Honestly, the Seahawks got what they deserved on Sunday.
They committed 16 penalties, second-most in franchise history. Blair Walsh missed all three of his field-goal attempts. They dropped two interceptions, to Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor. Russell Wilson threw two interceptions. They had a third and 30 and a fourth and 29.
The offense played, in receiver Doug Baldwin’s apt though not politically correct word, “sh***y.”
Actually, losing by only 17-14 to the battered, ultimately less-bad Washington Redskins was something of an accomplishment for Seattle at stunned, booing CenturyLink Field.
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That may have been its only accomplishment on this cold, wet, lost day.
Seattle (5-3) got beaten by a Washington team (4-4) that was missing three starting offensive linemen, two tight ends, a leading wide receiver, a starting inside linebacker and a starting defensive end to injuries.
“We made this so hard on ourselves,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said after his team’s four-game winning streak didn’t end as much as it flopped.
“We could have made this way easier.”
Seattle’s star-packed defense was back again shutting down an offense for most of a game, after blowing up the previous week while allowing Houston 38 points and rookie Deshaun Watson 402 yards passing. The Seahawks had a season-high six sacks.
Then it had 100 seconds and 70 yards to protect a four-point lead Wilson and Baldwin had given with a reviving, 30-yard touchdown pass.
But Washington’s Kirk Cousins made two remarkable throws in the final 90 seconds. The first was while he was getting smacked in the face mask by Seahawks Pro Bowl defensive end Michael Bennett, exquisitely placed to Brian Quick for 31 yards. That got Washington to the Seahawks 39-yard line.
“We got pressure on the quarterback,” Bennett said. “He just made a great play. We smacked him.”
Then Cousins changed a play at the line when he noticed press coverage in man to man by Seahawks rookie cornerback Shaquill Griffin outside left against Josh Doctson. Doctson sprinted on a go route down the left sideline.
“I put it out there pretty far,” Cousins said.
So far, Griffin appeared to give up on the play thinking there was no way Doctson would get to the long ball. Doctson did a full dive past him, stretched and caught Cousins’ long pass to the 1.
“Incredible throw by Kirk,” free safety Bradley McDougald said following his first Seattle start, for injured All-Pro Earl Thomas.
“Really bad timing for us as a defense.”
From there, Rob Kelley’s second 1-yard touchdown run of the day put Washington ahead with 59 seconds left.
Seattle’s offense had no more time outs. Carroll had spent the last one hoping to get a replay review to change Doctson’s catch to either a ruling of the pass hitting the turf or a roll into the end zone for a Redskins touchdown that would have saved the Seahawks some time.
A catch and run to the Washington 38 by Paul Richardson got the Seahawks a long-shot chance. But Wilson then got sacked out of any range for even a thought of Walsh trying a fourth field goal, from 64 yards with 4 seconds left. Wilson’s final, desperation heave into the end zone went off two pairs of hands--including those of Seattle receiver Tanner McEvoy--before hitting the turf.
So ended a game the Seahawks know they didn’t deserve to win, yet almost pulled out.
“We had a chance there,” Wilson said. “We believed that we were going to win.
“They made a couple more plays than us at the very end there. And that’s all it was.”
Well, that--and this: Walsh struggled in the swirling breeze plus rain and light snow showers that pushed kicks all over during pregame warm-ups. He stayed struggling, decisively, once the game began.
All three of his misses were way wide left, one to the closed end of the stadium and two to the tricky, open end toward downtown Seattle.
“You go out there and you warm up and see what the conditions are... No, those kicks were all me,” Walsh said.
The former Minnesota Viking was 12 for 13 on field goals in his Seattle debut season before this malfunctioning. Walsh had never before in his 83-game career missed two field goals under 50 yards in a game.
“I just have to know they are traveling to the left like that in that type of weather situation to compensate for it and aim a little bit different,” he said, “and put it down the middle.”
The Seahawks weren’t blaming all this all Walsh, though. Nor should they.
“It’s not our job to point fingers. It’s not our job to tear anybody down,” Bennett said.
Wilson told Walsh: “Man, we believe in you.”
“It’s not just Blair,” Wilson said.
“It’s on a lot of us. It’s on all of us.”
Wilson finished 24 for 45 passing for 297 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. He missed on 12 of his first 21 throws; Carroll said Wilson seemed “off rhythm all day long.”
One week after his franchise-record 452 passing yards rallied Seattle to win, Wilson had his lowest completion rate (53 percent) and lowest passer rating (70.3) since the opening loss without a touchdown at Green Bay. That was in early September.
Though it had three-time Pro Bowl left tackle Duane Brown debuting after his trade from Houston, the Seahawks again did not block well for an effective running game. Besides Wilson’s scrambling away from constant pressure for 77 yards, Seattle gained 71 yards on 18 carries.
Eddie Lacy’s chance at lead back ended after six runs, 20 yards and a groin injury in the first half. Carroll doesn’t know the severity. But it sounds and looks like Thomas Rawls (39 yards on nine rushes Sunday) is now the lead back.
Graham’s catch and bullish run for 15 yards to the Washington 16 set up Wilson’s first touchdown pass of the dreary day, 10 yards in the left flat to wide-open Luke Willson. The tight end did his air-flute, Techno Dance party gig in the end zone to celebrate, but Seattle still trailed 10-8. The two-point conversion attempt to tie the game failed when Wilson tried a slant pass at the goal line intended for J.D. McKissic that Washington’s D.J. Swearinger intercepted.
What is it about slant passes at the goal line with this team?
The only thing besides Bobby Wagner’s sack of Cousins on a blitz for a safety in the first quarter that had 69,000 fans cheering: halftime pig races.
Walsh missed his third field goal to the ugly half. Boos roared throughout the stadium after his 49-yard try went wide left. Then, while the rest of his team went into the locker room for the break, Walsh stayed out to practice field goals while pigs raced behind him as the halftime entertainment on the field.
Only a pig could love the slop Seattle created in the first half. It ended with the home team down 7-2.
Two of Seattle’s nine flags turned a first and 10 at the Washington 14 into a second and 30 from the 34. Seattle had first downs at the Washington 42, its 29, its 14 and the Seahawks 45. They turned those chances to score into a three-and-out punt, two missed field goals and Wilson’s first interception.
Right tackle Germain Ifedi’s holding penalty, his 12th accepted flag this season, ruined a 48-yard pass from Wilson to Baldwin to the Washington 21 late in the second quarter. That was the third holding foul on Seattle’s offensive line in the half. Right guard Oday Aboushi had the other two.
Brown still has seven holding penalties in 10 seasons.
The Seahawks (5-3) now have just two full practices before they head to Arizona for a Thursday-night game. They dropped to one game back of the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC West.
They give away one in this make-hay portion of their schedule. We’ll see how damaging that ends up being to where they want to be in January.
“It’s a long season,” Wilson said. “If we tapped out now we’d be crazy.”