Arizona Cardinals Carson Palmer continued a trend Sunday in which NFL quarterbacks torched the Seattle Seahawks’ once-mighty secondary.
Five good quarterbacks, five Seahawks losses.
Five times this season Seattle’s strength became its shortcoming.
The Seahawks’ secondary once operated on a mystical plane — dominating offenses for 60 torturous minutes. Not this season, though.
With the game on the line, we’ve been watching the Legion of Gloom.
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Given the history of this team, it’s almost inconceivable that Seattle could have had nine fourth-quarter leads this year but only four victories. Handing it over to the defense in the final minutes was akin to Mariano Rivera taking the ball in the ninth.
You couldn’t pick apart the Seahawks. Opposing QBs weren’t heroes-in-waiting.
But that was then. This is … wow.
Yes, wow is the only way to describe how some of these games have gotten away. Those three letters are an appropriate characterization of the nature of this year’s losses.
Opponents have thrown at least one fourth-quarter touchdown pass in each of Seattle’s defeats — and the problem doesn’t seem to be going away.
At first, it appeared that maybe the absence of Kam Chancellor was the primary culprit in the Hawks’ secondary woes. Rams quarterback Nick Foles posted a monstrous passer rating of 115.8 against Seattle in Week 1, capping the performance with a tying 37-yard touchdown pass to Lance Kendricks — who burned Chancellor’s backup, Dion Bailey.
A week later, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers put up a rating of 116.9 against the Seahawks, and in the fourth quarter led an 80-yard drive that gave Green Bay a seven-point lead.
Respite came a week later, when Chancellor returned against the Jimmy Clausen-led Chicago Bears and helped Seattle pitch a shutout. It continued in Week 4, when Matt Stafford and the now 2-7 Lions were held to just 10 points.
The Seahawks had effectively shown they can make the mediocre look bad and the bad look horrific — a trend that continued with wins in San Francisco and Dallas. But against the top-flight QBs? The Hawks were reduced to mere conquests.
Cincinnati’s Andy Dalton threw for 331 yards against Seattle and rallied the Bengals back from a 17-point fourth-quarter deficit. Both of his TD passes looked to be the result of breakdowns in the Seahawks’ secondary.
Carolina’s Cam Newton led two 80-yard touchdown drives against Seattle in the fourth quarter to rally the Panthers back from nine points down. His go-ahead TD pass to Greg Olsen was definitely the result of a breakdown in the secondary.
And then, of course, there was Sunday night, when Arizona’s Carson Palmer threw for a whopping 363 yards against the Hawks. Palmer also tossed a TD at the end of an 83-yard drive in the fourth quarter to put the Cardinals up by three.
Seeing all these examples in succession seems borderline unfathomable. How could such a fabled component of the Seahawks’ defense suddenly become so tenuous?
Richard Sherman is still on the team, right? Earl Thomas and Chancellor, too, right? Yes, they’re all there — but there isn’t much to support them.
Two years ago, for instance, there were four cornerbacks — Byron Maxwell, Brandon Browner, Walter Thurmond and Jeremy Lane — who could play opposite Richard Sherman. However, when you win a Super Bowl and pay your prime-time players prime-time salaries, depth tends to suffer. Despite the marquee names on the roster, this isn’t quite the same secondary that played at a historic level during those two runs to The Big Game.
But that doesn’t excuse some of this year’s performances, either.
There are a number of areas you can point to if you feel like skewering the Seahawks. The offensive line has been abysmal, Russell Wilson has been inconsistent and Marshawn Lynch has been injured. There is little doubt that a more potent offense would have bred this team more wins.
But come on, the identity of these Seahawks lies in their defense, especially on the back end. Unfortunately, they appear to be in the midst of an identity crisis.
This team is still capable of big things, but there is no denying the truth.
In the biggest moments this season, the Hawks’ secondary has been second rate.
|Top performances by opposing QBs against the Seahawks this season:|
|Carson Palmer, Cardinals||29-48||363||3||1||39-32 loss|
|Cam Newton, Panthers||20-36||269||1||2||27-23 loss|
|Andy Dalton, Bengals||30-44||331||2||1||27-24 loss|
|Aaron Rodgers, Packers||25-33||249||2||0||27-17 loss|