Let’s just call that what it was: an embarrassment.
Not a close loss that slipped through their fingers the way so many footballs did. Not a defeat that a favorable call or two would have reversed.
The Giants’ 17-12 win Sunday was simply a Herculean humiliation for the Seahawks. No reason to call it anything else.
This doesn’t mean that Seattle (8-4) is incapable of recovering and reeling off four straight wins to end the season. It doesn’t mean that panic should ensue or that personnel should be re-evaluated.
Stinkers happen in the NFL. But this one — this one was particularly putrid.
“None of us have seen us play like that, and so it was very difficult,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “I’m really surprised that this is how we looked against this game plan that they had. I thought we could do a lot of stuff. It just didn’t happen for us.”
The Seahawks came into this game as a double-digit favorite. They were playing against a 4-7 Giants team that had backup quarterback Colt McCoy filling in for the injured Daniel Jones.
Key players such as running backs Chris Carson and Carlos Hyde, safety Jamal Adams, cornerback Shaquill Griffin — all of whom had missed time due to injury at some point this season — were back on the field for the Seahawks. And yet they found a way to fall into a tie with the Rams at the top of the NFC West.
How did this happen? How did what looked like a slam dunk turn into an air ball? Well, as is often the case, it starts with the quarterback.
In perhaps his least potent performance of the year, Russell Wilson played his way out of the MVP race. He overthrew and underthrew receivers. He fumbled a snap that the Giants recovered. He incurred an intentional grounding penalty, threw his first interception in three games, and looked as though he had the ball glued to his hands on the majority of his five sacks — which resulted in the loss of 47 yards.
Yes, he engineered an 82-yard touchdown drive in the fourth quarter that cut the Giants’ lead to five with 6:09 to go. Yes, he still mustered 263 yards on 27-for-43 passing, good for a modest 6.1 yards per attempt.
But Sunday, Russ went from being The Man to being just a man.
“Unfortunately, I think the reality of this story is that we weren’t able to capitalize on opportunities,” Wilson said. “I always talk about game-altering plays. We didn’t have those plays unfortunately today.”
Still, despite the absence of those big plays, the Seahawks led 5-0 at halftime. It likely would have been 10-0 had DeeJay Dallas been able to scoop up a blocked punt in the end zone, but that ball got away and resulted in a safety.
Unfortunately for Seattle, the defense that dominated New York through the first half took a third-quarter sabbatical. The Giants went 80 yards on four plays — which included a 60-yard scamper by running back Wayne Gallman — to score a touchdown on their second drive of the second half. They followed with a 48-yard touchdown drive on their next possession, after the Seahawks failed to convert on a fourth-and-one.
New York finished with 190 rushing yards on 31 carries in a game where its quarterback situation all but guaranteed it would focus on the run. And yet, in that third quarter, Seattle provided all the resistance of a 1-mph breeze.
“That’s not our standard. That’s not Seahawk football. That’s not Seahawk defense,” Adams said after the game. “I don’t know what it was … I do know what it was — we weren’t doing our job. When you don’t do your job on defense, and they’re running the ball like they were running it, very efficient, you’re going to have a long day.”
And then there were some questionable coaching decisions, like Carroll deciding not to go for it on fourth-and-six from the Giants’ 37 in the first half. Or offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer calling for Wilson to roll out on fourth-and-one in the third quarter, which resulted in an incomplete pass. Or Carroll having to burn a sacred timeout in the fourth quarter because he feared there were too many players on the field.
They pumped in music and crowd noise at Lumen Field throughout the day. The Benny Hill theme song would have blended in nicely.
Next up for the Seahawks are the 0-12 Jets, followed by 4-7 Washington. Then come the Rams in their second-to-final game in the regular season. If that’s the game that ultimately gives Los Angeles the division title, the Seahawks might have to look back to Sunday as why.
This should have been a gimme. It became a giveaway.