NEW ORLEANS—For the second week in a row, the Seahawks found themselves in a high-scoring, back-and-forth game on the road, but unlike a week ago when the Seahawks came out on top, they weren't able to finish things off against the Saints, with New Orleans using a big third quarter and a couple of big plays down the stretch to secure a 39-32 victory at the Caesars Superdome.
Here are seven rapid reactions to Sunday's loss, which dropped Seattle's record to 2-3:
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1. The defense continues to struggle stopping big plays.
As was the case a week ago, Seattle's defense showed signs of improvement early in this game, but as was also the case, the defense gave up too many big plays, particularly late in the game.
In a third quarter during which a lot went wrong for Seattle, running back Alvin Kamara set up a touchdown with a 54-yard catch-and-run on a screen pass, and as it would turn out that wouldn't end up being New Orleans' longest play of the second half. That took place in the fourth quarter when, not long after the Seahawks had battled back to retake the lead, Saints do-everything player Taysom Hill took a third-and-1 carry 60 yards for what ended up being the game-winning score.
Hill was a particularly big problem for the Seahawks, rushing nine times for 112 yards and three scores while also throwing a 22-yard touchdown pass.
2. The Smith-to-Lockett deep ball was dialed in on Sunday.
For all the things Geno Smith and the offense have done well so far this season, the one thing that hadn't been on display often was an over-the-top-of-the-defense deep ball. Well, on Sunday Smith hit a couple of those for touchdowns, both of them being beautifully-thrown passes over the middle of the field to Tyler Lockett.
Smith, who earlier in the game hit DK Metcalf deep for a 54-yard touchdown down the sideline, ended the first half by stepping up in the pocket before dropping a perfectly-thrown ball in the arms of Lockett for a 35-yard score.
Their next touchdown connection was even better, with Smith somehow finding Lockett despite good coverage for a 40-yard score.
For Smith, it was yet another strong game in a season full of them, with the veteran quarterback completing 16 of 25 passes for 268 yards, three touchdowns, no interceptions and a 139.7 passer rating.
Lockett, meanwhile, finished with 104 yards on five catches, and in the process moved past Shaun Alexander for the second most all-purpose yards in franchise history, trailing only Steve Largent.
3. The third-down magic was missing this week.
While the Seahawks were able to score a lot of points thanks to big plays, they didn't have as much success sustaining drives as they have in previous weeks. After going an impressive 9 for 12 on third down last week on their way to 48 points and 555 yards, the Seahawks were just 1 for 9 against the Saints.
New Orleans, meanwhile, went 8 for 14.
4. Almost nothing went right for the Seahawks in a decisive third quarter.
Thanks to a turnover late in the second quarter and a beautiful touchdown pass from Smith to Lockett, the Seahawks went into the locker room with a halftime lead and seemingly some good momentum, especially since they started the second half with the ball.
Unfortunately for the Seahawks, things turned quickly once the second half got underway. On the first play from scrimmage, DK Metcalf fumbled, a call that was upheld even though Metcalf's elbow looked to be down before the ball came out. With a short field, New Orleans got a touchdown, with another review going the Saints' way as what was initially ruled an incomplete pass on third down was changed to a Chris Olave touchdown reception.
The Seahawks had a chance to capitalize on a turnover, Tariq's third interception in as many games, but were unable to do anything with that drive—though an apparent touchdown pass to DK Metcalf was overturned by a holding call on rookie Charles Cross. New Orleans scored again to cap a big third quarter, a Taysom Hill touchdown pass that was set up by a 54-yard catch-and-run by Alvin Kamara on a well timed screen pass against a Seattle blitz.
The Seahawks were able to battle back and briefly take the lead in the fourth quarter, but the third quarter proved to be very costly.
5. Kenneth Walker III had his breakout moment.
The Seahawks unfortunately lost Rashaad Penny to an ankle injury in the third quarter, an injury that meant an increased role for rookie Kenneth Walker III. And walker seized his opportunity, carrying for 88 yards on eight carries, most notably breaking free for a 69-yard touchdown run that gave the Seahawks the lead midway through the fourth quarter.
And speaking of rookies…
6. The rookie corners keep making plays.
For the second week in a row, rookie corners Tariq Woolen and Coby Bryant both had a hand in forcing turnovers. Woolen, who last week had a pick-six against the Lions, record his third interception in as many games, while Bryant forced a fumble for the second week in a row, this time with Woolen recovering.
7. Al Woods is a very strong human.
Since rejoining the Seahawks last season, veteran defensive tackle Al Woods has been one of Seattle's top defensive players. In some games, Woods' solid play might get overlooked by the casual observer—such is the nature of that position—but on other days, like this one, Woods gets a chance to shine.
Woods started his day with a couple of violent run stuffs, and later added a sack that killed a Saints drive, and he finished with five tackles, his third time in five weeks recording five or more tackles.
Unfortunately, Woods was unable to finish the game due to a knee injury.
The Seahawks face the Saints in New Orleans for Week 5 of the season at Caesars Superdome on October 9, 2022. Game action photos are presented by Washington's Lottery.