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SEATTLE — The Seahawks playoff hopes officially came to an end when the Atlanta Falcons finished off a victory over the Carolina Panthers Sunday afternoon. A few minutes later, Seattle’s chance at a 10-win season also came up short, as the Arizona Cardinals held on for a 26-24 win over the Seahawks.
Even if Blair Walsh’s final field goal attempt had been good to give Seattle a win, the result in Atlanta would have meant the Seahawks missing the postseason for the first time since 2011 and only the second time since Pete Carroll and John Schneider took over the team in 2010.
Here are five rapid reactions to a tough loss that has the Seahawks ending the season with a record of 9-7:
1. Offense Struggled To Get Going, Made Big Plays Late, But It Wasn’t Quite Enough.
Seattle’s offense couldn’t get much of anything going in the first half, managing just 24 yards, one first down and no offensive scores, but as that unit has done so many times this season, it responded well in the second half.
Russell Wilson and company opened the second half with a 10-play, 80-yard scoring drive that ended with an 18-yard Doug Baldwin touchdown reception. The offense scored twice more in the fourth quarter, including a two-play drive that covered 60 yards for another touchdown to give the Seahawks a lead in a game they trailed by 13 points at halftime.
With his two touchdown passes, Wilson finished the season with a league-leading 34 touchdown passes.
Unfortunately for the Seahawks, their final drive stalled out at the 30, and Walsh’s attempt missed wide right.
2. Doug Baldwin’s Feet Are A Regional Treasure.
When people talk about receiver, the traits you often hear about are size or speed or hands, but let’s all take a moment to appreciate Doug Baldwin’s feet. Whether it’s the footwork Baldwin uses to regularly embarrass defensive backs with his release off the line of scrimmage, or, as he showed off Sunday, his ability to get two feet in bounds when it looks like it shouldn’t be possible, Baldwin has some of the best feet in the game. Particularly impressive in this game was his toe drag in the end zone to secure a 29-yard score of a perfectly thrown pass from Russell Wilson that gave Baldwin a chance to make the spectacular play despite solid coverage from Patrick Peterson.
Baldwin finished his season just shy of a third-straight 1,000-yard campaign with 991 yards, but with two touchdowns Sunday, he finished with eight scores, the second most of his career (14 in 2015).
3. It Was A Mixed Day For The Defense.
Seattle’s defense, like the offense, struggled early, allowing 17 points on Arizona’s first three possessions, though two of those drives were aided by short fields.
From there the defense played very well, forcing five punts, one turnover and allowing two field goals until late in the fourth quarter. The Cardinals, aided by a roughing the passer call after an incomplete pass on third down, were able to put one more drive together, however, going 62 yards for what ended up being the winning field goal.
4. Shaquill Griffin Has A Very Bright Future.
One of the more encouraging developments for the future of Seattle’s defense has been the play of rookie cornerback Shaquill Griffin, who held down the starting job at right cornerback for nearly the entire season and played very well throughout the year.
On Sunday, Griffin wrapped up his rookie campaign with a game that included his first career interception, six tackles and two passes defensed, including an impressive pass breakup on a third-down pass to Larry Fitzgerald. That play was big not just because Griffin made a nice play on a pass intended for a likely future Hall of Famer, but also because the Seahawks scored a touchdown on the ensuing possession.
5. Tyler Lockett Can Still Fly.
When the Seahawks hosted Arizona last season, Tyler Lockett’s season came to an end thanks to a rather gruesome leg injury. More than a year later, his first touch against the Cardinals at CenturyLink Field was a 99-yard kick return for a touchdown. It was Lockett’s first return touchdown since he returned both a kickoff and a punt for touchdowns as a rookie in 2015, and a good sign that Lockett is getting back to his former self after a season that Seahawks coach Pete Carroll has said was, “a challenge for Tyler.”
Lockett, who also had an impressive 27-yard punt return in the fourth quarter, not only had to deal with a long rehab process to get back from that leg injury in time for the season opener, but he also battled a knee injury this summer. As a result of all of that, Lockett hasn’t always quite looked the same this season, but with that big return early in Sunday’s game, he served notice that he still has elite speed.