Seattle’s 17-14 debacle against Washington was easily the worst home loss of the Russell Wilson era — a ridiculous defeat to an undermanned team that the Seahawks couldn’t afford to take, not with the toughest part of their schedule about to begin.
This was just the seventh home loss in the Wilson era. But it came against a broken-down Washington offense and a defense giving up 25.7 points per game. In other words, it was completely unacceptable. Seattle could have — should have — won at least 22-17.
But, thanks to a record penalty day, three missed field goals and two interceptions, the Seahawks are just 5-3 midway through another disjointed season. They have struggled to stay above .500, with five wins against teams that are a combined 13-29. And it is about to get really hard. The winless 49ers are the only losing team in the final eight games, with the seven others a combined 32-17.
That’s not a good sign for a Seattle team that halfway through the season still has no running game and is now beating itself with record penalty counts and many other errors.
The Seahawks’ 16 penalties vs. Washington were their most in the Pete Carroll era — one off the team record set in 1984. Carroll’s undisciplined bunch committed 15 against the Giants earlier this year. Seattle is on pace for 164 penalties, which would be an NFL record.
The Seahawks led the NFL in penalties in both Super Bowl years, but they were good enough to overcome them — 6-1 in games when they committed 10 penalties. But they are 4-7-1 in such games over the past three seasons, including 2-2 this year.
Carroll said what he always says: It has been a point of emphasis. But when has that mattered? It’s the price he has paid and will continue to pay for running a loose ship.
“I totally feel responsible for that,” he said. “I don’t see anything other than that. I have to keep these guys from making penalties; I have to get it done.”
So does Blair Walsh. When the Hawks signed Walsh, the fear of many was that he might cost them a game — as he did the Vikings in that infamous playoff game vs. Seattle in January 2016. Well, he helped cost Seattle vs. Washington, with the first 0-for-3 game since Steven Hauschka in 2014 (in a 35-6 win over Arizona). Walsh missed from 44, 39 and 49 yards.
Don’t put it all on Walsh, though. Wilson had his worst game since the opener in Green Bay. He threw two interceptions and now has six in the last five games. Every offensive lineman, including star addition Duane Brown, was penalized. And Wilson had an uncharacteristically poor game when blitzed (hitting just 26 percent and throwing both picks, per ESPN Stats & Info).
The Seahawks ran for 148 yards, but Wilson accounted for 77. The tailbacks ran 18 times for 71 yards — an improvement over the previous week’s three yards, although Eddie Lacy suffered a strained groin.
Wilson, Walsh & Co. did not score through three quarters — a safety being the only points for Seattle until the fourth quarter. The only other time Wilson has not scored for three quarters was in the horrendous 6-6 tie in Arizona last year. Guess where the Seahawks play this Thursday …
It’s the start of a gantlet that goes like this: at Arizona (4-4), vs. Atlanta (4-4), at San Francisco (0-9), vs. Philadelphia (8-1), at Jacksonville (5-3), vs. L.A. Rams (6-2), at Dallas (5-3), vs. Arizona. It’s conceivable that the Seahawks win just three more games. It’s also possible — though not likely at this point — that they win six of them.
The Seahawks also started 5-3 in 2014. They won seven of the final eight to finish 12-4 and claim home field, which they used to reach the Super Bowl. The Hawks were 5-2-1 at this point last year but went just 5-3 the rest of the way; they beat Detroit at home but had to go to Atlanta for the divisional round, where the Falcons dusted them 36-20.
With Wilson, the Seahawks have been very good in the second half of the season: 31-9. They are going to need to figure out how to beat some good teams if they are going to put together another five- or six-win second half and have any chance to win the division.
Other than a false start, Duane Brown looked good in his first game at left tackle. The Hawks tried to run behind him, gaining 22 yards on six runs.
Dwight Freeney took advantage of Washington’s neophyte line, notching two sacks, two QB hits and two tackles for loss. He also nearly caused a fumble near the end zone, but Kirk Cousins was down.
Bobby Wagner, who nearly didn’t play, had a stellar game: 12 tackles, a sack for a safety, three tackles for loss, two QB hits and a deflected pass.
Jarran Reed continues to play well. He and Nazair Jones shared a sack, and Reed also had five tackles and two QB hits. He was called for roughing the passer on what looked like a perfect hit on Cousins.
Jimmy Graham had another uneven game. He caught five of eight targets for 59 yards — including a 15-yarder on the first TD drive in the fourth and a 21-yarder on the second TD drive. But his blocking/chipping was horrendous and he failed to get up for a two-point conversion after the second TD. He also had a false start. Graham had scored three TDs in the past two games but still doesn’t look like he’s playing that well overall.
On the first two-point conversion try, Darrell Bevell pulled out that Super Bowl pass again — and Wilson was picked off again. The Redskins made an entertaining effort to try to get the ball to the end zone, with a couple of laterals, but the Seahawks finally bumbled their way into bringing down the final ballcarrier. Calls like that are why some don’t like Bevell.
On the second two-point try, the Seahawks incredibly burned a timeout. Before that drive, they also wasted about 20-25 seconds before stopping the clock for a Washington punt. Basically, Carroll had some really horrible clock management at the end — time that could have helped them during their frantic last-minute rally.
In addition to Lacy (groin), the Hawks lost reserves Marcus Smith (concussion), Tre Madden (calf) and D.J. Alexander (ankle). With a short week, it could be tough for those guys to make it back. Carroll said Earl Thomas (hamstring) will be a game-time decision — it seems likely he will miss the game and get a 10-day rest for Atlanta in Week 11. Sheldon Richardson (oblique) might be able to return Thursday.
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Another observation is that Germain Ifedi committed his league-leading 10th penalty (12 flags total against him). Other GI tidbits:
* 82 penalty yards lead all non-CBs (Denver’s Ron Leary is the next-highest OL with 60 yds)
* 14.63% of team total is also highest among non-CBs
* Average of 1.25 penalties per game is by far the most in the NFL — no one else has more than 1 (Philip Rivers is at exactly 1)
* 4 are pre-snap (2nd on the team to Michael Bennett’s 5, except that MB is a good football player.) Even James Carpenter has fewer (3)
Here’s the most concerning thing about the offensive penalties: They been increasing as the season goes on (8 in the first four games; 25 in the last four). In total (offense, defense, special teams), the Hawks have a net of -232 yards against — that’s roughly three touchdown drives. Ugh.