Takeaways: Penalties story of the day, but 3 performances stand out in Seahawks’ loss
The Seahawks entered Sunday’s game against the San Francisco 49ers with a chance to clinch a playoff spot. Instead of punching their ticket to a wild card, Seattle leaves Santa Clara with the loss and a few big injury concerns.
Head coach Pete Carroll might disagree here about silver linings, but there were a few from Seattle’s 26-23 overtime loss to San Francisco, including standout performances from Doug Baldwin, Chris Carson and Jarran Reed.
But the best news for a Seahawks team desperately looking to return to the postseason is their odds with the loss today. Despite falling to 8-6, the Seahawks still have odds of well over 90 percent to make the playoffs. A single win will do it, but with just two games remaining, including a Sunday night contest against the 11-3 Kansas City Chiefs, Seattle is entering crunch time to close out December.
Here are a few quick takeaways from Week 15:
Big performances from Baldwin, Carson and Reed
Doug Baldwin has been in and out of games this year with injuries to his hip, groin, and both knees. But after being sidelined last week, the veteran receiver announced his return with a two-touchdown performance Sunday.
Baldwin finished the day with 77 yards and two scores on four receptions. Quarterback Russell Wilson found Baldwin in the end zone in the first quarter for a 5-yard touchdown, the first score of the game for either team, and the pair connected again on a 35-yard touchdown in the second quarter. Baldwin was particularly impressive on this play, reaching out to extend the ball over the plane as he was being brought down just outside the end zone.
Running back Chris Carson was another standout on offense. The second-year pro finished with 119 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries (5.4 yards per carry), which marks his fourth time this season rushing for 100 yards or more. Carson’s fourth-quarter touchdown didn’t just tie the game, but also emphasized the kind of rushing attack Carroll has favored with his offense. Facing fourth-and-goal from the one-yard line, Carson bulldozed his way forward to turn what looked like a stop by the 49ers into a score for Seattle.
On the other side of the ball, third-year defensive tackle Jarran Reed furthered his case for a contract extension. Reed, who entered Sunday’s game with a career-high 6.5 sacks, registered two more by day’s end.
Penalties loom large
Penalties were the story of the day for Carroll.
“We ran the football, we converted on third down, we held them on third down, time of possession, so many things, we were plus in the turnover ratio… but (penalties) really kind of spelled it today,” Carroll said.
The Seahawks outperformed the 49ers on third down efficiency (47 percent compared to 30 percent), net yardage (385 to 381) and turnovers. However, Seattle was also penalized 14 times for 148 yards.
“(Those are) some huge lessons for our team,” Carroll said. “We’ve got to make sure we can’t hurt ourselves. When that happens it’s hard to overcome, and we didn’t today.”
There were a few questionable calls on both sides, but a number of Seattle’s penalties came at inopportune times. This included two offensive holding calls on right guard Ethan Pocic: one to wipe out a 19-yard run by Mike Davis late in the fourth quarter, and another to negate a critical third-down conversion in overtime.
Injury questions linger for McDougald and Simmons
Safety Bradley McDougald and right guard Jordan Simmons were both forced out of the game by injuries.
McDougald left the game in the second quarter after his knee “flared up” – that’s how Carroll described it – and was unable to return. The injury is related to the same patellar tendonitis issue that has lingered for McDougald all season (the veteran strong safety was listed as “questionable” heading into the game).
Simmons exited the game with knee soreness. Carroll later clarified this as a first-degree sprain, and said the team will know more about his status next week. Pocic came in to replace Simmons, who was starting in place of an injured D.J. Fluker (hamstring).
Next week’s availability for both players remains unclear.