The Seahawks offense was largely productive and successful during Sunday’s 20-15 win against the Washington Football Team. Scoring 20 points through the first half plus the first possession of the third quarter is an impressive feat against a top five defense.
In fact, Washington hadn’t allowed an opponent to score 20 points in more than a month. That production, coupled with standout play from the defense, powered Seattle to a 20-3 lead. The Seahawks had a clear objective to get the ball out quick in the passing game in order to combat Washington’s heralded pass rush. That led to Russell Wilson not being sacked once while being hit just three times. All of that is objectively positive.
But Washington scored back-to-back touchdowns to make it 20-15 while Seattle went scoreless for the final 28 minutes of the game. The WFT came within 23 yards of taking a late fourth quarter lead before L.J. Collier and Carlos Dunlap had consecutive game-saving sacks. During that 28-minute span, the Seahawks accumulated just three first downs and 47 yards of offense. That included a trio of three-and-outs and an interception on a fine play by Montez Sweat (tipped pass) and Da’Ron Payne (diving pick).
All of that is objectively bad and borderline concerning, unless you ask Pete Carroll, of course. Seattle’s head coach was adamant that there was nothing to worry about regarding the team’s offense sputtering down the stretch.
“You guys do that. You go ahead and be concerned. I ain't concerned at all,” Carroll said emphatically. “We did exactly what we wanted to do. We didn't want them to be a factor in this game, and to give up some yards and the stats and all that stuff, I ain't worried about that at all.”
Carroll’s trademark positivity doesn’t change the reality that Sunday’s game was another instance where the Seahawks had trouble putting an opponent away. That has been a consistent theme in recent years. It’s what transpired in Atlanta and Carolina last season, and against the Cowboys and Patriots a few months back.
Scoring that nail-in-the-coffin touchdown or forcing a clutch three-and-out isn’t easy. None of this is meant to trivialize winning games in the NFL. Every win should be appreciated as such. Ugly wins are still wins. But that doesn’t mean there can’t be lessons learned and areas of concern as well. The ability to put an opponent away when you’re up 20-3 should be a trait of a championship-caliber team.
Going scoreless for 28 minutes, gaining just 47 yards and holding on for dear life in the final seconds isn’t a sustainable recipe for winning. But again, Carroll scoffed at the notion that those 28 minutes from Wilson and Co. might be the slightest bit worrisome.
“I don't think there is anything that you can see in this that's negative,” he reiterated. “I don't see anything about it. And you guys can look for it but, I just don't see that. This was the game we wanted to play. It's almost the score we thought it might be and all of that, that it was going to be really tight and a championship match, and that's what it felt like.”
That’s an important point he just made. There’s zero shame in beating Washington 20-15. In fact, it should be a source of pride. Washington is a damn good football team, and Seattle beat them in their own house. But the journey to get to 20-15 is relevant.
Carroll did express his regret that the offense wasn’t better on third down. But that in and of itself is cause for some concern. The Seahawks were just 5-of-12 on third down against Washington and have now converted just 40% of their tries on the season. That ranks 24th in the NFL, which is suboptimal for what is otherwise a top five scoring offense.
Carroll didn’t have much of an explanation as to why Seattle has struggled so much in that area.
“I don't know,” Carroll said. “Just not hitting it as good as we'd like to. We're trying really hard. We're trying really hard. I don't know what the numbers were today, but we're trying really hard to convert every one of them. We just got to keep working at it. It would make the game so much easier.”
The Seahawks are a really good football team with the chance to win the NFC West in Week 16 and potentially make a run at the Super Bowl. They’re also a team with a few notable deficiencies that could prove to be their fatal flaw in January.
Both statements are objectively true, and there’s no harm in acknowledging each of them simultaneously, even if Carroll chooses not to.