Takeaways from Seahawks 17-14 loss to Washington

posted by Curtis Crabtree - 

Washington Redskins Seattle Seahawks

SEATTLE -- This was a bad loss for the Seahawks.

The Washington Redskins were playing without left tackle Trent Williams, left guard Shawn Lauvao, center Spencer Long, wide receiver Jamison Crowder and tight end Jordan Reed. Washington's offensive line was such a patchwork unit that Redskins head coach Jay Gruden literally struggled to recall the names of everyone who played on the line for his team Sunday. The Seahawks held Washington to 51 yards rushing and had a season-high six sacks defensively.

And they lost.

In an sloppy, ugly football game, the Seahawks did too much to derail their own chances with penalties, turnovers and mistakes. 

Russell Wilson nearly helped Seattle pull a rabbit out of its hat once again, as he has so many times over his six seasons with the Seahawks. Instead, Seattle dropped a winnable game at home that drops them out of the division lead in the NFC West and two games behind the Philadelphia Eagles in the race for the top seed in the conference.

Here are five takeaways from Sunday's loss to the Redskins:

1. Penalties, penalties, penalties. 

The Seahawks have never been particularly tidy when it comes to controlling penalties under Pete Carroll. Michael Bennett jumping offsides on the first scrimmage play of the game was probably a good indication Sunday wasn't going to be a change in the norm either. 

However, the Seahawks instead came exceedingly close to setting new franchise records for penalties.

Seattle was flagged 16 times for 138 yards against the Redskins. The Seahawks were penalized 11 times offensively, with an illegal shift declined by Washington. Three holding penalties, three false starts, three pass interference calls (two offensive and one defensive), a roughing the passer, an unnecessary roughness, an illegal substitution, an offsides and three special teams penalties. 

"I think we're going to turn this film on tomorrow and I think we're going to see that we moved the ball. I don't know how many penalties we had on offense but I thought we had a lot of self-inflicted wounds today. Yeah, it's frustrating," tight end Luke Willson said.

Seattle had offensive penalties on six of 10 offensive possessions through the first three quarters. Five of those penalties came on Washington's half of the field, setting the Seahawks back from possible scoring opportunities, All 10 offensive penalties forced Seattle to need at least 14 yards for a first down conversion.

"I'm just really disappointed tonight because we've been addressing it and we haven't cleaned it up," head coach Pete Carroll said. "That really bugs me."

The franchise record for penalties was 17 flags against the Green Bay Packers on Oct. 21, 1984. The most penalty yards assessed was 145 yards against the Denver Broncos on Dec. 8, 1979. They were one penalty and seven yards away from matching the worst penalty performances in team history.

"It's terrible," right guard Oday Aboushi said. "We beat ourselves today. That's what it comes down to. The penalties is what got us and that's that."

2. Blair Walsh has created a problematic situation for Seattle.

It took until the eighth game of the season, but Walsh finally had a serious clunker with the Seahawks.

Walsh missed all three of his field goals attempted Sunday against the Redskins. He missed from 44, 39 and 49 yards with all kicks missing wide left.

"Those kicks were all makeable," Walsh said.

It's the sixth time in franchise history a kicker has gone failed to make a field goal on at least three attempts. Steven Hauschka was the last Seattle kicker to miss three field goals in game, going 0-for-3 on the road against the Arizona Cardinals in 2014. John Kasay (at Pittsburgh, Dec. 6, 1992), Norm Johnson (at Cincinnati Nov. 16, 1986, at New York Jets Oct. 27, 1985) and Don Bitterlich (Sept. 26, 1976) missed each of their three attempts as well.

"I'm disappointed for him," Carroll said. "He had trouble in pregame, when it was blowing. The weather was kind of nasty early on. I'm disappointed for him. If we had a shot, I was totally counting on him to kick the game-winner. I wasn't thinking anything but that."

Walsh had converted 12 of 13 field goal attempts and 17 of 18 extra points tries through the first seven games of the season before Sunday's struggles. In a three-point loss, the missed field goals were all the more vital. When Hauschka missed his three field goals against the Cardinals, it was a minor blip in a 35-6 Seahawks victory. That's not the case for Walsh.

"Not good," Walsh said of his feelings after the game. "Didn't help my team today, that's for sure. The thing is though this is the first time this year where I haven't really come through and I got to remember that. As much as it sucks and as much as I want to be there for my teammates and help us win, I've got to remember I'm capable of doing good things here.

"I wanted a last chance that we had there but obviously it didn't work out that way, but for me it's just go on to the next game. Thursday comes up quick and I'll be ready to go."

3. Bobby Wagner is having his best season.

Wagner may be having the single best season of any player on Seattle's roster.

The two-time first-team All-Pro selection appears to be well on his way to another appearance on the All-Pro team this year. 

Wagner erased Washington running back Chris Thompson from the game on Sunday. Thompson entered the game as the Redskins leading rusher and leading receiver. He was a virtual non-factor with 20 yards on four carries and four catches for 11 yards.

Wagner had 12 tackles, a sack, two quarterback hits, three tackles for loss and a pass defender against the Redskins on Sunday. His sack of Kirk Cousins for a safety provided Seattle with its only scoring until the fourth quarter. 

He's playing as well as any linebacker in the league this season. His performance is a little bit lost in the losing outcome of the game against the Redskins, but Wagner remains an incredible player to watch each week.

4. Playing man-to-man defense on final drive comes back to bite.

After Doug Baldwin's 30-yard touchdown gave the Seahawks the lead with 1:34 remaining, Seattle had to stop Washington from driving 70 yards for the go-ahead score. It took just two big plays for Washington to cover 69 of those yards to set up Rob Kelley's 1-yard touchdown run with 59 seconds remaining.

On both big plays, the Seahawks were burned playing press man-to-man defense. Justin Coleman was beat by Brian Quick for a 31-yard gain as a five-man pressure was just late in getting to Cousins. Washington came back on the next play with a 38-yard pass from Cousins to Josh Doctson, who beat Shaquill Griffin up the sidelines.

Man coverage allows for more flexibility with blitzes and pressures. However, it leaves the potential for big plays if a defender isn't able to stick with his assignment. Both plays were completions on deep passes where the cornerback was beat right at the line of scrimmage.

The Seahawks could, theoretically, have gotten away with these mistakes if Earl Thomas was playing free safety was able to save the day coming from the middle of the field to help. While Bradley McDougald had a solid game, he's not Earl Thomas from a speed and reaction standpoint.

The decisions to play tight man coverage backfired in the closing stages of the game.

5. Dwight Freeney showing he's got a little left in the tank.

The 37-year old Freeney was brought in last week to add to Seattle's pass rush.

In the last two games, the Seahawks have racked up 11 sacks with Freeney managing three of his own. Freeney was initially credited with just a half sack of Deshaun Watson last week, but it was revised to a full sack by the league this week. Freeney added two more sacks of Cousins on Sunday as he's moved into 17th on the all-time sack list ahead of former teammate Robert Mathis.

"This is one of the reasons why I came back," Freeney said. "You have those nights were you just wake up in a cold sweat because you're thinking about the quarterback and you want to get there and I've finally got an opportunity here to do so these last few weeks."

Freeney had just three sacks all of last season with the Atlanta Falcons in 15 games. In two weeks, he's already matched that total. Seattle had been ranked in the bottom third of the league with just 12 sacks through the first seven weeks of the season. 

The two-week surge has moved the Seahawks into the top 10 in the league with sacks after Sunday afternoon's games.

Photo Credit: SEATTLE, WA - NOVEMBER 05: Kicker Blair Walsh #7 of the Seattle Seahawks reacts after missing his third field goal of the first half against the Washington Redskins at CenturyLink Field on November 5, 2017 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

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