If I were to tell you before the game that Thomas Rawls would rush for 160+ yards, the offense would produce 24 points, defense would generate two turnovers including one for a score, and held a seventeen point lead in the fourth quarter what would you have thought?
I’m guessing many of you would have predicted a win. For 48 minutes of yesterday’s game versus the Bengals it looked like the Seahawks were about to put a exclamation point on one of their best games in recent memory. At the 12 minute mark in the fourth quarter the lead was seventeen. Holding a seventeen point lead for a defense heralded as the greatest in recent years, is about as guaranteed as Donald Trump making headlines.
For awhile it seemed that today we’d be talking about how this team is regaining its championship form, how it is poised to make a run and get back to the dominance of years past. Yet 12 minutes and an overtime period later, we rewrite the script of the week and focus on not the good, but the overwhelming lack of finish this team has shown.
In five of the past seven games dating back to last season, this team has held fourth quarter leads and failed to hold them; Cincy, GB and STL this year, Super Bowl and NFCCG last year. A team whose message is “Its not how you start, but how you FINISH” , hasn’t been doing a good job of that as of late and it is a cause for concern. Its understandable that people pick sides in blaming the defense for giving up a lead or the offense for not padding nor managing the lead properly, but this doesn’t fall squarely on either side individually. Yes the defense had a 17 point cushion, but it didn’t get much help from the offense in that final quarter. The offense had 6 possessions in the fourth quarter and overtime, ONE first down, 72 TOTAL yards, six punts. The offense gave Cincinnati every chance it needed to get back into and eventually win the game. It failed to manage the clock at time where it was all the game called for. Instead of running on the many 3 and shorts it had it the fourth quarter, passes were thrown, sacks were taken, and execution was non-existent.
From the 12 minute mark on everything snowballed. Special teams gave up major field position on key punts, defense was put in bad spots and gave up costly penalties that in the end led to the loss. Coaching decisions were questionable; taking out Rawls for the first possession of the overtime period after racking up over 160 yards? Not too sure about that call. Also, Where’s Jimmy? In the game’s crucial moments either Russell isn’t going to him, play isn’t designed for him, or he isn’t doing his job, and for a premier tight end brought in to make plays it’s simply not good enough.
In spite of it all, at 12 minutes to go it was a seventeen point lead. The Seahawks failed to close the door, and the Bengals, as good teams do took advantage, and stole a win from Seattle.
What’s next? Well there needs to be some serious soul searching at the VMAC this week. At 2-3, the Seahawks have lost their margin for error. With 3 undefeated teams in the NFC and the Cardinals at 4-1 , there is no more wiggle room for the Seahawks if they intend to be playing deep into January this season. The 6 home games left are a must win. They then must manage what they can on the road the rest of the way to get at least 10 or 11 wins.
Is it impossible? No. Each year the team has started slow; 3-3 last year led to 12-4 and 2013 had a similar story. Seattle has always managed to play their best in November and December and getting to where they need to be.
The first three quarters of yesterday showed what this team is capable of doing. It was encouraging to see the running game get going, the offensive line getting back to respectability and the defense forcing turnovers and dominating one of the league’s best offenses for three quarters of the game. Unfortunately there are four quarters in football, and this team needs to get back to playing four quarters if it intends to do anything of relevance this season.
There should be concern, a little panic, but no reason to jump the ship. This team has proven before that they can get it right and go on a dominant run. This team has too much pride, talent, grit to let the season slip away. Its time for them to refocus, do a little soul searching and come out and right the ship. It has been said one learns more after a loss than a win. Well, we are about to learn a lot about this team after this week. How they respond at home against undefeated Carolina will be a signal of what’s to come.
It’s time for the Seahawks of old to please stand up. If they do, watch out.