Seattle Seahawks

Seattle Seahawks

Seattle's season ended with a thud Saturday night when the Seahawks lost 24-22 at Dallas in the NFC Wild Card round of the NFL playoffs. 

The game featured numerous key moments that contributed to the team's loss but there were several uncharacteristic performances that hurt Seattle's chance of winning. Here is a report card of the Seahawks' performance:

Offensive line: D

They say strong running games travel well in the NFL playoffs. If that's the case, Seattle simply didn't bother to pack theirs and the offensive line failed to get the job done on Saturday.  

That's a shame given how far this group had come this season and how it helped the Seahawks lead the NFL in rushing.
Seattle rushed for 73 yards on 24 carries with the running backs gaining 59 on 21.

That overall production was well below the team's 160 average and short of the 113 the Seahawks gained on Dallas in Week 3.

Saturday's poor rushing performance greatly contributed to the team converting on just 2-of-13 third-down attempts. 

Left tackle Duane Brown said Seattle knew that Dallas would do a lot of stunts in order to throw Seattle's linemen off of their blocking targets, and it worked.

 

"They were very good at it and we just weren't efficient in adjusting to it," Brown said. "Nothing that surprised us. They'd been doing it all year."

Brown added that Seattle didn't live up to its billing as a power running team. 

"I take my hat off to their defense," Brown said. "They played a very good game. But us up front, we created an identity of being a physical team and running the football and we weren't able to do that today."

 

Front seven: C-

Let's lump both the defensive line and the linebackers into this one.

Seattle had to control Dallas' "triplets" of QB Dak Prescott, RB Ezekiel Elliott and WR Amari Cooper. The Seahawks failed. 

Elliott rushed for 137 yards and one touchdown, Prescott passed for 226 yards, threw for one touchdown, rushed for 29 yards and a rushing touchdown, and Cooper had 106 yards on seven receptions. 

The 29 rushing yards for Prescott might not seem like a lot but 14 of those yards ultimately decided the game.

With Dallas leading 17-14 and just over two minutes remaining in the game, the Cowboys faced a third down and 14 at the Seattle 17-yard line. As if the Cowboys had planned to kick a field goal, they ran a quarterback draw. But Prescott managed to gain 16 yards on the play to set up his one-yard scoring run that gave Dallas a 24-14 lead that Seattle did not have time to overcome. 

That play alone warranted a poor grade for Seattle's front seven, which registered just two tackles for loss and one sack on the night. Still, the group did not play awful football given that it kept the team in the game despite the poor play by Seattle's offense. 

Nevertheless, allowing Elliott to have a big game helped Dallas win the field position battle. 

“It’s bad. It’s so simple too," said Seattle linebacker K.J. Wright, who had a key interception in the fourth quarter. "I hate that we can’t watch the film and come back next week. It is just something that is easy. And you just have to pick up those easy plays in order to win these football games.”

 

Wide receivers: B
 

Where would Seattle have been without wide receiver Tyler Lockett, who caught four passes for 120 yards, 40.1 percent of the team's total output of 299?

The problem was that Seattle probably didn't turn to the passing game often enough, which limited Lockett's potential impact and certainly contributed to Doug Baldwin having just 33 yards.

When Seattle struggled rushing the football in a game this season at Carolina, a team with a top-10 rushing defense like Dallas', the Seahawks put the game in quarterback Russell Wilson's hands and he threw for a season-high 339 yards in a 30-27 win. Wilson passed for 233 at Dallas. 

Granted, Seattle began with minus 15 yards passing in the first half thanks to a screen pass that lost eight and a sack. But, after that, Seattle got the passing game rolling but still remained committed to the run game. 

One caveat to all of this is that the team mostly threw on third downs and converted on just 2-of-13 attempts. 

But one wonders what might have happened had Seattle allowed Wilson and his receivers to go gangbusters in this game.