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Seahawks Playoff Hopes Take A Hit In Week 17 Loss To Steelers

The Seahawks fell to the Steelers Sunday, a 30-23 defeat that hurt their playoff chances.

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For all the ups and downs this season has brought, the Seahawks put themselves in a good situation heading into Sunday's game against the Steelers—win their final two games and they're in the playoffs, regardless of what else transpired around the league.

But the Seahawks weren't able to take care of business on Sunday, falling 30-23 to a Steelers team also fighting for a playoff berth, and as a result the 8-8 Seahawks now need not only to win next week in Arizona to make the postseason, but they'll also need some help.

"We lost our control of it," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said of his team's playoff destiny. "We had control of it, and we gave that up today."

What was frustrating to Carroll and his team wasn't just the end result, but rather how the game got away from them. The Seahawks knew the Steelers were going to come into Lumen Field looking to run the ball, and yet Pittsburgh still found plenty of success, rushing for 202 yards on their way to a season-high 468 yards of total offense. Sunday marked the sixth straight game an opponent has rushed for at least 136 yards against Seattle, and the fifth time in six games that total has been over 160 yards.

"Really disappointing missing this opportunity right here, at home," Carroll said. "Everybody was ready. This was a great one, and we missed it. We weren't right on defense, in the running game again, so it's been repetitive. I see it. We played better in the second half, got 40 something yards in the second half but in the first half they had their way with it… The tackling just seemed like it was really off. Seemed like we just did not make the tackles that we had to, didn't knock the piles back like we'd like to. I really want to see the film and see where it was happening to guys other than scheme and make sure that I understand that issue well. Tackling wasn't good enough and we weren't efficient enough. We had shots. We had shots in the line of scrimmage, we had opportunities, and they won the battles better than we did."

Najee Harris led the physical rushing attack, gaining 122 yards on 27 carries and scoring twice, while Jaylen Warren added 75 yards and a score on 13 carries, and the Steelers were able to complement the running game with Mason Rudolph completing 18 of 24 attempts for 274 yards, including gains of 42, 37, 25 and 24 yards.

"We knew they were going to come out and run the football, and the game plan was to stop the run, but we didn't do it," said cornerback Devon Witherspoon. "They came out and they ran the football down our throat, and they were able to get into their play-action game after that, so it was just a tough day for us."

Added defensive end Leonard Williams, "They have a big emphasis on tough, mano a mano type of football, and controlling the line of scrimmage. We knew it was going to be that type of game, we practiced it all week, and obviously we came up short today. There's a lot of areas we need to clean up in the run game."

The Seahawks know now that the key is to put this loss behind them so they can put forth a better effort against a scrappy Cardinals team that is coming off a dramatic win over the Eagles. Like last season, the Seahawks need not only a Week 18, but also some help, so they'll go into this week doing all they can to hold up their end of the bargain.

"There's one game to go, and we don't know what the scenario is going to bring us," Carroll said. "We've been here before. I think it was last year, pretty much the same thing. We've got to go to Arizona and go play really well and get a win and see where that leaves us. I know there's stuff tonight and all that, but the particulars right now I don't care. We've got to go win the game and see what happens."

Said quarterback Geno Smith, "It hurts whenever you lose. We wanted to control our own destiny. Obviously, we can't do that anymore, but there's no time for us to feel sorry for ourselves. We've got another game to play. Still got a chance, still got an opportunity, so next week is going to be big for us. I think the message is to keep going, as always, to keep going and keep fighting."

Last season, the Seahawks closed their season with a Week 18 win over the Rams, then got the help they needed to make the playoffs when the Lions knocked off Green Bay. They'll hope a similar scenario can play out this time around, but know they have to take care of their own business for any other results to matter.

"I never imagined we'd be in this situation again, but here we are," Smith said. "What we can do is continue to fight, get ready for next week. Arizona played a great game today, came up with a win, and we know they're going to fight all the way to the end. Next week is not going to be an easy game. We've got to go out there in their place and make it happen. We're the type of team that's going to always bounce back. We've got the right leadership. We've got the right coaches, right players, and we're going to make it happen. We're going to find a way to make it happen."

Check out some of the best action shots from Week 17 vs. the Pittsburgh Steelers at Lumen Field on December 31, 2023. Game action photos are presented by Washington's Lottery.

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