Some quick observations after the Seahawks' 14-5 loss to the Buccaneers in Tampa. The defense kept Seattle in it, but the offensive line struggled all game.
Three observations after the Seahawks’ 14-5 loss to the Buccaneers in Tampa:
1. The Seahawks just didn’t play well.
They didn’t have starting safety Earl Thomas for the first time ever, and they played without starting cornerback DeShawn Shead and starting center Justin Britt and starting defensive lineman Michael Bennett and running back C.J. Prosise. Those are all big and valid losses, but beyond that, the Seahawks just didn’t play well against the Bucs.
They turned the ball over three times, and two of the turnovers were in crucial situations: Russell Wilson’s interception at the end of the first half took at least three points off the board and maybe seven. Jimmy Graham’s fumble in the fourth quarter not only took a likely three points off the board and wiped away valuable time. Wilson threw another interception in the final two minutes that officially closed the door on the Seahawks.
The Seahawks couldn’t flip field position, and they had those costly turnovers, and the offense had no rhythm.
It’s not that the Seahawks weren’t affected by all their injuries; it’s just that they still had a chance to win even without those key players and just didn’t play well enough.
2. The offensive line struggled big time, and the offense was bad on third down.
The Seahawks started three rookies along the line — undrafted free agent George Fant at left tackle, sixth-round pick Joey Hunt at center and first-round pick Germain Ifedi at guard. They were without starting center Justin Britt, their best lineman all season, and they replaced right tackle Garry Gilliam with Bradley Sowell in the first quarter because of his play, not because of an injury.
That’s the important context to understand why the Seahawks struggled so much, especially in the first half. The Bucs sacked Wilson four times in the first half. It felt like Wilson was under constant pressure, and running back Thomas Rawls had little room to work with.
Wilson completed only 52 percent of his passes and threw for 151 yards and two interceptions. It was his fewest yards, lowest completion percentage and most interceptions in a game this season. It was the first time in 20 games that Wilson had thrown more than one interception in game.
The Seahawks converted just one of their 11 third-down attempts, and Wilson was sacked six times and pressured plenty more.
The offensive line has played better lately, but this was a step back even when factoring in Britt’s absence. It’s one thing to not look as sharp, but the offense was shaky all day, and many of those problems started with the offensive line.
3. The Seahawks’ defense recovered from a rough first two series.
It felt like the Bucs might roll over Seattle’s defense after scoring pretty easily on the first two series of the game to take a 14-0 lead. But the defense settled down and looked more like the group that entered the game as the NFL’s toughest to score on.
The Seahawks held the Bucs scoreless on their final nine possessions and gave the offense chances time and again to get back in the game.
Even without Bennett, Thomas and Shead, the Seahawks ended up playing exactly the kind of game you’d expect from their defense. It was a good enough effort to leave Tampa Bay with a win, and it actually lowered Seattle’s season average of points allowed this season.