The Seahawks had a chance to win this one. Instead, two costly penalties in the closing minutes cost them — it cost them big.
Final score: New Orleans Saints 13, Seattle Seahawks 10.
This felt like a must-win game for the Seahawks at home, and there will be some major, major questions about the direction of this team, and this franchise, after this.
For now, the Seahawks fall to 2-5.
Three immediate impressions from the game:
Defense does its part
Look, the Seahawks defense has deserved much of the heat it has taken this season.
The defense has, objectively, been bad too often.
It’s been too soft and too predictable.
But give this defense some credit — it did its job Monday night.
Sure, the rain and wind made things difficult for both offenses.
Sure, the opposing quarterback was Jameis Winston.
And, sure, the Seahawks should still reasonably be expected to pressure the QB better than they did Monday night.
But all in all, this was another step forward for this defense.
Jamal Adams played perhaps his best game of the season.
Ugo Amadi came up with a huge turnover in the second half.
The pass rush was … well, it was just OK without its best pass-rusher, Darrell Taylor.
And, yes, absolutely, the Seahawks should have figured out a way to slow down Alvin Kamara. He’s the Saints’ only offensive weapon — one of the best skill players in the NFL — and you would have thought the defensive plan coming in would have been to slow him down. To try slow him down, somehow.
Instead, he made the Seahawks look silly at times in the first half.
Still, there were encouraging signs from this defense.
Bottom line: The defense gave the Seahawks a chance to win Monday night. It did its job — and yet it still didn’t do enough.
Dumb, dumb penalties
Two stupid, idiotic, un-stinkin’-believable penalties ultimately cost the Seahawks in the closing minutes.
This was an ugly, ugly game, and maybe it’s only fitting that it need with two ugly, ugly penalties on the Seahawks.
The first: Marquise Blair’s roughing-the-passer hit on Winston on what would have been a drive-ending sack at the Seattle 39-yard line midway through the fourth quarter.
Instead, Blair was — appropriately — flagged because he lowered his helmet into Winston’s face mask. Defenders cannot lower their helmet, for one, and in 2021 they certainly won’t get away with hitting the QB high.
That 15-yard penalty gave New Orleans new life.
The second penalty, on the same drive: encroachments (offsides) on defensive tackle Al Woods on fourth-and-5 as the Saints lined up for what would have been a 42-yard field-goal attempt with 3:08 remaining.
It was a familiar script — the Seahawks had just gotten a massive stop on third down, only to unnecessarily give the Saints a free first down.
It’s particularly cruel that that penalty was on Woods, because Woods has played well this season — about as well as anyone on Seattle’s defense, and it’s unfortunate that that one play contributed so heavily in the outcome.
But you can’t jump offsides in that spot.
The penalty cost the Seahawks 72 seconds — 72 precious seconds in the closing moments of the game — and gave the Saints’ backup kicker, Brian Johnson, a much closer look at the field goal. He converted the winning kick from 33 yards, sending the Saints to the 13-10 win.
There were no secrets here. Pete Carroll flatly and emphatically told everyone what the Seahawks offense would do here Monday night.
They were going to run the ball.
And they did, with little success — they gained 90 yards on 33 carries in all.
We all saw DK Metcalf’s brilliant 84-yard touchdown in the first quarter. Remember that? That was fun, yeah?
After that, Geno Smith seemed to forget about DK Metcalf.
Carroll seemed to forget about Metcalf.
Smith didn’t target Metcalf again until the fourth quarter. He finished with five targets in total — with one more catch for 13 yards on a third-down play in the fourth quarter.
That’s not enough.
The Seahawks need to get Metcalf more involved, regardless of who the quarterback is.
Tyler Lockett also had a quiet night — just two catches (on three targets) for 12 yards.
And, look, both receivers are hurting a bit right now — Metcalf with a foot injury and Lockett with a nagging hip injury — but this was a must-win game. A must-win! And to not have their best players a bigger part of the game plan just seems like an obvious mistake.
It’s that obvious, right?