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Good, Bad and Ugly: Seahawks sunk by flags, defense in loss

Nov 30, 2023, 9:49 PM | Updated: 9:52 pm

Seattle Seahawks...

Jake Ferguson of the Dallas Cowboys makes a catch against Jamal Adams of the Seattle Seahawks on Nov. 30, 2023. (Ron Jenkins/Getty Images)

(Ron Jenkins/Getty Images)

The Seattle Seahawks took the Dallas Cowboys to the brink in a game they entered as heavy underdogs, but they ultimately lost 41-35 on Thursday night to fall to 6-6.

Cowboys 41, Seahawks 35: Instant Reaction | Big Plays | Recap | Stats

There were certainly some positives to the game as the score would indicate, but at the end of the day, Seattle has dropped three in a row and four of the last five.

So, let’s dive in to this one, shall we?

The Good: Offense has best game in a long time

Was it perfect? No. But was it the best we’ve seen in some time? You bet.

The Seahawks scored over 30 points for just the third time this year, and for the first time since Week 3.

After some absolute clunkers in recent weeks, the Seahawks’ offense finally put good drives together and found the end zone in a way that’s been rare for Seattle this season.

Geno Smith completed 23 of 41 passes for 334 yards and three touchdowns, and he also rushed for a touchdown.

All three of Smith’s touchdowns passes went to DK Metcalf, who had six catches on eight targets for 134 yards.

Rookie Jaxon Smith-Njigba got involved in a return to his home area, especially on third down, catching seven passes for 62 yards.

The offensive line overall had a good night in Abraham Lucas’ first game back since Week 1, and Smith was sacked just once and hit a total of six times.

The Seahawks also didn’t look completely lost on third down for the first time in ages, converting 9 of 14 tries on the “money down.”

What makes Seattle’s day on offense stand out even more is that the Cowboys were third in total defense and fourth in scoring defense entering Thursday’s matchup.

Seeing Smith move the offense up and down the field was a welcomed sight in what’s been an ugly season for that side of the ball. While it didn’t translate to a win, the hope would be there’s plenty to build on with a long rest ahead of a rematch on Sunday, Dec. 10 against the San Francisco 49ers, who kept the Seattle offense out of the end zone in a dominant 31-13 win on Thanksgiving.

The Bad: Seattle Seahawks’ fourth-down blues

Third down was kind to the Seahawks. Fourth down was not.

The Seahawks, for the most part, were able to keep the chains moving on Thursday, and there’s no better evidence for that than the fact that Michael Dickson didn’t have a single punt.

But if you’re looking for a critique of the offense that’s not Smith’s interception in the third quarter (which Dallas did not convert into points), it would be Seattle failing on fourth down not once, not twice, but three times. Those failures came on the Seahawks’ final three drives, too.

On the first attempt, running back Zach Charbonnet was stopped well short of the line to gain just past midfield with 7:04 to go in the fourth quarter. Dallas wound up scoring a touchdown and taking the lead seven plays later.

On the Seahawks’ next drive, Smith was pressured early and threw the ball up for Jaxon Smith-Njigba, who was still relatively early into his route and didn’t see the ball until it was past him.

And on Seattle’s final drive down 41-35 with a chance to win the game, there was either a miscommunication with the blocking scheme or a poor play call/design as star Dallas pass rusher Micah Parsons was left untouched and gave Smith no shot to try and find a receiver to move the chains.

Add that all up and it’s an 0-for-3 day on fourth down in a game where even just one conversion may have resulted in a Seattle victory.

The Ugly: Flags galore and defense

Before diving into a tough one for Seattle’s defense, let’s just make one thing abundantly clear: head official Clete Blakeman and his crew should be ashamed of themselves.

That was one of the ugliest, most mismanaged officiating games you’re going to see. It’s rare when both fanbases get that up in arms about the guys in stripes, but that’s what Blakeman and Co. accomplished on Thursday. Well done.

Yes, the Seahawks and Cowboys are among the most penalized teams in the NFL. And yes, there were certainly some instances that deserved penalizing. But good lord, 19 combined penalties for a grand total of 257 yards? And nearly all of those fouls coming against defensive backs? Yeah, that’s a real fun product, especially in primetime. That’s why we tune in!

At some point you’ve got to let the guys play. There were less flags in the fourth quarter, but that was a game that officials put their footprint on early and often, and it made a fun back-and-forth game tough to watch at times. Even the TV crew of Al Michaels and Kirk Herbstreit found it comical.

“We’re going to take the rest of the night off. We’ll let Clete Blakeman call the game,” Michaels said during the third quarter.

Moving on to another ugly thing we watched on Thursday, how about Seattle’s defense?

Yes, the Cowboys’ offense was aided by penalties, but that was true for both sides. It also doesn’t completely take away from a rough showing by Seattle’s defense.

Dallas outgained the Seahawks by just five yards (411 to 406), and did so with 79 plays to Seattle’s 64. But the Cowboys, like the Seahawks, didn’t punt the ball. At all.

Dallas had 11 total drives this game, and one of those was with kneel downs at the end of the game.

On the other 10 drives, the Cowboys scored nine of those times.

Nine. Times.

That lone drive with no points was a fourth-down stop after Smith’s interception where the Cowboys went for it rather than kicking a field goal at Seattle’s 30 yard line.

Again, we can talk penalties until we’re all blue in the face, especially after this game. Those flags often had a direct impact on Seattle struggling to get off the field. But as we’ve seen too often since the end of the Legion of Boom era, things seem to come very easy too often for Seattle’s opponents in the passing game.

Star receiver CeeDee Lamb caught 12 passes for 116 yards and a touchdown, regularly finding space against the Seahawks’ secondary.

Tight end Jake Ferguson caught six passes for 77 yards and a score that came against Jamal Adams, who looked lost in coverage in the end zone.

The Seahawks were able to apply some pressure to quarterback Dak Prescott, but he was in control nearly all of the game, completing 29 of 41 passes for 299 yards and three touchdowns, as well as a two-point conversion.

If there’s any positive to take away from the defense, it would be that the Seahawks tallied four sacks and forced four field goal attempts. Seattle bent but didn’t break on those drives, but the Hawks still broke too often in this one to come away with a win.

The Seahawks are 6-6 and now 0-3 to start a tough five-game stretch that very well could define their season. They’ve already lost to the Los Angeles Rams, 49ers and now the Cowboys over the last three weeks.

Next week against San Francisco, the Seahawks’ defense will need to turn the page in a big way after this one. And also hope that whichever crew is officiating the game leaves the yellow flags in their holster more often than we saw in Dallas.

More on the Seattle Seahawks

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Good, Bad and Ugly: Seahawks sunk by flags, defense in loss