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Monday metatarsal musings
To the best of our knowledge, Roseanne Roseannadanna was not a big football fan. But one of the more memorable lines from the character the late Gilda Radner played on “Saturday Night Live” pretty much summed up the Seahawks’ most recent Sunday:
“If it’s not one thing, it’s another.”
That was indeed the case in Sunday’s 28-24 loss to the Lions in Detroit – another oh-so-close setback that left the Seahawks 4-4 overall and 1-4 on the road. The offense not only scored 24 points, rookie quarterback Russell Wilson led a 12-play, 87-yard drive that ended with tight end Zach Miller matching a falling, one-handed grab in the end zone to give the Seahawks a 24-21 lead with 5½ minutes to play.
Ballgame, right? No way the Lions could drive the length of the field to tie the score with a field goal, and an even longer shot that they’d score a touchdown against a Seahawks’ defense that has played so well – and, at times, in suffocating fashion – this season.
Well, that’s exactly what happened. Sixteen plays. Eighty yards. Matthew Stafford to Titus Young from a yard out – on third-and-goal, and with 20 seconds left.
Now it was ballgame. And it was anything but all right.
The offense simply had not been productive enough in the previous road losses, scoring 16 points in the season-opening four-point loss to the Cardinals in Arizona; 13 points in the Week 4 six-point loss to the Rams in St. Louis; and six points in the seven-point loss to the 49ers in San Francisco in Week 7.
But against the Lions, they scored on a 77-yard run by Marshawn Lynch and Wilson’s TD passes to Sidney Rice (9 yards) and Miller (16 yards). The drive to Miller’s score tied for the second-longest of the season in terms of plays and was the third-longest in terms of yards.
On that drive, Wilson was 6 of 8 for 75 yards, including an 18-yarder to Rice on third-and-10; another 18-yarder to Rice to the Lions’ 40-yard line; a 6-yarder to Golden Tate on fourth-and-2; and the TD pass. Lynch added runs of 9 and 10 yards. Fullback Michael Robinson rammed his way for 2 yards on second-and-1. The Seahawks produced six first downs on the series.
It just doesn’t get a lot better than that.
And that’s a line that pretty much had been reserved for the Seahawks’ defense, which was ranked No. 1 in the league entering the Week 6 game against the New England Patriots. But in the past three games, the Seahawks yielded 475 yards to the Patriots, including 395 passing yards to Tom Brady; 175 rushing yards to the 49ers, including 131 rushing yards on 16 carries to Frank Gore; and 415 yards to the Lions, including 352 passing yards to Stafford.
The defense is now ranked No. 5 in the league as the Seahawks prepare for this week’s game against the Minnesota Vikings at CenturyLink Field to kick off the second half of their season.
If it’s not one thing, it’s another.
With that said, here’s a look at three things that worked against the Lions and three things that need work as the Seahawks get ready to play five of their final eight regular-season games at home:
Lynch – What could the Beast Mode back possibly do that he hadn’t already done in his first 35 games with the Seahawks, and especially the past 17 when he has run for more yards (1,698) than any back in the league?
Take a look at the 77-yarder. As Lynch took a pitch from Wilson and headed around the right side, it appeared like an easy first down. Look again, as Lynch breaks up the sideline – after getting big blocks from tight end Anthony McCoy, wide receiver Ben Obomanu and Robinson – and runs away from a foursome of Lions defenders. The back who has built his considerable reputation on breaking tackles, had just broken the longest run of his 5½-season career – by 21 yards.
Wilson – A lot of the blame for the Seahawks’ road woes had been dumped on the rookie QB, who had thrown all seven of his interceptions in the previous three losses. He served up No. 8 against the Lions, but that was a rare blip on his otherwise impressive afternoon.
Wilson completed 71 percent of his passes (25 of 35) for his second-highest yardage total (236). He completed passes to nine different receivers, including “explosive” gains of 18 yards to Rice (twice) and Tate and 16 yards to Miller and running back Robert Turbin.
Penalties – The Seahawks had two for 10 yards, continuing the improvement that has taken place since the real officials returned in Week 4.
Just check these previous totals: 13 for 90; five for 35; 14 for 118; five for 55; seven for 65; four for 35; and three for 20.
What needs work
Third-down defense – Stafford had the hot hand all afternoon, completing 34 of 49 for his 352 yards. But the guy was en fuego on third downs. As in 14 of 15 for 111 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for a score on third-and-1.
For the season, the Seahawks are allowing opponents to convert 43.9 percent on the pivotal down. Only five teams are allowing a higher percentage.
The pass rush – Part of the reason Stafford for was so efficient –and effective, not to mention productive – on third downs was that he had way too much time in the pocket. Part of the season for that was that the Seahawks played without rush-tackle Jason Jones, who missed the game because of an ankle injury.
But the Seahawks cannot allow any passer as much time as Stafford had. They did get to him for two sacks, one by linebacker Leroy Hill and the other by tackle Brandon Mebane. They did hit him seven times, including two by end Chris Clemons. But that was in 49 pass attempts.
Taking their show on the road – The Seahawks only have to do it once this month – Nov. 25 at Miami – because their next two games are at home and then they have their bye week. But after going 1-4 on the road in the first half, they need to steal a win or two in their three road games in the second half.
And to do that, they can’t allow the “If it’s not one thing, it’s another” line to apply to their performances against the Dolphins, Bears (Dec. 2) and Bills in Toronto (Dec. 16).