Seahawks missed opportunities but showed they have a chance in playoffs
The Seahawks’ second half against San Francisco wasn’t quite enough to win Sunday’s game and earn the home playoff game that went with it.
It might have accomplished something even more important, though, as the Seahawks now enter the playoffs alive and kicking after playing six straight largely cadaverous quarters of football going back to the Arizona game.
Oh, you expected this to be a hand-wringer of a column about Seattle’s 26-21 loss to San Francisco in the regular-season finale? Some gnashing of teeth and wringing of hands over both the coaching and the officiating? Wailing on about that inexcusable delay-of-game penalty and then moving onto some deep-rooted loathing for that coward of a replay official who – along with all of America – watched Jacob Hollister get groped on Seattle’s second-to-last play yet refused to stop the game to take a look via instant replay.
Yeah. There’s room to rail if that’s what you want to do, but all the anger in the world isn’t going to change the fact that Pete Carroll’s sideline tends to be on the chaotic side. And as much as you can argue that the NFL should have reviewed that incomplete pass to Hollister, the reality is that the officials have resolutely refused to employ replay to remedy missed pass-interference penalties, so why should we expect them to come to their senses and start doing so in the final minute of the final regular-season game of the year?
I’m not going to pretend the loss didn’t matter. The Seahawks would have been better off playing at home against Minnesota next weekend as the No. 3 seed in the NFC as opposed to traveling to Philadelphia as a wild-card entrant, and there’s no way to minimize that forehead-slapper of a penalty when Seattle took too long with its substitutions from the sideline after it had clocked the ball at the San Francisco 1.
But I also think that the second half Seattle played against San Francisco is more important with regard to the Seahawks’ playoff chances than the granular details of why the Seahawks lost that game to the 49ers.
That’s because I think Seattle is going into these playoffs with a fighting chance, which is saying something after that first half Sunday in which the Seahawks seemed ready for a toe tag. Their first three drives produced a grand total of 30 yards and their only potential scoring drive was squelched on fourth-and-1 when the Seahawks decided to hand the ball to Marshawn Lynch while trusting Tyrone Swoopes, essentially their No. 5 tight end this season, block Nick Bosa. On the other side, Niners quarterback Jimmy Garofalo completed his first nine passes and the Niners didn’t punt in the first two quarters.
At halftime, the fact the Seahawks were already guaranteed a playoff berth felt more like a sentence than an opportunity. And then a funny thing happened in the second half: The Seahawks showed some life for the first time in a game and a half.
They scored a touchdown on each of their first three possessions of the second half, and while Seattle’s defense didn’t summon memories of the 2013 campaign, it gave the offense a shot and the Seahawks came within a yard of winning the NFC West – and more importantly the home playoff game that goes with it.
Seattle once again looked resilient. Almost formidable even. Travis Homer was a very capable every-down back, and Lynch provided an emotional boost and several feet of elevation on his fourth-quarter touchdown dive from the 1.
It looked like he was going to get a chance for an encore in the final minute of the fourth quarter, substituting into the game only to have the play clock run out, Seattle being assessed a 5-yard penalty before they’d even got to the line.
That mistake very well may have cost Seattle a victory and the home playoff game that went with it, but it’s the way Seattle played for the preceding 29 minutes of the second half that made you think they’ve got a chance in these playoffs even if they do have to go out on the road.