The Seahawks once again struggled in the defensive secondary, but ultimately a couple other position groups played much more poorly than Seattle's DBs.
SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Don’t fret too much.
Seattle still has a 97 percent chance to make the playoffs following Sunday’s 26-23 loss to the San Francisco 49ers, according to FiveThirtyEight.com.
It would have been 100 percent with a victory. But, per FiveThirtyEight.com, even a defeat against the Chiefs next Sunday leaves Seattle at 95 percent, and losses in the next two games leave Seattle at 69 percent given that other teams (such as Carolina) would have to run the table to really endanger the Seahawks’ playoffs hopes.
There is, though, one really obscure scenario where Seattle could beat Kansas City, but lose to Arizona and not make the playoffs. A victory against Arizona assures a playoff spot.
Not that those stats salved many wounds Sunday for the Seahawks, who suffered what seems like their annual upset defeat against an NFC West team. (Recall, losing to Arizona a year ago, and the seemingly annual defeats against the Rams for much of the decade when losing to the Rams wasn’t as expected.)
Now on to the grades.
The return of Doug Baldwin helped revive Seattle’s passing game a bit. Still, this wasn’t quite vintage Russell Wilson even if he was better than a week ago when he threw for a career-low 72 yards against the Vikings. Wilson didn’t throw to an evidently wide-open Baldwin on a third down on the final possession of regulation, capping a day when he just seemed a little tentative at times. Conversely, he teamed with Baldwin for a great play on a 35-yard touchdown strike in the second quarter in the kind of play only those two can make. Wilson also had just 15 yards rushing.
With Rashaad Penny out with a knee injury, the Seahawks had to rely on Chris Carson and Mike Davis. Both delivered — Carson rushing for a season-high 119 yards and scoring a touchdown on a hard-fought fourth-down run, and Davis catching eight passes on eight targets for 63 yards. J.D. McKissic also appeared to make a huge play in overtime before it was called back via penalty.
Baldwin indeed brought some life to the passing game, with four receptions for 77 yards. But he didn’t get a lot of help. Tyler Lockett had two catches for 45 yards, and David Moore one for 9 — his only catch in the past three games — while Jaron Brown didn’t have any. Seattle will need more varied receiver production to go far in the postseason.
From a receiving standpoint, here’s another area where Seattle could use some more help. Seattle got two receptions for 14 yards from Ed Dickson, and none from Nick Vannett, who has just six catches in the past six games. It might not be the fault of the TEs, but they need to get a little more involved.
Seattle had another good day running (168 yards on 35 carries) and was OK in pass protection (Wilson was sacked three times — not good, but not terrible). But all those penalties are hard to ignore. Seattle’s O-line had five holding penalties — two each on J.R. Sweezy and Ethan Pocic, and another on Germain Ifedi — which played a big role in the outcome.
Seattle did a decent job on the 49ers’ running game — 94 yards on 26 carries and an average of 3.6 yards per attempt — and also sacked Nick Mullens three times. Jarran Reed had a particularly good game, with two sacks for 18 yards — each on the 49ers’ last possession of regulation. Reed continues a strong season that could land him in the Pro Bowl. Poona Ford also had a really nice game with a career-high six tackles.
Last time the Seahawks played the 49ers, Bobby Wagner picked off a pass and returned it 98 yards for a touchdown. That wasn’t going to happen again. But the linebackers still had an OK day. Austin Calitro — the starting weakside linebacker until K.J. Wright returns — had a team-high eight tackles and Wagner had seven. And while the 49ers moved the ball at times, they were held to 351 total yards — they had 452 in Seattle two weeks ago.
The Seahawks played the last three quarters without starting strong safety Bradley McDougald, and that showed as the Seahawks gave up a few big plays — and might have given up a few more had the 49ers been able to hit them. Shaquill Griffin got called for a critical pass interference penalty in overtime and Delano Hill had a critical PI penalty in the fourth quarter that spurred the drive that put the 49ers ahead 23-20. The youngsters have played better than many thought for most of the year. But Sunday showed there is still some learning to do.
A tough day here with the Seahawks allowing their first kickoff return for a touchdown since 2015 (Cordarrelle Patterson of the Vikings) and Sebastian Janikowksi missing a PAT that helped result in the tie game and overtime. Michael Dickson had a good game punting — the rookie downed three kicks inside the 20. But this was a rare day in this season when Seattle didn’t have the upper hand in special teams.