The slow-starting Seahawks went down 20-7, then rallied for a 24-23 lead, only to lose on a missed Blair Walsh field goal, failing to make the playoffs for the first time since 2011.
For the first time since 2011, the Seahawks will miss the NFL playoffs, deservedly dispatched into a long off-season by dint of an entirely avoidable 26-24 loss to the Arizona Cardinals at CenturyLink Field Sunday. Coupled with Atlanta’s 22-10 victory over the Carolina Panthers, Seattle lost out on both outcomes they needed to grab the NFC’s No. 6 seed (box).
The Seahawks nearly held up their end. After trailing 21-7 in the first half, when they looked dreadful, they roared back behind a pair of Russell Wilson touchdown passes to Doug Baldwin to take a 24-23 lead in the fourth quarter. Then, two season-long narratives — inane penalties and missed field goals — came back to bite.
With 6:20 remaining and up by a point, the Seahawks forced Arizona QB Drew Stanton into an incompletion on third-and-seven from his own 17. But instead of facing fourth down, Stanton and the Cardinals caught a break when LB Bobby Wagner was flagged for hitting Stanton late.
The 15-yard penalty greased a 10-play, 62-yard, clock-chewing drive that ended with Phil Dawson’s 42-yard field goal and a 26-24 lead with 2:21 to go.
That was plenty of time for Wilson, who had completions of 23 and 21 yards to Baldwin and TE Jimmy Graham, respectively, to get into field goal position. But with 37 seconds left, Blair Walsh — again — missed a field goal (from 48 yards), denying Seattle (9-7) an opportunity to win 10 games for a sixth consecutive season.
In two ways, the end was fitting. Wagner’s penalty was Seattle’s eighth of the game that added up to 100 lost yards. By far, Seattle the NFL in penalties this season.
One of the league’s least reliable FG kickers, Walsh’s miss was his eighth of the season, most by a Seattle kicker in more than a decade. Last month against Atlanta, Walsh also missed from 52 yards with two seconds left. The Falcons’ 34-31 gave them the playoff tiebreaker over the Seahawks.
Except for Tyler Lockett’s 99-yard kickoff return touchdown in the first quarter, the Seahawks played a miserable first half on both sides. Offensively, the Seahawks netted 24 yards in the first two quarters, 13 passing and 11 rushing, and nine of the 11 by Wilson. Seattle made one first down and did not run a play in Arizona territory.
But Wilson and the Seahawks roared back, Wilson finishing 18 of 29 for 221 yards and TDs of 18 and 29 yards to Baldwin. Wilson had a 108.6 passer rating and his two TDs increased his season total to 34, which tied his career high in 2015. That also led the NFL in 2017. Wilson (3,983) narrowly missed his third consecutive 4,000-yard season.
Baldwin caught four passes on five targets for 90 yards. He passed Darrell Jackson for fourth place on Seattle’s all-time receptions list with 443 and also moved into sixth place on the TD catch list with 44, eclipsing Joey Galloway. Baldwin’s first TD catch victimized Budda Baker, the former University of Washington star.
Wilson had a two-play sequence in the fourth quarter that nearly won the game. He had a 31-yard run on an option keeper followed by a 29-yard TD to Baldwin for a 24-23 lead. The 31 rushing yards gave Wilson 36. For once, he was eclipsed in the rushing department by Mike Davis, who had 48 yards, with a long of 33.
After Seattle’s lame offensive showing in the first half, the Seahawks finished with 296 yards to Arizona’s 259. Seattle did that with 14 fewer plays.
LBK.J. Wright led Seattle with eight tackles (two solo) while CB Byron Maxwell had seven (four solo). Their one sack was DE Dion Jordan, and one interception wasby rookie CB Shaq Griffin, first of his NFL career.
After allowing Arizona 2 points in the first half, the Seahawks wound up holding the Cardinals to 3.8 yards per play and only 143 yards passing.
The Seahawks finished 4-4 at the Clink at 5-3 on the road . . . A win would have made Seattle one of nine teams in NFL history with 10 or more wins in six consecutive seasons . . . The Cardinals took the overall lead in the series, 19-18-1 . . . Arizona has won four the past five at the Clink . . . Wilson has 34 games with multiple TD passes and no picks . . . Wilson’s 19 fourth-quarter TD passes is a single-season NFL record . . . Wilson has 161 TD passes through his first six seasons, No. 3 all time behind Dan Marino’s 196 and Peyton Manning’s 167 . . . Lockett’s 99-yard kickoff return was the second of his career, following a 105-yard return against the Chicago Bears Sept. 27, 2015, and also his third return TD. Lockett tallied on a 57-yard punt return at St. Louis Sept. 13, 2015. Lockett’s TD was Seattle’s first on its first possession in 28 games . . . Since the Buffalo Bills made the playoffs for the first time since 1999, the Seattle Mariners took over the top spot in the four major pro sports for the longest playoff drought at 16 years (last postseason was 2001).