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Wanted: More points from red-zone possessions

Posted Oct 23, 2012

Few teams have kicked more field goals in the red zone than the Seahawks this season. But few teams also have scored fewer touchdowns in the red zone than the Seahawks during their 4-3 start. 


Michael Robinson was seeing red.

And it had nothing to do with the jerseys worn by his former team (the 49ers) when it hosted his current team (the Seahawks) on Thursday night at Candlestick Park. But the events of that game – the Seahawks’ inability to put the ball in the end zone for the first time this season – were at the root of Robinson’s discontent.

“We’re not scoring enough touchdowns,” the Pro Bowl fullback said after the team’s “Bonus Monday” practice that gave the Seahawks an early jump on their preparation for Sunday’s game against the Lions in Detroit. “We have to put the ball in the zone. Offensively, that’s why we’re out there – we’re out there to score points.

“Just getting these field goals, it’s not enough.”

IN THE ZONE

Here are the NFL leaders in field goals kicked inside the 20-yard line, as well as the teams that have scored the fewest touchdowns in the red zone:

Most Field Goals
Team (possessions)No.
Giants (32) 15
Texans (28) 11
Seahawks (18) 10
Patriots (31) 10
Vikings (24) 10

 

Fewest Touchdown
Team (possessions)No.
Chiefs (15) 4
Jaguars (10) 4
Seahawks (18) 6
Browns (13) 6
Bears (16) 7
Raiders (17) 7
Rams (17) 7

There is a rhyme to Robinson’s reasoning. In their first seven games, the Seahawks have had the ball inside their opponents’ 20-yard line 18 times. They have scored six touchdowns in the red zone, which ties for the second fewest in the league. They have kicked 10 field goals, which ties for the third-highest total in the league.

It’s this settling for 3’s rather than 6’s that is so unsettling for Robinson, and it’s hard to blame him when you look a little closer at the Seahawks’ red-zone dilemma.

“You’ve got to score touchdowns when you get in the red zone,” Robinson said. “Three points just isn’t going to do it.”

In the season-opening loss to the Cardinals in Arizona, the Seahawks kicked a field goal and scored a touchdown on their first two trips into the red zone. But on their final possession, with the Cardinals clinging to a 20-16 lead, rookie QB Russell Wilson threw six passes from the 13- and 4-yard lines and all fell incomplete. The Seahawks did get a first down on a pass-interference penalty on the first third-down situation, but still came away pointless.

In the Week 4 loss to the Rams in St. Louis, Marshawn Lynch scored on an 18-yard run to capitalize on the Seahawks’ first red-zone possession. But they then settled for Steven Hauschka field goals twice after reaching the 12-yard line in the third and fourth quarters. On the first, Wilson ran for 2 and 4 yards and Lynch for 2 before Wilson’s third-down pass to Sidney Rice was short. On the second, Lynch ran for 5 and 3 yards before Wilson was stopped for a 2-yard loss on third-and-2. It made for an eight-point swing in a six-point loss.

The Seahawks won their Week 5 game against the Panthers in Carolina, 16-12, but the outcome didn’t have to be that close. Again, they got a touchdown – on a 13-yard pass from Wilson to Golden Tate in the third quarter. But again, they settled for field goals after reaching the Panthers’ 4- and 18-yard in the first half.

Thursday night, in the seven-point loss to the 49ers, Hauschka kicked a field goal on the Seahawks’ only red-zone possession. But he also missed one after the Seahawks has reached the 49ers’ 33-yard line. That’s at least a seven-point swing.

Forget the light at the end of the tunnel. Is there a light out there that can lead the offense into the end zone more often?

“You’ve got to be optimistic about it,” Robinson said. “I think we’re going to start to get in the zone more just as (Wilson) starts to see the field more.

“But again, it’s just frustrating not getting in the zone. The whole point is to put the ball across the goal line, and we haven’t done that enough.”

With one more completion here, or one more broken tackle there, the Seahawks would be finding the end zone more from the red zone. And they could have picked up another win or two by doing it.

“All three of our losses, it left a sour taste in our mouths where we felt like we should have won the game had a couple of different plays went our way,” Robinson said. “I do definitely feel like we could have won every game, so we have a lot of room for improvement and we have to make those improvements. We have to start finishing games off.”

Game Rewind: Seattle Seahawks