BRANDON GUSTAFSON

How did Seahawks lose to Bears? 3rd down, 2 Wilson plays loom large

Dec 26, 2021, 5:21 PM
Seahawks...
Seahawks QB Russell Wilson loses the ball as he stretches to gain more yards against the Chicago Bears on Sunday. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

For just the second time since Russell Wilson was drafted in 2012, the Seahawks will miss the playoffs. That was expected after last week’s loss to the Los Angeles Rams, but it’s now official after Seattle blew a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter and the Chicago Bears won the Week 16 matchup 25-24.

Graham’s TD lifts Bears past Seahawks | Instant Reaction

The game was an eventful one from the start as the Seahawks played just the third snow game in Qwest/CenturyLink/Lumen Field history, and while it looked like a fairly standard snow game at first, there were a good deal of fireworks from both sides.

For the Seahawks, most of the good came early, such as a long DK Metcalf touchdown reception for his first score since Week 8. There was also a big game from Rashaad Penny, who had 135 yards on just 17 carries and scored his third touchdown of the year. Tight end Gerald Everett was also a strong factor in the passing game, leading all players with 68 receiving yards and nabbing his fourth touchdown reception of the year.

Defensively, Rasheem Green and Carlos Dunlap were standouts, each tallying two sacks. Green and Dunlap are now tied for the team lead with 6.5 sacks each on the year.

But the Bears were able to hang around as Seattle couldn’t put together the finishing blow. Chicago’s biggest deficit was 10 points, but a long drive made it a seven-point game with just under 11 minutes to go, and the Seahawks wouldn’t score again.

The Bears would, as former Seahawks tight end Jimmy Graham caught a touchdown with just 1:01 left and Chicago went for the two-point try and the win. Damiere Byrd made a spectacular catch to make the conversion the try and subsequently give the road team a snowy come-from-behind victory.

What makes the loss uglier for the Seahawks isn’t just that it was a game they should have won, nor that it clinches Seattle’s first 10-loss season since 2009, but that the Bears were down to third-string quarterback Nick Foles, who hadn’t played since November 2020.

So what key things attributed to this loss? Let’s dive in.

Chicago wins on third down

The Seahawks, as we’ve discussed on this website and station for a few years now, struggle on third down.

Seattle entered Week 16 ranking 30th in the league in third-down conversion percentage. Only two teams have been worse.

One of those two teams? You guessed it: the Chicago Bears.

Chicago started the game 4 of 6 on third down and finished the day 7 of 14.

What makes that mark even more staggering and upsetting from a Seahawks perspective is not only have the Bears been horrid on third down this season, but Seattle entered Week 16 sixth in third-down defense. That’s been a big reason why the Seahawks, despite ranking so poorly in yards allowed, have excelled in limiting points.

Foles and Co. were able to convert half of their third-down tries, including conversions where they needed 12 yards, nine yards and eight yards. The worst, though, was that Graham’s catch came on third-and-14 after Dunlap stripped Foles on first down but the Seahawks were unable to recover the ball.

I mentioned that the Seahawks have been poor on third down this season, and that rang true Sunday. Seattle converted just 3 of 10 third-down tries and did not convert a single time on third down in the second half on four attempts.

Unfortunately for the Seahawks, that issue has yet again persisted on offense in 2021 just a year after finishing 27th in third-down conversion rate.

Russ misses DK again

In the Seahawks’ Tuesday (still feels weird to write) loss to the Los Angeles Rams, Wilson had Metcalf wide open for what likely would have been a game-tying touchdown on the far left sideline. The issue was Wilson, who has been arguably the NFL’s best deep-ball passer over the last handful of years, underthrew his big speedy wideout and the pass fell incomplete.

Wilson didn’t have a would-be touchdown miss like that against the Bears, but he did miss Metcalf at a very critical time of the game.

Wilson did find Metcalf for a long touchdown to start the day’s scoring, but he missed him on third-and-4 in the third quarter on what, in hindsight, was a very big play.

As noted, the Seahawks needed four yards to move the chains. There were still over 11 minutes left in the third quarter, but the Seahawks were on the Bears’ 43-yard line. A conversion would have allowed for Seattle to keep the ball and potentially score. Given that the Seahawks lost by one point thanks to that 2-point conversion, any points there likely could have helped seal the deal.

Instead, Wilson overthrew Metcalf in the flat and Seattle punted. Metcalf was open, and had he caught the ball he certainly would have moved the sticks. Overall, Wilson completed just 16 of 27 passes for 181 yards.

That was a huge miss, even if we didn’t realize how big at the time, but it still wasn’t Wilson’s biggest mistake of the contest.

Wilson sacked, Myers misses

Wilson was sacked just twice by the Bears on Sunday, but that second sack was especially big for Chicago and awful for the Seahawks.

Remember how we said that missing out on points in the third quarter was bad? Well, the Seahawks could have sealed the game at this point, as well, but they came up empty after Wilson was sacked.

What happened?

With just over eight minutes to go, the Seahawks faced third-and-4 from Chicago’s 8-yard line while up a touchdown.

How did Seattle not score while on Chicago’s 8-yard line? Well, on third down, Wilson avoided Robert Quinn and spun to his left,  but Quinn stayed hot in pursuit and took down the quarterback for a loss of 13 yards.

Then, kicker Jason Myers, who was perfect on field goals in 2020 but has made just 12 of 17 this year, pulled one from 39 out and the Bears’ defense got the big win.

The Seahawks wouldn’t score the rest of the way while the Bears would take the lead with just a minute left in the game.

Next up for the Seahawks is their home finale against the 2-12-1 Detroit Lions. The Lions are the only team who have been worse than the Bears and Seahawks on third down this year, but as we saw with Chicago, that wasn’t the case against Seattle.

Photos: Seahawks play Bears in snow at Lumen Field

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How did Seahawks lose to Bears? 3rd down, 2 Wilson plays loom large