valiant Seahawks lose on Carroll’s calls), has dominated local sports talk since the Seahawks botched an opportunity to knock off the Atlanta Falcons Monday night at CenturyLink Field, another factor contributed to Seattle’s 34-31 loss.

No, not Blair Walsh coming up short on a 52-yard field goal. Even though it was less than 24 hours after former Seahawk Stephen Hauschka, now in the employ of the Buffalo Bills, extended his streak of 50+-yard makes to an NFL-record 13 in a row against San Diego.

And, no, not Carroll inexplicably burning a second-half timeout by challenging an incomplete-pass call on WR Doug Baldwin. The drop was eminently clear to three-year-old children in the streets of Sedro Woolley without need for TV review.

The factor was nine penalties. They forced the Seahawks to give up 106 yards, including 10 on the final flag, a holding call during a punt return, which back Seattle’s final drive that ended with Walsh’s inches-short miss with seven seconds left.

Seattle has been penalized 103 times in 10 games, 19 more than the No. 2 offender, the Miami Dolphins. The Seahawks have also accrued 886 penalty yards, 141 more than No. 2 Kansas City’s 744.

Put another way, the Seahawks have more penalties (103) than the Washington Redskins (56) and Carolina Panthers (45) have combined. Even network announcers, paid huge coin to emphasize the positive and promote all things on behalf of the league, are aghast at the numbers, and no longer hesitate to say so.

We knew, and have commented upon in previous posts, that trend. But significant about Monday night’s game was that the Seahawks topped 100 yards in penalties for the fifth time this season.

In the Super Bowl era, which dates to the mid-1960s, only two other franchises, including the Raiders twice, produced five games in a single season with 100+ yards in penalties, meaning that Seattle has tied the league record with six games to play.

There’s no evidence that the Seahawks won’t end up owning that record for a good century or so.

Listed in reverse chronological order:

Year Team Coach No. Skinny
2017 Seahawks Pete Carroll 5 Seattle 3-2 record in the 5 games
2015 Ravens John Harbaugh 5 Went 5-11, finished 3rd AFC North
2010 Raiders Tom Cable 5 Went 8-8 under now-SEA OL coach
2002 Raiders Bill Callahan 5 Went 11-5, won AFC West, lost SB

The Seahawks preceded Monday’s flag fest with 15 penalties for 110 yards at the New York Giants (Oct. 22); 10 for 120 vs. Houston (Oct. 29); 16 for 138 vs. Washington (Nov. 5), and 12 for 108 at Arizona (Nov. 9).

All those 100-yard penalty games occurred consecutively. Before this boggling streak, no Seattle team had been docked 100+ yards in five consecutive contests. Closest to five: The 1984 Seahawks had three games in a row of runaway crime.

But there’s more here than a franchise record.

Five in a row is the most consecutive 100-yard penalty games in the Super Bowl era. The 1984 Seahawks are tied for No. 2.

The list (Chiefs coach in 1998: Marty Schottenheimer):

Year Team Coach No. Skinny
2017 Seahawks Pete Carroll 5 Season-high 138 yards vs. Redskins
1984 Seahawks Chuck Knox 3 Went 12-4 and won a playoff game
1998 Chiefs M. Shttnhmr 3 Went 7-9, finished 4th in AFC West
2002 Raiders Bill Callahan 3 Went from 11-5 in ’02 to 4-12 in ’03
2003 Buccaneers Jon Gruden 3 Finished 7-9, missed postseason
2005 Eagles Andy Reid 3 Penalties hurt: Went 6-10, no playoffs
2010 Eagles Andy Reid 3 Penalties didn’t hurt: 10-6, won division

One-man orchestra

QB Russell Wilson didn’t produce the best statistical game of his career against the Falcons, finishing with 258 passing yards, two TDS and one pick, plus a strip sack that resulted in an Atlanta fumble-return TD.

But he had another outstanding fourth quarter. He engineered a 75-yard drive in less than a minute, without benefit of a timeout. It concluded with a TD pass to Doug Baldwin, cutting the Falcons’ lead to 34-31 with three minutes to play.

The score was Wilson’s 13th of the season in the fourth quarter. He has only one interception. Add in 912 passing yards and Wilson has a passer rating of 133.0 in the final quarter through 10 games.

In the past 25 years, 11 quarterbacks have won the NFL Most Valuable Player award (Associated Press), including Peyton Manning five times (2003, 2004, 2008, 2009, 2013), Brett Favre three times and Kurt Warner, Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers twice each.

This is how Wilson’s fourth-quarter rating compares to the best single-season fourth-quarter ratings by NFL MVPs over the last quarter of a century:

Year Quarterback Team Cmp. % Y/A TDs INTs Rate
2017 Russell Wilson Seahawks 69.00 9.1 13 1 133.0
1994 Steve Young 49ers 74.03 8.9 8 1 130.3
1999 Kurt Warner Rams 67.65 8.3 6 2 118.1
2009 Peyton Manning Colts 72.48 8.6 7 1 116.0
2015 Russell Wilson Seahawks 67.74 8.5 9 1 114.9
2011 Aaron Rodgers Packers 68.37 9.2 10 4 114.3
2007 Tom Brady Patriots 64.96 8.8 10 1 114.1
2013 Peyton Manning Broncos 65.94 8.9 14 5 112.7
2015 Tom Brady Patriots 65.43 8.4 12 2 111.3

This is not to suggest that Wilson is the best quarterback, but only to show that, so far, he is the most efficient fourth-quarter passer in the past 25 years.  And his 2015 production was nearly as impressive.


  • DJ

    Thanks Steve
    Poor Pete! I’d like to hear him explain his decision making to those kids in the streets of Sedro Wooley rather than what he’s telling the rest of us, knowing that he wouldn’t want to leave a poor impression on their young lives.
    Sheez. You’d think that the Hawks would have a better system of communicating challenge recommendations. Yes, in the past there were Baldwin catches that warranted replay and his input, but never his sole input. “Hey Coach, have someone look at it” should be as far as it goes.
    Russell is amazing, and really always has been. It’s impressive that your stats show his 2015 performance – that was a performance for the ages, but it was mostly from the pocket and seemed like it was throughout games. My dying Father-in-law, an old ball player, once said “Let Russell run”. He was right. Wouldn’t it be great if he could start games off with the same urgency? It seems that he starts off each game following the script, setting a good example for the team, then breaks from that only when desperation sets in. I say that Russell should break from the game plan early and often.

    • art thiel

      Wilson’s runs work better after the defense tires.The Seahawks still want the run to set up the pass, which means RBs before QBs in planned runs.

  • coug73

    The Hawks played hard the whole game. Penalties,weak OL play, and poor coaching decisions cost the Hawks a tight ball game. There is no reason to think penalties will go down. Less talented players are stressed to perform while undisciplined play will continue to hurt them.

    • art thiel

      Lots of veteran guys are making the pens. Scary.

  • Dale

    Wilson is great in the fourth quarter because, in emergencies, he throws off the shackles of Darrell Bevell. When will Pete realize this? Ho hum.

    • art thiel

      He can’t recognize it because it isn’t true.

    • jafabian

      Wilson doesn’t call plays. He might occasionally audible when he sees a blitz coming but he doesn’t have the freedom to call whatever he wants whenever he wants. Might make a good movie but this ain’t no movie.

  • Buggy White

    Unfortunately, Russell’s turnovers in the first half helped the Falcons get a big lead, which led to his heroics in the fourth quarter even being necessary. Without his interception and fumble the game would have been much different. Having amnesia about turnovers is one thing, but how about not making them in the first place?

    • art thiel

      I think he may have heard that before.

      The pick was his fault. He threw way behind Lockett. The strip-sack fumble was on the line. It’s remarkable how little he fumbles for the number of pocket htts he takes.

  • skip demuth

    Valiant spelled wrong

    • John M

      Yeah, should be Valium . . .

  • Andrew Mitchell

    I haven’t read a single critical story about the MNF game that also criticizes the burned timeout on the opening drive of the 2nd quarter because the play clock expired. Calling a TO to avoid a delay-of-game penalty is so accepted that nobody even questions doing something different (like taking the penalty and keeping the TO). I would argue that in certain situations the timeout is inherently more valuable than the 5 yards. This situation, as well as the failed challenge, are areas of the game that should have a protocol before the season even begins. Pete Carroll sometimes acts like he doesn’t value Timeouts at all, and the rest of us are witnesses to too many games running down the wire because time is running out. For all the employees modern NFL teams have they might consider hiring someone whose only oh is to analyze the timeclock and keep Carroll from impulsively burning out the resources he has.

    • art thiel

      All teams have protocols, and all teams occasionally screw up clock management in the heat of the moment. Bu you’re right, the TO can be more valuable than five yards.

      Those substitution mess-ups are often a function of new teammates, or other players shifted to special teams roles new to them.

      • John M

        Exactly. All those injuries cost in several ways. Of course this should also cause sideline personnel (such as coordinators) to maintain RW’s 4th quarter focus and not compliment imminent mistakes by new or backup players . . .

  • 1coolguy

    The Hawks are toast older and injured, can’t avoid penalties due to lack of mental disciple, no blocking, too much time trying to get the ball to Graham, to the detriment of getting it to Baldwin, too many idiotic off sides by Bennett and the crew, too much crappy play calling by Bevell (why is he still here? Because no other team even interviews him), so can they turn it around? Not this year – it’s too late.