Clayton: Why Seahawks’ loss to Giants could end up being so costly
So much for the “easy” four-game stretch of the Seahawks’ schedule.
The Seahawks’ stunning 17-12 loss to the New York Giants on Sunday did extreme damage, and it can’t be repeated.
At 8-4, the Seahawks will still make the playoffs, but the loss most likely killed their chances to get a No. 1 or a No. 2 seed in the NFC. They are two games behind the New Orleans Saints and one game behind a Green Bay Packers team that only has one more game against a team with a winning record (Tennessee on Dec. 20).
Even worse, the loss to the Giants could eventually cost the Seahawks the NFC West title and make them a wild-card team. The Los Angeles Rams are 8-4 and have the tie-breaking edge because of their earlier victory over the Seahawks in Los Angeles. It makes Seattle’s Week 16 game against the Rams a must-win.
The Packers and Saints could get to 13 wins. The best the Rams and Seahawks can do is 12.
This might have been one of the Seahawks’ worst losses in the Pete Carroll era. So much was wrong.
First, you start with the offense. After leading the NFL in scoring in the first half of the season with around 34 points a game, the Seahawks have averaged only 19.75 points in the past four games. Sure, the offensive line was missing right tackle Brandon Shell, but there were two major problems with the passing game. The Giants’ zone defense took away Russell Wilson’s ability to pass the ball downfield, and there were coverage sacks as well as some bad sacks that were attributed to Wilson.
According to Next Gen Stats, Wilson averaged 3.38 seconds a throw. That was the most in the NFL in Week 13. He ended up getting sacked five times for 45 yards. Those big sacks are drive killers, and against the Giants they were game killers. The Seahawks were 4 for 13 on third down. That’s bad. Despite the great offensive start of the season, the Seahawks are 38.7% on third downs this year. Not good enough.
The play calling against the Giants was off. As Carroll said Monday morning on 710 ESPN Seattle, it was not Seahawks football. Wilson dropped back to pass 45 times. Running backs had only 15 carries. It’s understood they are trying to get Chris Carson through his painful foot injury. He only ran the ball 13 times.
One of the problems is that there might have been too many outside running plays. What the Seahawks needed to do is have more running plays up the middle. Overall, the Seahawks have dropped in stats to where they are now a No. 8 offense in the league.
The stunning part on defense was how the Giants were able to rush the ball for 190 yards. There were plenty of times in the early part of the second half where defenders were out of position to stop the run. The Giants have become a running team, but 190 yards? Bad.
What a weird year. The lack of a pass rush was a major problem in the first half of the season for Seattle, but in the past six games, the Seahawks have led the league with 24 sacks and now have 33 for the season.
The Seahawks do get a breather this week when the winless New York Jets come to town. The Jets fired defensive coordinator Gregg Williams after he called a Cover Zero blitz Sunday against the Raiders on third-and-10 from near midfield with New York leading 28-24 in the final seconds. Seven defenders rushed the quarterback and Las Vegas quarterback Derek Carr was able to hit wide receiver Henry Ruggs against a rookie cornerback to give the Raiders a 31-28 win. Williams did this even though the Jets were down to roughly four rookie defensive backs.
Things need to be fixed in Seattle. If not, the Seahawks could open the playoffs with another game against a Giants team that had their number Sunday.
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