Good, Bad, and Ugly: Seahawks downed by flags, defense suffers defeat
The Seattle Seahawks pushed the Dallas Cowboys to the limit in a game they came in as huge underdogs, but lost 41-35 on Thursday night to drop to 6-6.
Cowboys 41, Seahawks 35: Live Analysis | Big Plays | Recap | Stats
As the score indicates, there were some positives to the game, but Seattle has now lost three straight games and four of the last five.
So, shall we get started on this one?
The Good: The offense is playing its finest game in a long time.
Was it flawless? No. Was it, however, the greatest we’d seen in a long time? Sure thing.
For the third time this season, and for the first time since Week 3, the Seahawks scored more than 30 points.
Following a string of blunders in recent weeks, the Seahawks offense finally put together productive drives and found the end zone in a way that has been unusual for Seattle this season.
Geno Smith completed 23 of 41 throws for 334 yards and three touchdowns, as well as scoring once on the ground.
DK Metcalf caught all three of Smith’s touchdown throws for a total of 134 yards on six catches on eight targets.
Rookie Jaxon Smith-Njigba contributed to a successful return to his hometown, catching seven catches for 62 yards.
In Abraham Lucas’ first game back since Week 1, the offensive line performed admirably, and Smith was sacked only once and hit six times.
For the first time in ages, the Seahawks didn’t look absolutely clueless on third down, converting 9 of 14 attempts on the “money down.”
What makes Seattle’s offensive performance even more impressive is that the Cowboys were third in overall defense and fourth in scoring defense entering Thursday’s game.
Smith moving the offense up and down the field was a nice sight after an abysmal season for that unit. While it didn’t result in a win, the hope is that there will be much to build on with a long break ahead of a rematch against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, Dec. 10, who kept the Seattle offense out of the end zone in a commanding 31-13 win on Thanksgiving.
The Unfavorable: The Seattle Seahawks’ fourth-down struggles
The Seahawks were fortunate on third down. Fourth down was not one of them.
The Seahawks were able to keep the chains moving for the most part on Thursday, as seen by the fact that Michael Dickson did not have a single punt.
If you’re searching for a criticism of the offense that isn’t Smith’s interception in the third quarter (which Dallas did not convert into points), look no further than Seattle’s failure on fourth down three times. These failures occurred on the Seahawks’ final three possessions as well.
Running back Zach Charbonnet was stopped far short of the goal line on his first attempt with 7:04 remaining in the fourth quarter. Seven plays later, Dallas scored a touchdown and took the lead.
Smith was pressured early on the Seahawks’ next drive and threw the ball up for Jaxon Smith-Njigba, who was still pretty early into his route and didn’t see the ball until it was beyond him.
And on Seattle’s final drive, trailing 41-35 with a chance to win, there was either a misunderstanding with the blocking scheme or a faulty play call/design, as standout Dallas pass rusher Micah Parsons was left untouched, giving Smith little chance to find a receiver to move the chains.
When you add it all up, it’s a 0-for-3 day on fourth down in a game where even one conversion could have resulted in a Seattle victory.
The Bad: Lots of flags and defense
Before we get into a tough one for Seattle’s defense, let’s be clear: head official Clete Blakeman and his team should be ashamed of themselves.
That was one of the ugliest, most poorly managed officiating games you’ll ever see. It’s rare that both fanbases get so worked up about the guys in stripes, but that’s exactly what Blakeman and company did on Thursday. Excellent work.
Yes, the Seahawks and Cowboys are among the NFL’s most penalized teams. And, absolutely, there were some incidents that deserved to be punished. But, my goodness, 19 penalties for a total of 257 yards? And nearly all of the fouls were committed by defensive backs? Yeah, that’s a lot of fun, especially in primetime. That’s why we watch!
You have to let the guys play at some point. There were fewer flags in the fourth quarter, but it was a game in which officials left their mark early and often, making a lively back-and-forth game difficult to watch at times. Even Al Michaels and Kirk Herbstreit of the TV show found it amusing.
“We’ll take the rest of the night off.” During the third quarter, Michaels said, “We’ll let Clete Blakeman call the game.”
Moving on, how about Seattle’s defense, which we witnessed on Thursday?
Yes, penalties assisted the Cowboys’ offense, but that was true for both teams. It also doesn’t totally overshadow Seattle’s defense’s poor performance.
Dallas outgained the Seahawks by five yards (411 to 406) on 79 plays compared to Seattle’s 64. However, unlike the Seahawks, the Cowboys did not punt the ball. At all.
Dallas had 11 total drives this game, including one with kneel downs at the end.
The Cowboys scored nine times on the other ten drives.
The lone scoreless drive came after Smith’s interception, when the Cowboys went for it instead of trying a field goal from the Seattle 30 yard line.
We can debate about penalties until we’re blue in the face again, especially after this game. Those flags frequently had a direct impact on Seattle’s struggle to leave the field. But, as we’ve seen far too often since the end of the Legion of Boom era, Seattle’s opponents’ passing game appears to be far too easy.
CeeDee Lamb, the Seahawks’ star receiver, caught 12 catches for 116 yards and a touchdown, frequently finding space against the secondary.
Tight end Jake Ferguson received six catches for 77 yards and a touchdown against Jamal Adams, who appeared to be out of position in the end zone.
The Seahawks put some pressure on quarterback Dak Prescott, but he remained in command for practically the entire game, completing 29 of 41 passes for 299 yards, three touchdowns, and a two-point conversion.
If there’s one thing to take away from the defense, it’s that the Seahawks had four sacks and forced four field goals. Seattle bent but did not break on those drives, but the Hawks broke too often in this one to win.
The Seahawks are 6-6 and 0-3 to begin a difficult five-game run that could determine their season. They’ve already fallen to the Los Angeles Rams, San Francisco 49ers, and now the Dallas Cowboys in the last three weeks.
The Seahawks’ defense will need to turn the page big time next week against the San Francisco 49ers. Also, I hope that whoever is officiating the game keeps the yellow flags in their holsters more frequently than we saw in Dallas.