Russell Wilson looked good on offense, but the running game was held in check again. The defense kept the Falcons in check, but it couldn’t stop third-down conversions. And then there’s the special teams ...
Laid out by Atlanta nose tackle Grady Jarrett on a fake field goal that proved to be one of the turning-point plays in a 34-31 loss to the Falcons, Seattle tight end Luke Willson later laid out where he thinks things stand for the Seahawks.
“It’s a dagger,’’ he said of the loss, clinched when Blair Walsh’s 52-yard field goal that would have forced overtime came up just short with two seconds left. “But I don’t think the sky is falling. We’ve got to get healthy, got a division game next week (Sunday at San Francisco). We are still undefeated in the division. I know we are a game back of (the Los Angeles Rams). But they’ve got to come here still. So everything is right in front of us with six games to go.’’
That Seattle couldn’t quite complete the deal Monday meant mostly average grades.
Despite making a change in the backfield and going with Mike Davis as the starter — after he’d been on the practice squad all season — the Seahawks proved as dependent on Russell Wilson as ever.
Davis showed some early life, but he suffered a groin strain after rushing for 18 yards on six carries on another night when Seattle’s tailbacks again didn’t do a lot, combining for 50 yards on 15 attempts.
That left it to Wilson to again do almost everything. He rushed for a season-high 86 yards on seven carries and a touchdown. And he threw for 258 yards and two touchdowns.
He also tossed an early interception that led to a touchdown and lost a fumble on a sack that was returned for another.
You can’t fault Seattle for not targeting Jimmy Graham. Wilson threw his way 11 times with Graham tying a season high in receptions with seven and catching his seventh TD of the season, tying Seattle’s single-season record for tight ends.
While Seattle punted only once, it also was just 2 of 6 in the red zone, settling for four field-goal attempts.
The numbers in the first game without Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor look a lot better than the score might have indicated as the Seahawks gave up just 279 yards.
Atlanta averaged just 4.8 yards per play, almost a yard behind its season average — a stat the Seahawks surely would have taken before the game.
But Seattle also gave up 9 of 14 third-down conversions and a few too many big plays at key times.
“Third down was horrible today,’’ safety Earl Thomas said. “We’ve got to get better. It’s plain and simple. But we had new bodies out there. It’s the first time we got to work together in live action, so this is a great experience, but it’s only going to make us stronger.’’
Seattle’s pass rush was absent much of the night as Ryan was hit just four times and sacked only once.
Finally Tyler Lockett made the kind of impact that the Seahawks have been waiting for as he had returns of 57, 37, 39 and 39 yards in the first half alone and finished with 197 yards on five attempts.
There was also the good of a fumble recovery by Tedric Thompson on a kickoff that gave Seattle a short drive for a TD.
But Seattle also allowed a 50-yard return of the opening kickoff by Andre Roberts that led to Atlanta’s first touchdown.
And then there was the decision by Carroll to try the fake field goal at the end of the first half.
The Seahawks seemed to be chasing those three points for the rest of the game, with the failed Walsh kick at the end a fitting ending.