SEATTLE SEAHAWKS

After 4 straight losses, last quarter of Seahawks’ season is crucial

Dec 12, 2023, 4:15 PM | Updated: 4:19 pm

Seattle Seahawks head coach...

Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll hugs safety Julian Love prior to a Dec. 10, 2023 game. (Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

(Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

RENTON, Wash. (AP) — If the season is viewed in quarters, as Pete Carroll likes to do, then the third quarter was a complete disaster for the Seattle Seahawks and the fourth quarter needs to be nearly perfect for a team that believed it was playoff-caliber to reach its goal.

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Seattle lost its fourth straight game on Sunday, 28-16 to San Francisco, another performance that widened the massive gap between the 49ers and Seahawks in the NFC West. Losing four straight games is a first for Carroll in his Seattle tenure and dropped the Seahawks (6-7) below .500.

Suffering another loss was irritating enough for Carroll. But the way it happened, with blown assignments and missed coverages on defense, seemed to leave the coach more flustered than usual.

“That was just really frustrating because this was a chance to beat these guys at their place. We had a shot to do that,” Carroll said. “We moved the football well enough to get some points on the board. We were going to have to stop them all night long. We didn’t get it done.”

Seattle gave up 527 total yards to the 49ers and San Francisco averaged nearly a first down every snap. That the Niners scored only 28 points might be the most surprising aspect of the outcome.

The schedule has been brutal for Seattle and injuries haven’t helped, including Sunday when starting quarterback Geno Smith was sidelined by a groin injury and Drew Lock started. And snapping the losing streak and getting back into the playoff conversation doesn’t get any easier with a visit from Philadelphia this week.

WHAT’S WORKING

The Seahawks had nine plays of 20 yards or more on offense, the most of any game this season. Seattle’s previous high for 20-yard plays was six against Cincinnati, and the Seahawks had just two in their first meeting with San Francisco.

WHAT NEEDS HELP

As a group, Seattle has one of the highest-paid set of safeties in the league and none appear to be playing up to the level of their salaries. Jamal Adams was badly beat on third-and-11, giving up a 54-yard touchdown to Deebo Samuel. Quandre Diggs appeared to be out of position on Christian McCaffrey’s 72-yard run to start the game. Julian Love had the most productive day with an interception and forced fumble, but also appeared to get beat on a handful of plays.

STOCK UP

Lock was more than serviceable filling in for Smith and making his first start since the end of the 2021 season. Lock threw two touchdown passes and two interceptions. A couple more of his passes could have been picked off as well. But for the most part, Lock looked comfortable in the pocket, made smart reads and used his legs when needed. There are a few decisions he would like back, but he flashed some of the skills that made him a second-round draft pick.

STOCK DOWN

DK Metcalf again found himself in the spotlight for the wrong reason after his retaliation led to his ejection in the fourth quarter. Metcalf had reason to be upset after Fred Warner gave him an unnecessary hit from behind following an interception — especially considering Metcalf’s history of suffering a neck injury in college. But his reaction led to an all-out scuffle, and he was deemed the instigator. Metcalf has shown in the past his emotions can get the better of him and opponents have tried to create situations where he will react adversely, with Sunday the latest example.

INJURIES

The focus will be on Smith (groin) and his recovery. Playing on Monday night should increase the chances Smith will be able to start. Standout rookie cornerback Devon Witherspoon suffered a hip pointer in the first quarter and didn’t return. Cornerback Tre Brown also missed the game with a heel injury and his absence was felt when Witherspoon departed.

Carroll said he thinks Witherspoon will be back against the Eagles, while Brown has a good shot at returning.

KEY NUMBER

9.94 — The 49ers averaged 9.94 yards per play. Take out kneel-downs, and it was more than 10 yards per snap. It’s just the eighth time since 2000 a team has allowed 9.9 yards per play in a game. Denver allowed 10.23 yards per play earlier this season when it gave up 70 points to Miami.

NEXT STEPS

Seattle’s chances of making the playoffs likely rest on whether it can snap the losing streak next Monday night when it hosts Philadelphia. It’s a massive game for both teams — Seattle’s playoff chances and the Eagles’ hopes of winning the NFC East. The final three weeks of the regular season are far more manageable, but those games could become meaningless if the Seahawks stumble again.

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