DANNY AND GALLANT

Hawksplaining: Seahawks’ mistakes of the past linger in Week 17 loss

Dec 30, 2019, 1:14 AM | Updated: 1:31 am
Seahawks TE Jacob Hollister...
Seahawks tight end Jacob Hollister was stopped just short of a game-winning TD. (Getty)
(Getty)

The 2019 Seattle Seahawks have been what we hoped the final season of Game of Thrones would be: An adrenaline fueled marathon of (Russell Wilson) magic, devastating deaths injuries, and nail-biting final moments.

O’Neil: Hawks miss opportunities but show they have chance in playoffs

But unfortunately for the Hawks, this season had something else in common with Game of Thrones: Learning the lesson that mistakes of the past have consequences. And they never really go away.

“Hey PAWL. We don’t need a 3 paragraph pop culture reference to explain a football game. GET TO THE POINT!”

I’ll just list them:

• Yeah, Russell Wilson was only sacked once, but he got killed out there. The 49ers hit him nine times, forced several mad scrambles to nowhere, and made every Seattle yard look laborious. That poor protection also led to hurried, inaccurate passes in the red zone on Seattle’s final drive. There’s no fix for this, and this is no longer a matter of Russ holding the ball too long. The pass protection isn’t good enough and it’s not getting better by before next season.

• Was the pressure that Wilson faced the reason for the slow start on offense? Perhaps. Injuries on the O-line (Duane Brown), at running back (Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny), and losses at receiver (Malik Turner to injury, Josh Gordon to suspension) have also factored in. Whatever the case, the Seahawks spotted the 49ers a 13-0 halftime lead and didn’t get to San Francisco’s side of the field until the final three minutes of the first half.

• Who else was surprised that the Seahawks had all three of their timeouts when San Francisco got the ball back with a five-point lead with just 3:36 to play? I sure was. Finally, a game where Pete Carroll managed things correctly! It was setting up like the end of a movie. Seattle got the ball to the 49ers’ 1. Wilson spiked the ball to stop the clock. Marshawn Lynch dramatically trotted onto the field while (in my mind) “My Hero” by Foo Fighters blasted from the CenturyLink Field speakers. And… wait why is there a flag on the field? For a delay of game? How does that happen?

• The Seahawks’ defense has been a liability all season. Seattle rarely generates pressure. The Seahawks have been extremely inconsistent with their tackling. San Fran’s 5.3 yards per carry average involved many a miss. And it always seems like some opposing receiver is wide open over the middle of the field. Always. Blame the scheme. Blame the injuries. Or blame George Kittle, Deebo Samuel and Emmanuel Sanders (18 combined touches for 253 yards) for simply being better than the Seahawks’ back end. Whatever the case, this is another problem that isn’t going away anytime soon.

• I feel like a disappointed dad with these Seahawks. The recurring problems are incredibly frustrating. How many times do we need to remind them to close the door, button up their coat or pick up their toys?

Still, it’s hard for me to be angry with this team. Yeah, the Seahawks love to procrastinate on offense. And yeah, they seem to have an inexplicable infatuation with their base defense. But considering they’re a young, extremely banged-up squad, an 11-5 regular season with competitive efforts 75% of the way seems quite appropriate.

OTHER NOTES

• Marshawn Lynch wasn’t super effective, but he remains the best.

• Travis Homer, who actually started at running back, shined in this one. He withstood some brutal hits, continued to show off his speed and really stood out as a receiver. He finished the game with 15 combined touches for 92 yards. His performance helped Seattle (somehow) run for 125 yards and average 4.2 yards per carry.

• Once again, the Seahawks took a very long time to get Tyler Lockett involved. He didn’t have a pass thrown his way until the final two minutes of the first half. That needs to change.

• On the other hand, it was interesting to see the amount of crunch time faith that Russell Wilson had in DK Metcalf. On Seattle’s last two drives, Wilson targeted Metcalf eight times, completing three of them for 48 yards, including the Hawks’ last touchdown.

• K.J. Wright brought a much-needed edge to the Seahawks’ defense halfway through the game. He delivered two bone crushers in the backfield – one right before halftime and the other on the second play of the second half – that for a moment seemed to give Seattle some defensive momentum. Unfortunately, it didn’t last very long.

• A week after going 1 for 12 on third down, the Seahawks were 8 for 14 Sunday. It’s a somewhat misleading stat. The Seahawks found themselves in a lot of third down scenarios because of just how laborious it was to get any yard, but moving the ball against the 49ers after being unable to do it against the Cardinals was certainly progress.

• Seattle was only penalized five times for 29 yards. Obviously one of those penalties (*cough* the delay of game *cough*) felt like a 15 yard penalty, but discipline is neat.

Follow 710 ESPN Seattle’s Paul Gallant on Twitter.

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