By Danny O’Neil
Well, there it was.
First one Russell Wilson has really had since he became the Seahawks’ starter, which says as much about the success he has had in Seattle as it does about his struggles against the Cardinals on Sunday.
He passed for 108 yards, his fewest as a pro. He completed 40 percent of his passes, the second-lowest in his two seasons with the Seahawks. The ultimate measurement came on the scoreboard as the Seahawks lost at home for the first time since he came to Seattle, and while Wilson by no means lost this game for his team, he didn’t do nearly enough to win it, either.
“Offensively, we were just off by a hair for whatever reason,” Wilson said.
Well, it was a little more than that. That was true from Seattle’s first possession when Wilson was nearly picked off while throwing on the run, across his body and into double coverage on a third-down play. The most surprising thing about that pass – well, other than the fact Wilson threw it – was that Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson didn’t intercept it after getting both hands on the ball.
Wilson wasn’t any more accurate on Seattle’s final possession, which ended with an interception. While you can debate whether the ball hit the ground before ricocheting back to linebacker Karlos Dansby, there is no doubt the pass was underthrown.
We’ve seen Wilson held back by the playbook as he was the first month of his rookie season. We saw him inhibited by dropped passes in a Week-7 loss at San Francisco last year, and for much of the first half of this season, we saw him harassed beyond belief by opposing pass rushers.
But we’ve never seen like he was on Sunday, when he was simply off all afternoon.
“We couldn’t get the completions,” coach Pete Carroll said. “That’s just really uncharacteristic.”
And that’s about as detailed as Carroll was going to get without having a chance to look at the film.
“It was hard today,” Carroll said. “I don’t know why we had so much coverage on us today. The spacing wasn’t there as much as we were used to. Protection was really good. He had plenty of time, but they were covering us up pretty well. For whatever reason, we just couldn’t find guys open.”
This was going to happen. No one stays perfect in the NFL. Not even when you have a home-field advantage like Seattle does at CenturyLink Field, and the significance of Sunday’s game will be determined by what happens next week when the Seahawks and Wilson get what amounts to a mulligan. They’ll play the Rams at home with a chance to wrap up the division title they failed to clinch on Sunday.
But for now, Seattle suffered its second loss in three weeks, and for as much credit as the Cardinals deserve for the way they played Sunday, remember that the Seahawks scored 34 points against this same Arizona team back in Week 7 when they punted only once in the first three quarters.
On Sunday, the Seahawks punted on eight of their first 10 possessions in a game that left the Seahawks kicking themselves.
More coverage of Seattle’s Week-16 loss to Arizona at CenturyLink Field.
|• Recap | Stats | Photos | Postgame interviews||• O’Neil: What We Learned||• The Pete Carroll Show: A ‘frustrating’ day||• Henderson: Defense can’t finish off Cards||• Henderson: Close calls go Cardinals’ way|
“A disappointing loss,” Wilson said. “We should have won that game, we felt like. There were so many opportunities. Defense did a great job. They can’t play any better. They made play after play after play.”
The same could not be said for Seattle’s offense. While the Seahawks were peaking last December, totaling 150 points in a three-game span, they are skidding into the regular-season finale this year. A week ago, Seattle scored 23 points despite having the benefit of five turnovers against the Giants. On Sunday, four turnovers added up to only 10 points.
There will be plenty of people asking about Percy Harvin this week, wondering if the receiver might be active after missing his fourth consecutive game following his Seahawks debut. But Seattle got to 12-2 while having him for only a total of 16 offensive snaps, and this season does not depend on his availability so much as the ability of the rest of Seattle’s offense to rebound from Sunday’s defeat.
“You’re going to have ups and downs in life,” Wilson said. “Everything doesn’t just perfectly go easy. If you’re trying to get to something great, a lot of times you go through some hardships and some times where everything is not perfect. You go through some bumps in the road.”
In this case, it wasn’t a bump on the road, but at home.