Instant Reaction: Seahawks’ loss to Steelers hurts playoff odds

Dec 31, 2023, 4:52 PM

Seattle Seahawks Pete Carroll...

Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll walks off the field after losing to Pittsburgh on Dec. 31, 2023. (Jane Gershovich/Getty Images)

(Jane Gershovich/Getty Images)

The Seattle Seahawks have an all-important final week of the season coming up, and the reason behind it is their disappointing 30-23 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday afternoon.

Pittsburgh Steelers 30, Seattle Seahawks 23: Big Plays | Stats

As we do after every Seahawks game, we have collected the instant reactions of the voices of Seattle Sports to the defeat. Read what they have to say below, and be sure to tune in this week for much more Seahawks coverage, including a special Tuesday edition of The Pete Carroll Show at 9:30 a.m. during Brock and Salk.

Mike Salk – Brock and Salk (6-10 a.m.)

The thing about controlling your own destiny is that you actually have to win the games to get to your destination. And if you want to beat a physical team like the Steelers, you have to step up your own level of physicality.

This wasn’t a matter of communication, scheme or any of the other issues we’ve discussed this season. This was one team going on the road and bullying the other for the better part of 60 minutes.

The 202 rushing yards should make it obvious, but we’ve seen teams break a few runs against the Seahawks due to miscommunication or missed open field tackles to pad that number. This was anything but that. It was a straight up lesson in what the strong can do to the weak, punctuated by a pair of Najee Harris plays that should cause shame in the film review. Seeing him toss Riq Woolen to the ground with a nasty straight arm was bad, but watching him push a handful of players nearly five years into the end zone was humiliating.

Worse than that, it highlighted the biggest issue this team has had all season long: they don’t win enough physical battles, especially at the line of scrimmage.

The Seahawks have had worse losses on the scoreboard this year – certainly the Rams, Ravens and Niners blowouts looked bad. But this wasn’t against the NFL’s elite nor was it that problematic scheme that your division rivals have used to slice and dice their way through your defense. This was just an inability to stop an offense that was willing to run it down your throat until you proved you could put up some semblance of resistance. And that might hurt even worse.

Stacy Rost – Bump and Stacy (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.)

Click the link here to read Stacy’s column from right after Sunday’s game.

Bob Stelton – Wyman and Bob (2-7 p.m.)

The Steelers do not have a good offense. They rank in the bottom half of the league in just about every offensive category – and the Seahawks defense made them look like a machine.

This was an embarrassing display by the Seahawks’ defense. Geno Smith and the Hawks’ offense did more than enough to win this game, but the Hawks’ defense made that an impossibility. I mean, the Steelers had 100 yards rushing with 10:27 left in the second quarter!

The Seahawks’ defense in the last 10 games has allowed an average of 155 rushing yards per game and 5.1 yards per carry. That’s 31st in the league. On Sunday, they gave up 202 rushing yards and three rushing TDs on 46 carries. On top of that, it may have been one of their worst tackling games of the season, and that’s saying quite a bit considering how this season has gone for them.

Throw in 274 passing yards from Steelers backup QB Mason Rudolph and it was the perfect recipe for a huge loss.

Now instead of controlling their own destiny, we will now go through the myriad of playoff scenarios and rooting for other teams to help this team that couldn’t help themselves.

Dave Wyman – Wyman and Bob/Seahawks Radio Network color commentator

Mike Lefko – Wyman and Bob

Wholesale changes are needed on defense.

The Steelers came in as the fifth-worst scoring team (17.1 points per game) and 26th in yards per game (294.4), but they eviscerated the Seahawks’ defense. The FOX broadcast showed the stat late in the game that the Steelers put up their highest yardage total since November 2018, and they did it with their offense being led by a guy who entered the year as their third-string quarterback.

No one could or wanted to tackle for the Seahawks, and it kept Pittsburgh drives alive and let the Steelers control time of possession in this one. The Steelers ran for 145 yards in the first half, stiff-armed Seahawks defenders to the ground and did pretty much whatever they wanted in a game where they punted just once and finished with 468 total yards of offense.

It gave the Seahawks’ offense no margin for error, and the nail in the coffin came on the one turnover of the game – the late strip-sack of Geno Smith. The offense isn’t fully blameless – the Steelers were down to their third-string linebacker and third-string safety – but in a game where possessions were scarce because the defense couldn’t get off the field, it’s difficult to put too much blame on that side of the ball.

A couple of decisions loom large, as well. The Seahawks not going for it on fourth-and-1 from midfield early in the game came back to hurt them, as did a questionable challenge decision late in the game that left them without a timeout.

It’s a sour end to 2023, as the Seahawks had a golden opportunity to put themselves in a prime spot to make the playoffs. Instead, it’s win-and-need-help once again.

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Instant Reaction: Seahawks’ loss to Steelers hurts playoff odds