Final (OT) | Steelers 23, Seahawks 20
5:20 p.m. | Heinz Field | Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
TV: NBC | Radio: 710 AM/97.3 FM | Stream: NFL Game Pass
Report card: Bob Condotta grades the Seahawks’ Week 6 loss to the Steelers
PITTSBURGH — To be sure, there was lots of good to go around in a game in which the Seahawks mostly played the kind of football they will need to survive loss without Russell Wilson for any length of time.
But Geno Smith’s one big mistake — a fumble that led to a 23-20 overtime victory — will be hard for Seattle to shake off as the Seahawks fall to 2-4 and dig a further hold in the NFC West.
Late fumble dooms the Seahawks in 23-20 overtime loss to Pittsburgh
PITTSBURGH — In seconds, it turned from the potential of one of the more improbable wins in recent Seattle history to what felt like a sadly inevitable loss.
The Seattle defense had played its best game of the season and the offense had recovered from a shaky beginning to show a balance it hadn’t this year with Geno Smith showing the kind of poise in the clutch the team lauded all week as a reason it had kept him for three years to back up Russell Wilson.
And then in a flash the ball and the game were gone and the 2021 season thrown into further disarray.
Three things we learned from the Seahawks’ devastating overtime loss in Pittsburgh
PITTSBURGH — In the first game in a decade without star QB Russell Wilson, the Seahawks’ stirring comeback came up short in a 23-20 overtime defeat to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday night at Heinz Field.
The Seahawks fall to 2-4 and four full games out of first place in the NFC West.
Seahawks fail to take advantage of fumble, will punt back to Steelers
The drive: Three plays, minus-4 yards, 1:47.
Next possession: Steelers will start at own 20.
Time left: 9:45 in 4Q.
Third quarter impressions
The Collins comeback
The Seahawks scored their first points of the game on the opening drive of the second half, marching 75 yards on 10 plays to cut their deficit to 14-7.
Of their 10 plays, nine were runs — and eight of those were handoffs to Alex Collins, who gained 61 yards and capped the drive with a 2-yard TD run.
The Seahawks are back in this, and they’re doing it without their starting backfield of Russell Wilson and Chris Carson.
Hello, tight ends
The Seahawks enter the fourth quarter with a chance to somehow steal this game, and that’s thanks in part to their tight ends.
We haven’t been able to call the names of the tight ends much this year.
Gerald Everett broke a couple tackles on a 41-yard catch-and-run down to get the Seahawks down to the Pittsburgh’s 2-yard line, and Will Dissly caught his first TD pass of the season on a 1-yard throw from Geno Smith to pull the Seahawks within 17-14.
Everett was eager to get back on the field after sitting out the Rams game while still on the COVID-19 restricted list.
Where’s the pass rush?
Could it be that we’re watching Darrell Taylor blossom into a star for this Seattle defense?
The young edge rusher got to Ben Roethlisberger on third down late in the third quarter, forcing an incomplete pass and prompting a Steelers punt. Credit to D.J. Reed for a nice pass breakup on the play too.
Up until that point, the Seahawks had zero — that’s right, zero — hits on Big Ben, and that’s a big problem.
The Seahawks will need more pressure on the QB if they’re going to pull off this comeback.
Seahawks force Steelers into punt
The drive: Three plays, 3 yards, 1:37.
Next possession: Seahawks start on own 42.
Time left: 1:25 left in 3Q.
Seahawks showing signs of life with another TD drive
The scoring play: Seahawks QB Geno Smith hit TE Will Dissly for a 1 yard touchdown.
The drive: Six plays, 60 yards, 2:44.
The score: Steelers 17, Seahawks 14; 3:02 in 3Q.
Steelers drive to red zone, settle for field goal
The scoring play: Chris Boswell hit a 27-yard field goal.
The drive: 10 plays, 66 yards, 4:09.
The score: Steelers 17, Seahawks 7; 5:46 left in 3Q.
Seahawks ride Alex Collins to first TD of game
The scoring play: Seahawks RB Alex Collins punches in a 2-yard touchdown.
The drive: 10 plays, 75 yards, 5:05.
The story: The Seahawks are still in this thing! Consider the run established, with nine rushes on Seattle's first scoring drive of the game.
The score: Steelers 14, Seahawks 7; 9:55 in 3Q.
Steelers take lead with dominant second quarter
The first quarter could not have been more even — the game was scoreless and each team had 56 yards.
But that table turned in the second as the Steelers went on two methodical scoring drives to take a 14-0 lead while Seattle had just one first down in the quarter.
The Steelers had a 121-9 edge in yards in the second quarter as the Seahawks ran just 10 plays, averaging 0.9 yards per play.
Two sacks for a loss of 16 yards contributed greatly to that stat.
Seattle will get the ball first to start the second half, and it feels like it's already desperation time for the Seahawks.
Special teams letdowns
The Seahawks have usually gotten the better of things in the punting game this year.
But they had two mistakes in the first half — a failure to down a ball at the 1-yard line in the first quarter and then a shanked punt for just 24 yards by Michael Dickson in the second.
The Dickson punt put the Steelers at their own 46 instead of potentially inside their 20 or so if it had been a usual Dickson punt, and the Steelers used the good field position to drive for their first touchdown.
No Lockett involvement
Tyler Lockett had 12 catches for 278 yards in the first two games of the seasons for what was the best two-game start in team history.
But he has been more muted since with 13 catches for 112 yards in the past three games.
And that trend continued in the first half as Lockett had no catches on two targets.
Geno Smith appeared to want to go deep to Lockett on a first down play in the second quarter. But Lockett was double covered and Smith was then sacked.
Seahawks took timeouts ... just to punt back to Steelers again
The drive: Three plays, minus-8 yards, 0:28.
The story: The Seahawks took timeouts to preserve time last drive ... just to punt again. This is bad.
Next possession: Steelers start on own 41.
Time left: 0:36 left in 2Q.
Steelers punch it in again for another TD
The scoring play: Steelers TE Eric Ebron took a jet sweep to the left to rush for a 1-yard touchdown.
The drive: 14 plays, 84 yards, 6:59.
The score: Steelers 14, Seahawks 0; 1:04 in 2Q.
Steelers defense again forces Seahawks to punt
The drive: Four plays, 6 yards, 1:58.
Next possession: Steelers start on own 16.
Time left: 8:03 in 2Q.
Steelers strike first with Najee Harris TD
The scoring play: Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger completes a short pass left to RB Najee Harris for a 5-yard touchdown.
The drive: Eight plays, 54 yards, 4:10.
The story: Michael Dickson's errant punt comes back to haunt the Seahawks as the Steelers took advantage of the short field.
The score: Steelers 7, Seahawks 0; 10:01 left in 2Q.
Stop us if you've heard this before ... Seahawks punt again
The drive: Three plays, 9 yards, 1:24.
Next possession: Steelers start on own 46.
Time left: 14:11 in 1Q.
First quarter impressions
Scoreless so far
It’s scoreless through one quarter here in Pittsburgh, and count that as a win for Seattle’s defense.
In their first three drives, the Steelers have two first downs and 56 total yards — and zero points.
The Seahawks have introduced a new third-down package feature seven defensive backs — with Ryan Neal, Ugo Amadi and Marquise Blair on the field together, with the regular starters.
Rookie Tre Brown, who came off injured reserve last week, made his debut during Pittsburgh’s third drive, replacing Sidney Jones.
Jamal Adams unleashed
Jamal Adams wanted to blitz more.
And he’s getting his wish so far.
Adams, Seattle’s strong safety, blitzed four times in the first quarter — twice as many blitzes as he had in the entire game agains the Rams last week.
So that’s good news for Adams.
The bad news? He still doesn’t have QB hit this season, much less a sack.
So that’ll continue to be a key area of the defense to watch as this game unfolds.
Geno Smith holding his own
Geno Smith has been … fine.
In his first start for the Seahawks, Smith was 5-for-7 in the first quarter for 37 yards. Of those 37 yards, 27 went to Travis Homer on a third-down play in which the running back took a check down pass and broke several tackles to pick up Seattle’s first first down on the second drive.
This is a formula the Seahawks can win with without Russell Wilson — a safe, take-what-the-defense-gives-you performance from Smith. They don’t need him to win them the ball game, and they certainly can’t afford any bad turnovers from him tonight.
Seahawks defense again forces Steelers to punt
The drive: Six plays, 15 yards, 4:20.
Next possession: Seahawks start at own 21.
Time left: 0:35 in 1Q.
Seahawks get a few big plays, punt from Steelers' 38
The drive: Seven plays, 51 yards, 3:09.
The story: The Seahawks actually got a drive rolling there for a bit, including a 27-yard catch-and-run by Travis Homer. But they stalled at the Steelers' 38, and opted to punt instead of going for it or kicking a field goal into the wind — and ended up with a touchback.
Next possession: Steelers start at own 20.
Time left: 4:55 in 1Q.
Steelers punt back to Geno Smith and Seahawks
The drive: Five plays, 18 yards, 2:10.
Next possession: Seahawks start on own 16.
Time left: 8:04 in 1Q.
Seahawks go three-and-out on first drive
The drive: Three plays, 8 yards, 1:15.
Next possession: Steelers start at own 31.
Time left: 10:14 in 1Q.
Seahawks force three-and-out on first possession
The drive: Three plays, 7 yards, 2:41.
Next possession: Seahawks start on own 10.
Time left: 12:19 in 1Q.
Carson battling 'inflammation' in neck
Seahawks GM John Schneider said on the team’s pregame radio show on 710 ESPN Seattle that the Seahawks decided to place running back Chris Carson on injured reserve because he is suffering from inflammation in his neck.
“That’s not really anything you want to mess with ever, so we thought we’d give him the next couple of weeks here and hopefully everything calms down," Schneider said.
Schneider reiterated what coach Pete Carroll said Friday that the Seahawks expect Rashaad Penny to come off IR next week.
But with both Carson and Penny out the Seahawks had just three running backs available for the Steelers — Alex Collins, DeeJay Dallas and Travis Homer.
Russell Wilson with team in Pittsburgh
Russell Wilson’s streak of 149 consecutive regular season starts came to an end when he was put on the injured reserve Friday, assuring he has to miss at least three games.
But that doesn’t mean Wilson is invisible this weekend.
Wilson made the trip to Pittsburgh with the team and took to the field more than two hours before the game to get in a workout, practicing rollouts and dropbacks without a football, and with the middle finger on his right hand wrapped. At one point, Wilson did a mock two-minute drill, feigning throwing passes and running to the line and getting another snap and running another play.
Wilson also then watched closely as quarterbacks Geno Smith and Jake Luton threw passes during pregame warmups and then took part in a group huddle of the offense at the end of the early portion of warmups.
L.J. Collier inactive again
Among Seattle’s six inactive players for Sunday’s game was defensive end L.J. Collier, the team’s first-round pick in 2019 who has now been inactive four times in six games.
Seattle’s other inactives for the Steelers game were offensive linemen Cedric Ogbuehi, Stone Forsythe and Dakoda Shepley, tight end Tyler Mabry and cornerback John Reid.
Ogbuehi was scratched due to a biceps injury. The others were healthy inactives to get the roster down to the gameday maximum of 48.
Collier was active for the game against the Rams when he got the nod ahead of Robert Nkemdiche. Collier played 19 snaps and had two tackles and a quarterback hit, and defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. said this week that Collier had gotten the nod ahead of Nkemdiche in part due to how he practiced.
“It was good competition," Norton said. “I think that really comes into play what’s done on our practice field. Two good football players wanting to play. They both want to be on the field. As it goes back and forth, who practices the best, who comes early, who grades out in practice the best, and then we’ll see what happens on game day."
But while Norton said he thought Collier “was effective" against the Rams, the Seahawks went back to Nkemdiche against the Steelers.
Among Seattle’s active players is offensive lineman Ethan Pocic, who was activated off IR this week, as well as rookie cornerback Tre Brown.
Everybody focusing on somebody besides Russell Wilson playing QB for Seahawks may be missing the real issue
RENTON — When Geno Smith takes the first snap Sunday at Pittsburgh it will mark the first time in 3,608 days someone other than Russell Wilson will have started a game at quarterback for the Seahawks.
And this week, middle linebacker Bobby Wagner, who like Wilson joined the Seahawks in 2012, came up with maybe the most fitting description of what it will be like to see someone start for the Seahawks at the game’s most important position.
“It’s definitely foreign territory,’’ Wagner said.
But if Smith stepping in for Wilson — who has started every Seahawks game since Jan. 1, 2012 — is the obvious storyline, it’s not just the quarterback situation where the team is verging into rare and potentially uncomfortable ground.
Even with Wilson starting the first five games, the Seahawks are 2-3 and for the second consecutive season fielding a defense that is opening the year as among the worst in the NFL.
What to watch for when the Seahawks take on the Steelers in Week 6 — plus Bob Condotta’s prediction
It’s been almost 10 years since the Seahawks played a game without Russell Wilson.
And rarely in that time — if ever — have they appeared as desperate for a win as they are Sunday against the Steelers in Pittsburgh.
They have lost three of four to fall to 2-3 and face the prospect of playing at least three games without Wilson, if not more, while trying to heal, on-the-fly, an ailing defense.
The combination of those two factors led the betting line to shift from Seahawks initially being favored by 2.5 points to the Steelers favored by 5.5 by the end of the week.
It’s the largest spread against the Seahawks since the 49ers were 6.5-point favorites at home for a Monday night game late in the 2019 season. In the good omen department, the Seahawks won that game 27-24.
Now to try to repeat that feat.
On with our keys to the game.
Rare double punt by Seahawks’ Michael Dickson still has the NFL buzzing — including Bill Belichick
RENTON — Along with being one of the greatest coaches in NFL history, New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick is also known as one of the game’s great historians. So much so that the NFL Network enlisted his help to assemble a list of the league’s top 100 players two years ago.
But like seemingly everyone else involved in football, Belichick saw something last week he never had before during the the Seahawks’ 26-17 loss to the Los Angeles Rams — Michael Dickson scooping up his own blocked punt and punting the ball again.
“That one caught me off guard,” Belichick said during his weekly “Coffee with the Coach” video interview on Patriots.com. “I haven’t seen that before.”
And Belichick has seen a lot — he used much of his answer to a question about Dickson’s punt to recall that in the 1930s and ‘40s it wasn’t uncommon for a team receiving a punt to field it and punt it back on the same play with the hope of catching the original punting team out of position and getting a longer kick and a decided edge in field position as a result.
“That was a double-punt play,” Belichick said. “But not by the same team.”
Indeed, the rarity of Dickson’s “double punt” has led to more discussion throughout the league all week.
Hardened by New York drama, Geno Smith gets perhaps his last extended NFL audition with Seahawks
RENTON — Frank Cignetti Jr. is happy to talk about Geno Smith. Eager, even.
“Anything for Geno,” he says. “I love Geno.”
Cignetti has been a college and NFL coach for more than 30 years, mentoring dozens and dozens of quarterbacks over his career. He’s not singling out any one individual, but if he had to …
“I tell everyone: Geno is one of my favorite people anywhere,” Cignetti said in a phone interview this week. “He’s an unbelievable human being. I can’t say enough good things about him. He’s a leader, and he’s a winner.”
By 2017, when many around the NFL had passed on Smith after his tumultuous run as the would-be franchise QB of the New York Jets, Cignetti turned on old game tape and saw something in the free-agent QB that maybe others were missing.
Cignetti, then the QB coach of the New York Giants, saw obvious arm talent and undeniable athleticism. The kind of qualities that don’t immediately pop on tape — work ethic, leadership, drive — are what Cignetti described as Smith’s greatest assets, and reasons he believes Smith will have success for the Seahawks as Russell Wilson’s stand-in over the next month.
Read more here.
Seahawks place Russell Wilson and Chris Carson on injured reserve, activate Tre Brown and Ethan Pocic
RENTON — When the Seahawks began practice Friday at the VMAC, Russell Wilson was again leading quarterbacks through early conditioning work.
But that will be the last on-field work Wilson gets for a few weeks. After Friday’s practice the Seahawks placed Wilson on injured reserve, as well as running back Chris Carson, who continues to battle a neck injury.
That means Wilson and Carson must miss the next three games, beginning Sunday night at Pittsburgh and home games Oct. 25 against New Orleans and Oct. 31 against Jacksonville.
Each can return for the Seahawks’ Nov. 14 game at Green Bay (the Seahawks have a bye Nov. 7), which would be 37 days following the surgery Wilson had last week to repair a ruptured tendon and dislocation in his right middle finger. There have been several reports that Wilson has set the Green Bay game as a target date to return.
In corresponding moves, the Seahawks activated cornerback Tre Brown and offensive lineman Ethan Pocic off injured reserve.
Seahawks QB Geno Smith’s story is an underdog tale. And we can all get behind that
It’s a time-honored truism of football that everyone loves the backup quarterback. He’s a beacon of hope and possibility — facets that often are exposed as wishful thinking once pipedreams are replaced by actual playing time.
Geno Smith, who gets his first Seahawks start on Sunday six games into his third season as Russell Wilson’s understudy, has managed to twist the storyline a little bit. The classic backup tale involves a struggling starter that the fan base has lost faith in; the eternal theory is that the No. 2 guy can’t do any worse, and maybe he can do a lot better.
Obviously, that’s not the case in Seattle, where everybody but the most cynical are satisfied with Wilson. No one was calling for his ouster from the starting job, or clamoring for Smith’s ascension. It took an injured finger requiring surgery to accomplish that outcome — the first injury to sideline Wilson in his nine-plus seasons as the Seahawks’ quarterback.
Yet there still has been an outpouring of support for Smith, who had fans chanting his name when he entered the game after Wilson’s injury last Thursday to try to execute a comeback win over the Rams.
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