It might feel over right now. 

That’s perfectly understandable. 

The team is 2-4, its superstar quarterback is out, and it plays in the NFL’s toughest division. Perhaps it is done. Maybe 2021 is a lost season. But there was a glimmer of hope from the Seahawks’ 23-20 loss to Pittsburgh on Sunday night. 

Geno Smith can play. 

No, Smith isn’t a legitimate replacement for Russell Wilson, the man on injured reserve due to a finger injury. He doesn’t have Wilson’s mobility, deep ball or experience in the clutch. 

But he put together a performance suggesting that maybe, just maybe, the Seahawks can string some wins together before the return of No. 3. 

“He was solid. He managed the game well. He gave us a chance to win the football game,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said of Smith after the game Sunday. “Unfortunately he gets the ball knocked out. … It kills him that he wasn’t able to finish it. But I thought he played tough as hell.”

Steelers 23, Seahawks 20 (OT)

More

Yes, Smith had the ball knocked out of his hands on the Seahawks’ last drive in overtime, a fumble that led to the Steelers’ game-winning field goal. It was a nightmare of an ending for a player who, just before that moment, likely thought he had a chance to lead a storybook, game-winning drive.

But there were plenty of moments Sunday that suggested Smith might just be the best backup quarterback in the league. Certainly not a title most quarterbacks dream of attaining one day, but one that might be true right now. 

Advertising

By game’s end, Smith was 23 of 32 passing for 209 yards and one touchdown. He also took five sacks, the kind of figure Wilson has become accustomed to enduring.

But he showed poise in a situation where most QBs are set up to fail. This team can still win games behind him. In the third quarter, Smith led a precise drive culminating in a touchdown pass to Will Dissly that brought the Seahawks to within three points. He engineered a nine-play drive at the end of regulation that ended in a tying field goal by Jason Myers. 

Were the highlights replete with Geno Smith passes? No. But he was a more-than-serviceable backup for a team facing dire circumstances. 

Let’s be real here: Things look bleak for the Seahawks right now. They are 2-4 and still have six games against their A-list divisional opponents. They also face the Saints and the Packers — who both have winning records — in two of their next three games. The only ostensible relief they’ll get is against the 1-5 Jaguars, but in the NFL nothing is a gimme. 

After the game, Smith assessed his performance.

“I can’t keep coming up short. I put that on myself,” he said. “Back-to-back weeks, our defense gives us a chance to score. Give me the ball. We don’t get it done. That’s solely on me. I vow to be better.” 

It’s hard to replace starting quarterbacks in this league. It’s damn near impossible to replace eight-time Pro Bowlers bound for the Hall of Fame. Wilson’s durability throughout his career has been one his premier assets. But for now he does have a viable replacement.

Advertising

These next couple games for the Seahawks will be crucial. Getting to the bye week at 4-4 might just give them a chance to make the playoffs. For that to happen, Smith is going to have to continue to be a solid — not spectacular, but solid — quarterback for this football team. 

The Seahawks showed something Sunday. Down 14 on the road, it would have been understandable if they packed it in and moved on to the next week. They didn’t. And Smith was a big reason. 

“To come out in the second half the way we did, it speaks to every man in that locker room,” Smith said after the game. “One thing I know about this team — we’re not going to hang our heads. We’re going to find a way to bounce back.” 

We’ll see if that’s true. The Seahawks have had rough starts to the season in the recent past but have found a way to sneak into the playoffs. Grim as things seem now, they still have the ability to do that again.

If they do, though, Smith will be one of the primary reasons. He has shown he has the ability to put points on the board. The question now is whether he has the ability to finish.