The Seahawks knew they were facing a challenge going against a Giants defense that had held its past three opponents to 20 or fewer points during a three-game winning streak.
The Seahawks did not, however, expect their offense to look as disjointed as it did over the course of Sunday's 17-12 loss that saw Seattle post season lows in points and average gain per play (4.7), commit two turnovers, and take five sacks for a loss of 47 yards.
The result of those offensive struggles, as well as a stretch of bad run defense in the third quarter that marred an otherwise strong defensive performance, was a home loss to the Giants, who came into the game with a 4-7 record and with their backup quarterback, Colt McCoy, starting in place of an injured Daniel Jones.
"This game was a defensive ballgame right from the get-go, and they played really, really tough and gave us a hard time all day long," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "We had trouble scoring and moving the football, and we were giving them trouble scoring and moving the football as well. It's just an uncharacteristic type of feeling that we're not putting any points on the board… Offensively, we just had trouble all day long. Give them credit, they've been playing really good ball, but I need to look at the film to see what the heck happened, why it was like that."
Led by Chris Carson's 65 yards on 13 carries, the Seahawks ran the ball pretty well on limited attempts, but between the five sacks of Wilson, and the Giants ability to take away the deep passing game, usually one of Wilson and the offense's biggest strengths, it was a tough day for an offense that got a field goal out of the opening drive, then didn't score again until late in the midway through the fourth quarter.
"We didn't move the ball," Carroll said. "We weren't making plays to change field position; we didn't chunk them at all. We actually ran the ball pretty well early, but throwing the ball was a struggle. We took some just monster losses in the sacks that just take you out—just totally challenged from there on."
On the lack of big plays in the passing game, the Seahawks had only four completions longer than 20 yards, the long being a fourth-quarter touchdown pass to Chris Carson. Wilson credited the Giants coverages for taking some of that away.
"I think they did a really good job of doing some stuff with their coverage, just trying to keep everything in front," Wilson said.
Sunday's game was statistically one of Wilson's worst of the year, but Carroll said that until he could do a deeper dive into the film and talk it over with Wilson and offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, he wasn't going to assign blame for the offense's struggles.
"I'm going to look at this game and break it down and figure it out, talk to Russ, talk to Schotty and get to the essence of it," Carroll said. "I'm not going to just throw out some thought right now randomly. I am really surprised that this is how we looked against this game plan that they had. I thought we could do a lot of stuff that just didn't happen for us. I need to see why and really break it down. I can't tell you right now."
But while Carroll wasn't assigning blame, Wilson knows he needs to be better than he was on Sunday for the Seahawks offense to get back on track.
"We've just got to be better we've got to be cleaner," Wilson said. "It starts with me. I've got to find ways to continue to get the ball to our guys and let them do their thing. I always start with me first, because you've got to look at yourself first."
And as ugly as things were at times Sunday, Wilson is confident the offense, which led the NFL in scoring for much of the season, will get back on track.
"There's no panic here," he said. "… I'm super confident about where we are, what we're doing. We've got to be cleaner."
Wilson went on to mention offensive weapons like DK Metcalf, Tyler Locket, Chris Carson and Carlos Hyde, saying, "We have everything we want. We have everything we need. Those guys are unbelievable players and I think for us, we've just got to stay on schedule, we've got to win situational football. That's part of this game. It is what it is, we didn't win the situational football today. But if you're asking me what I think of where we're going and what we're doing and how we're going to get there, it's what I always tell you guys every year: the reality is that it's a journey and it's a process and we're going to trust the process. We're going to trust our preparation. We're going to trust where we're headed. We have great team, not just a good team, but we have great team and we're getting better. It didn't feel like it today, but we are, and just keep having faith in where we're going and where we're headed. We can fix the things that we didn't do great today."
And while the offense's struggles are what stood out most in the loss, the defense had some rough moments in an otherwise strong performance. The Seahawks shut the Giants out in the first half and got another quick stop to start the second half, but then things began to shift dramatically when Wanye Gallman Jr. ripped off a 60-yard run on a play call that was the perfect counter to a Seahawks blitz, a big play that was followed by a 13-yard Alfred Morris run, then a 4-yard Morris touchdown. The Giants' next drive saw Gallman rip off runs of 13 and 23 yards on back-to-back plays, setting up another Morris touchdown, this time on a 6-yard pass from McCoy. Seattle's defense got back on track after that, but in a game where the offense struggled, that two-possession letdown was enough to make a big difference.
"I was really surprised that we weren't able to slow them down in the third quarter running the football," Carroll said. "They made some basic stuff and they got away from us, those two drives in there, they were able to get enough going, and that was the difference in the ballgame."
The Seahawks defense has made a pretty dramatic turnaround over the past few weeks, and Sunday's game was another strong overall performance, but it wasn't good enough because of those two drives, according to safety Jamal Adams, who had a team-high 11 tackles while recording another sack, giving him a team-leading 7.5 this season.
"That's not our standard," he said of the third quarter scores Seattle allowed. "That's not Seahawk football, that's not Seahawk defense. We weren't doing our job. When you don't do your job on defense and they're running the ball the way they were running it, efficient, you're going to have a long day."
But like Wilson with the offense, Adams is confident the Seahawks defense will clean up the issues that hurt them in this game and be better for it moving forward.
"We've got to get back to the drawing board, we've got to figure it out," Adams said. "We've got to put our chips back in and bet on ourselves, and we're going to continue to bet on ourselves. This is a tough loss. Obviously it's not what we wanted, but we'll figure it out, guaranteed. I guarantee we will figure it out."
The best photos from Seattle Seahawks vs. New York Giants at Lumen Field. Fueled by Nesquik.