Rost: The good, the bad and the ugly for 2-4 Seahawks
A Seahawks team led by their backup quarterback and backup running back led a wild comeback against the Steelers in primetime, but their rally fell just short thanks to first half woes and a pristine performance from Pittsburgh’s T.J. Watt.
Here’s the good, the bad, and the ugly from Sunday’s Week 6 overtime loss.
• Alex Collins became the first Seahawks running back since 2019 to rush for 100 yards in a game. In a game without their franchise quarterback, the Seahawks were expected to lean into the run – even against a Steelers defense that was in the top 10 against opposing rushers. But there were just 18 rushing yards in the first half on five carries.
The message heading into the third quarter was clear: run. Collins had three consecutive carries – for 5 yards, then 11, then 21 – and closed out the drive with another five carries, including a 2-yard touchdown. He accounted for 61 of Seattle’s 75 yards on that scoring drive. And with a 5-yard scamper early in the fourth quarter, he became the first Seahawks running back to surpass 100 rushing yards in a game since Chris Carson did it in a Week 15 game against the Carolina Panthers in 2019.
• Rookie cornerback Tre Brown looked solid in his debut. The fourth-round rookie was thrown into the game after an injury to starting cornerback Sidney Jones and had a textbook tackle on a pivotal third down in overtime to stop Steelers wide receiver Ray-Ray McCloud just shy of a first down (watch video here). The tackle forced the Steelers into a punt.
Brown told reporters that he knew Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger would dump that pass off to McCloud.
“I had to bail, we were Cover-4, so I had to bail with my man. And I saw that it was third-and-4 pre-snap, so I covered the curl and knew that when Roethlisberger started scrambling, he was going to dump it off to (McCloud),” Brown said, adding that three Seahawks defenders were surrounding tight end Eric Ebron and Roethlisberger, badly needing a first down, turned his shoulders toward McCloud as he scrambled left out of the pocket.
“You’re going to dump it off to that guy just to get the first down and be safe, so that’s when I knew I had to go make that play.”
Brown’s outing was especially encouraging for Seattle given his recent return from the injured reserve. Brown was making his case for more playing time before suffering a sprained knee during a punt return in a preseason game. He was placed on the injured reserve on Sept. 7 and was finally activated Friday.
“As you ask me that question it’s tough to answer because I’m trying to keep my emotions,” Brown said when asked how he felt being thrown into the game. “I was looking forward to this for a while and they called my name and I was like, ‘Man, I gotta go out there and make plays.’ Seeing Ben Roethlisberger out there and trying not to be starstruck by anything because he’s a Hall of Fame player, and just seeing all these guys, and just being out there for the first time. Like I said, it was a wonderful feeling.”
• Pete Carroll went with his gut on a challenge call and it paid off. It’s only weird if it doesn’t work, right? In this case, consider that “it’s only bad if it doesn’t work out.” At the risk of being charged with a timeout – which would have been… less than ideal – Carroll opted to challenge the ruling, against the input of officials, on an incomplete pass from Roethlisberger. Seattle argued instead that it was a fumble recovered by Seattle defensive end Kerry Hyder Jr.
“The way we saw it was that it needed to be challenged, and the way (the officials) immediately saw it was (that it was a pass attempt),” Carroll said. “I had to go against what they were telling me. Their assessment happened in just a few seconds, and we see real difficult replays go three, four, five minutes. I thought this play, if given all of that time, we’d have a chance… and then the more we looked at it, I didn’t think it was a difficult call.”
• Finally, in the best news of the day, preliminary reports on linebacker Darrell Taylor are positive. Taylor was stretchered onto a cart and taken to a nearby hospital after a scary-looking collision with teammate Al Woods. But Carroll told reporters postgame that CT scans were clear and Taylor has movement in all of his extremities.
“There’s more tests to be done and stuff like that,” Carroll said, “(but) we’re thrilled about that news… (Taylor) was so mad by having to be taken off the field like that. He wanted to get up but they wouldn’t let him do it.”
• Collins was held out of the end of the game with a hip and glute injury. There’s a second half to the good news here. While Collins finished with over 100 rushing yards, he was curiously absent in overtime. Carroll said Collins took a hit to his hip and glute, which is why he didn’t appear in OT.
“His hip was kind of jacked up,” Carroll said, “(and) he couldn’t finish it.”
• Another slow half. New offensive coordinator Shane Waldron drew high praise following Seattle’s Week 1 win over Indianapolis, but his offense has struggled to get through four quarters of play. There have been second-half collapses – which fans were treated to at home against Tennessee – and slow starts. Sunday night’s loss fell into the latter category, and it made for an ugly first half. Seattle lost the time of possession battle (9:15 to 20:45) and had 65 net yards to Pittsburgh’s 177. The Seahawks were held scoreless without a single trip inside the red zone. Against a better offense than Pittsburgh’s, there might not be much room for a rally like the one we saw Sunday.
• Struggles with the screens. In what’s been an ongoing, and unfortunate, trend for Seattle, the Seahawks once against struggled with screen plays. I’ve got nothing for you here other than it’s a bit of a surprise for an offense headed up by a Sean McVay disciple. The Ringer’s Danny Kelly sums this one up pretty well.
there are few things that fill me with more white hot rage than watching the seahawks try to run a screen. literally every player on the steelers defense knew that was coming
— Danny Kelly (@DannyBKelly) October 18, 2021
• Geno Smith’s fumble. Smith played admirably for a second consecutive game, and in a world where this fumble doesn’t happen would’ve been credited with doing everything he could to keep Seattle competitive. But the Seahawks’ hope for a comeback was cut off at the knees when linebacker T.J. Watt – who had been a menace for the Seahawks’ offense all day – capped off his performance with a strip sack of Smith on a scramble. While Smith was never going to be responsible for putting the team on his back, every offensive player on a Pete Carroll team, from the starting quarterback to the third-string tight end, has one shared responsibility: protect the ball.
“We can’t keep coming up short – I can’t keep coming up short,” Smith said. “I put that on myself. Back to back weeks our defense gives us a chance to go out there and score, gives me the ball, and we don’t get it done. That’s solely on me, and I vow to be better.”
TJ WATT FORCES THE FUMBLE. #HereWeGo
— NFL (@NFL) October 18, 2021
• The reality of where the Seahawks are right now. An ugly first half became an incredibly productive third quarter, then became a wild fourth quarter finish, before finally coming to a halt with a heartbreaking loss in overtime. Seattle’s near comeback, which was done without Russell Wilson and Chris Carson and against a good defense, was impressive. But considering the Seahawks’ preseason aspirations, their 2-4 record is far from that. Intermingled with any temporary feel-good rally story from Sunday night’s wild ride is a much bolder, sour note: frustration, disappointment, and confusion from a team that had preseason Super Bowl aspirations.
As his postgame press conference was coming to a close, DK Metcalf received one final question from a reporter: What’s it going to take to turn things around?
“I wish I had the answer,” Metcalf said.
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