The big picture following the 44-34 defeat Sunday at Buffalo is that the Seahawks are still in good shape to accomplish all of their goals this season.
The Seahawks are still tied for the lead in the NFC, and they have just three games left against teams with winning records, two of those at home.
But on Sunday, they hardly looked like a team with legitimate aspirations of the Super Bowl, the defense appearing somehow even worse despite adding Carlos Dunlap and getting back Jamal Adams.
Russell Wilson played one of the most mistake-filled games of his career, as he did at Arizona two weeks ago, appearing at times to feel an increasing weight to carry the team, knowing the offense basically had to score on every possession for Seattle to have a chance.
Wilson will bounce back. Whether the defense will ever take the step forward it needs to on a consistent basis, though, is another matter — and we’re past the trade deadline, so for the most part, what you are seeing is what you are going to get on defense.
Seahawks fans have to hope Pete Carroll is right when he insists that better days are ahead for that side of the ball.
On to some horrid-looking grades.
Wilson now has turned the ball over seven times in three games and has thrown at least one interception in four of the past five games after throwing just five picks all of last season.
He officially was hit 11 times in the game, and that appeared to catch up to him as the contest wore on.
Both of his picks were of the “trying hard to make a play’’ variety, so he deserves some slack there. One of his two lost fumbles was, as well (he had just one fumble for the season before Sunday).
In a more perfect world, Wilson wouldn’t be put in as many disadvantaged situations. But he might also have to try to live to play another day a little bit more, too.
OK, so, another game without him made clear how much the Seahawks miss Chris Carson.
On a day when Seattle could really have used some time-consuming drives to keep the other offense off the field, the Seahawks couldn’t really get much of a running game going, with just 57 yards on 17 attempts and 35 on eight from the running backs in the first half.
DeeJay Dallas again got the start with Carson and Carlos Hyde out due to injuries but was taken out of the game for a while as Seattle went to Travis Homer and Alex Collins, possibly as a result of a couple of seemingly mental blunders (Dallas was fortunate to get away with an apparent illegal motion deep in Buffalo territory on the Seahawks’ first touchdown drive).
Homer is an effective third-down back, as his late 50-yard catch-and-run showed. But Seattle needs Carson to really be the offense it wants to be.
In one of the few bright spots on the day, DK Metcalf just kept on chugging, with seven receptions for 108 yards and a touchdown. But Tyler Lockett was held to 40 yards on four catches, and the rest of the production was spotty — David Moore had a 55-yard touchdown in the late going, but otherwise, Moore and Freddie Swain had two receptions on six targets for 16 yards.
It was the best day of the season for Jacob Hollister, who until two games ago had just two catches this season but had five for 60 yards Sunday to take advantage of some coverage issues by Buffalo’s linebackers. But Greg Olsen continues to not do a lot with 13 yards on two receptions.
It seemed to be one of the toughest days of the season for the line as Wilson was hit early, often and several times really hard — ultimately sacked five times with two turning into lost fumbles — while Seattle was not able to really establish a consistent running game, which appeared early to be a significant part of their plan.
The sacks were the most Wilson has taken this season.
Duane Brown has been dealing with a chronic knee issue and had to leave for a play in the third quarter and didn’t seem to play to the level he has much of the season.
And while blitz pickup has been a strength of the Seattle line much of the season, there seemed to be a few more mix-ups than usual on this day.
A really weird day for the Seahawks defensive line. Seattle had seven sacks after coming into the game with just 12 — 3½ by defensive linemen.
Newly acquired Carlos Dunlap was thrown right into the fire, in for the first series, and made his first big play with a sack that backed up the Bills after they recovered a fumble at the Seattle 23 early in the second half and had two quarterback hits.
Jarran Reed had his best game of the season with 2½ sacks — he had just one coming in.
But Seattle had to blitz way too much to get consistent pressure on Josh Allen, symbolic of the Seahawks’ issues getting a consistent four-man rush.
And while that worked for a little while, it didn’t late once the Bills adjusted and began throwing more screens and quick passes.
So good last week, Seattle’s linebackers were as complicit as the rest of the defense this week, beaten in coverage often early on. Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright each had sacks and some good moments. But there were a few misplays, such as when Wright missed a tackle on John Brown that helped the Bills get close to the 4 when he appeared bottled up about near the 10.
And first-round draft choice Jordyn Brooks didn’t have a stat of any kind, though the Seahawks appeared to mostly be in nickel against a Bills team that barely bothered to run it.
Simply put, as bad of a day in coverage for the Seattle secondary as might ever have been seen in the Carroll era.
The Bills threw it on almost every down early — a stunning 29 dropbacks to two called runs in the first half — undoubtedly hoping to initially test Seattle’s secondary, and then having no reason to stop throwing the way the game was going.
Quinton Dunbar, who has been dealing with a sore knee all year and is limited most days in practice, doesn’t appear to be anywhere near 100% and was beaten throughout in coverage and missed a few tackles. He eventually was replaced by Linden Stephens with Carroll saying he just couldn’t continue.
Jamal Adams, for all of his obvious rushing abilities — he had 1½ sacks — struggled in coverage and had the big illegal contact penalty on a third down in the fourth quarter that sparked the drive when the Bills went up 34-20.
Seattle needs to get Shaquill Griffin healthy and have its projected starting four playing together for a while. Or maybe Dunbar just needs to rest for a while to get better.
This was the first time all year the special teams were a negative.
The 60-yard kickoff return to open the game was the longest of the year against Seattle — the longest previously had been 30 — and set an unfortunate tone for the day.
Freddie Swain handled kickoff returns with David Moore banged up. But he made a rookie mistake when he brought one out from 2 yards deep in the second quarter but got only to the 15.