When I saw the scores from Sunday’s early games with the Rams and Eagles each scoring 51 points in easy wins over inferior opponents, I expected something similar from the Seahawks.
I didn’t really think they’d score 51 too, but after putting 41 on the Texans last week and seemingly finding an offensive groove, I looked for something in the 30s against the depleted Redskins. Or even something in the 20s with Washington scoring next to nothing with its top two receivers and four starting offensive linemen out with injuries.
Whatever the final score, I thought the Seahawks would win in comfortable fashion, improve to 6-2, and we’d be talking about the possibility of a 13-3 record while overtaking the 8-1 Eagles for the No. 1 seed in the NFC going into the playoffs.
Instead, after a 17-14 loss to the Redskins, we’re wondering what the heck happened, and then I saw an ESPN.com story that said if the season ended today, the Seahawks wouldn’t even be in the playoffs.
Two weeks ago, the Seahawks signed Dwight Freeney, and I was so impressed with him when he spoke to the media that I thought he’d give a big lift to an already good defense.
Last week I felt the trade for left tackle Duane Brown would help shore up the team’s biggest weakness – the offensive line – and be another reason why the Seahawks would go from Super Bowl contender to Super Bowl favorite.
Now I don’t know what to think. Maybe they’ll still be there like they always are come January. And maybe there wouldn’t be so much angst if Blair Walsh had simply made his three field goal attempts instead of missing them all.
I can’t work up much anger when it comes to Walsh, and this goes for kickers in general. I know you can say that he’s paid well to make kicks, and if he can’t make ’em, find someone else who can. Let’s wait a week on that. If he goes 0 for 3 at Arizona Thursday night, fine, bring in candidates for tryouts to replace him. In the meantime, put yourself in his shoes. However you feel about the loss today, I’m guessing he feels worse. If you’re in the camp that thinks he will never be the same after missing a game-winning attempt in the playoffs for Minnesota against the Seahawks two years ago, guess what, I’m with you.
I’ll never truly believe in Walsh until he makes one for the Seahawks when it counts the most – to win a game. I might be wrong, but when someone whiffs like he did, it’s always in the back of your mind and never completely goes away until you conquer those demons by coming through over and over again. That little seed of doubt gets in the way of muscle memory, or at least that’s my dime-store psychological take on it.
And yet I will root for Walsh ’til the cows come home. I say that because we interviewed him on our show on 710 ESPN Seattle last month, and I appreciated that he courteously talked about the Minnesota whiff after no doubt talking about it umpteen times in other interviews over the past two years.
Walsh also was a stand-up guy after Sunday’s game, talking to reporters about his rough day. He could have dodged the media and didn’t. I cut him all kinds of slack for that.
If I’m going to blame anyone for the loss, it’s the Seattle secondary. It probably sounds crazy to blame any position group on a defense that held the Redskins in check for most of the game, but the secondary allowed the Redskins to go 70 yards in four plays in 35 seconds and win the game. It’s especially baffling since the Seahawks had a great pass rush all day, sacking Kirk Cousins six times. Then again, perhaps it would have ended differently if Earl Thomas had played, but their All-Pro safety was out with a strained hamstring.
This game is another reminder of not only the unpredictable nature of the NFL but also the role of emotional intangibles in an outcome. A banged-up Giants team is not supposed to win in Denver any more than a banged-up Redskins team is supposed to win in Seattle. But when you keep hearing you have no chance, I’m guessing you build up a unifying feeling of “We’ll see about that!”
As much as it would be easy to think the Seahawks don’t have what it takes this season, they could demolish Arizona Thursday night and change the perception completely.
I don’t think the Seahawks are as bad as they looked Sunday, and the great thing for them this year, no one in their conference appears to be that much better. For now, their records say they’re better than the Seahawks, but let’s see how the Eagles, Vikings, Saints and Rams fare in the second half of the season.
We already know the Seahawks are a second-half team in games and seasons. Since Russell Wilson was drafted in 2012, the Seahawks are 31-9 in games played in the second half of the season.
When I covered the Sonics and asked Gary Payton how his team could have lost a certain game, he’d usually respond by saying: “It was just something that happened.” Which is the best explanation for Sunday’s loss – it was out of the ordinary and not what we should expect in the final eight games.