In a wild-card loss at Dallas, the Seahawks' running game finally faltered and kicker Sebastian Janikowski's injury affected the team's second-half strategy. Here are three quick takeaways from Seattle's season-ending loss.
The Seahawks’ playoff stay was a short one.
Here are three impressions from Seattle’s 24-22 wild-card loss to the Dallas Cowboys.
Dallas wins running duel
Second-year Seahawks running back Chris Carson entered Saturday’s wild card game with a streak of three consecutive 100-yard rushing performances. He was named NFC Offensive Player of the Month because of it.
But January was a new month. And on Saturday night, against the NFL’s No. 5 rushing defense, Carson managed a measly 20 rushing yards on 13 carries. As a team, the Seahawks produced just 73 rushing yards, three yards per carry and one rushing touchdown, a significant drop from their season average of 160 rushing yards per game and 4.8 yards per carry.
The Seahawks’ rushing woes contributed to Wilson and Co. converting just two of 12 third downs.
The Cowboys, meanwhile, ran for 164 yards and 4.8 yards per carry, and NFL rushing leader Ezekiel Elliott added a 1-yard touchdown plunge. Elliott totaled 137 rushing yards and 5.3 yards per carry, with the most memorable jaunt being a 41-yard run down the right sideline near the end of the first half.
When the Cowboys needed to seal the game by running the football in the fourth quarter, they did it. Dallas mounted an 11-play, 63-yard drive, draining 5:12 worth of clock, before quarterback Dak Prescott fell into the end zone from one yard out to give the Cowboys an insurmountable 10-point lead with 2:08 left.
The Seahawks entered Saturday’s game as the NFL’s premier rushing offense. They were beaten by a team that followed an eerily similar formula.
Cue the kicking drama
Sebastian Janikowski attempted a 57-yard field goal to close the first half on Saturday.
He missed the kick, but that wasn’t the worst part.
The Seahawks’ 40-year-old placekicker also suffered a thigh injury on the play, wincing in pain before eventually being helped off the field. He was ruled out for the remainder of the game, and rookie punter Michael Dickson — who has never attempted a field goal or extra point — practiced field goals during halftime.
The Seahawks made sure he didn’t try any in the game.
On fourth-and-5 from the Cowboys’ 39-yard line midway through the third quarter, Pete Carroll and Co. opted to go for it, and Russell Wilson connected with wide receiver Doug Baldwin — who tapped his toes in bounds along the sideline — for a 22-yard gain. After Wilson rushed for a 4-yard touchdown five plays later, the Seahawks attempted a two-point conversion and running back Mike Davis was able to dive up the gut and into the end zone to give Seattle a 14-10 lead.
Then, trailing 24-14 with less than two minutes left in the fourth quarter, the Seahawks again went for it on fourth-and-4 and Wilson hit J.D. McKissic for a seven-yard touchdown. Carson rushed up the middle for a successful two-point conversion.
In a losing effort, Janikowski’s absence significantly affected the Seahawks’ offensive strategy.
The Wilson-Lockett connection pays dividends
Russell Wilson had a perfect passer rating when throwing to Tyler Lockett during the 2018 regular season.
Very little changed on Saturday night.
After he threw for a whopping -8 yards in the first quarter, Wilson found Lockett on a deep crossing route for a 40-yard gain on the Seahawks’ second offensive play of the second quarter. The Seattle quarterback later dropped a rainbow along the sideline to a sliding Lockett for a 25-yard gain. And, if that was not enough, the fourth-year wide receiver added a 52-yard kickoff return with less than a minute remaining in the first half.
With less than two minutes left in regulation, Lockett again got loose for a 53-yard catch and run.
Lockett finished with four catches for a team-high 120 receiving yards. Unfortunately, he was one of the only Seattle skill players that made a significant contribution.