There’s plenty of fallout from the Seahawks’ devastating loss to the 49ers, letting the NFC West title slip from their grasp on Sunday Night Football and setting up a road matchup with the Philadelphia Eagles instead of a home game against the Minnesota Vikings to start the playoffs.
But before we fully move on to Seahawks-Eagles, let’s take a look at what the national media are saying about Sunday’s frantic finish:
NBC Sports’ Peter King says he’ll be trying to grasp the ending to this one for a while:
I cannot believe how fast things happened down the stretch, how bizarre they were, how officiating played a gigantic role in another mega-game, and how the Seahawks will wonder for years how they messed up this great chance with two accurate fourth-down bullets from Russell Wilson to the goal line and …
I hate the cliché, “There’s a lot to unpack.” That’s used in every sports story with some complexity these days. But I am going to make an exception here, because there are seven large suitcases to unpack from this game, as we figure out how San Francisco won the West and the top seed in the NFC and a week off, and Seattle got the five seed … and a 2,814-mile reward: a trip to play the quixotic Eagles in a wild-card game in Pennsylvania on Sunday.
Over at The Ringer, Riley McAtee counts the ways the Seahawks blew it:
The Seahawks are not exactly known for their sound decision-making during late-game, goal-line situations. But even taking that famous history into account, their delay-of-game penalty in the closing minute of the team’s 26-21 loss to the 49ers is like something out of Billy Madison: You’ll be dumber for having learned how it happened.
Let’s review what not to do when a game is on the line. The Seahawks (1) threw to a player who had never caught a pass before; (2) spiked away what may have been their best chance at punching the ball in the end zone; (3) called on a player who had been signed just days before, wasn’t ready, and wouldn’t be very useful in this specific situation anyway; (4) botched a goal-line substitution; and (5) lost track of the play clock. Not all of those mistakes are equal (and no. 1 even worked for the most part), but they all add up to one bitter loss.
Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated’s Monday Morning Quarterback lays out the challenge ahead for the Seahawks:
Now Seattle has to confront that trip to Philadelphia, plus the reality of having to go to either Santa Clara, Green Bay or New Orleans in the divisional round if they win — and then play another road game for the conference title, should it come to that.
And that’s despite the fact that the Seahawks won 11 games. It’s been a funny year in that way. The Saints won 13 games and the Patriots won 12, and neither team got a bye. The Vikings were 10-5 coming into Week 17 and locked into the NFC’s final seed.
That tells you the field is pretty flat, and the competition should be fairly wide open, making things like weeks off and home-field advantage important.
Shannon Sharpe on FS1’s “Undisputed” breaks down several aspects of the game, including his experience in late-game situations:
Sharpe: My biggest problem was them taking the delay of game. When you’re in a two-minute drill situation … you call two plays in the huddle, and you stay in the same formation. … That way you don’t spend time running around and switching sides. Call two plays. … They got the ball down there at the 1-yard line. Why not just run to the line? They’re trying to run packages on the field to get Marshawn. You can’t make up for four years ago. You’re not getting Super Bowl XLIX back! That is over. So, getting Marshawn in there on this situation — let it go, Pete. All you wanna do is score the ball.
They’re in the huddle when they get the delay of game! I’ve never seen a team get a delay of game and they’re still in the huddle. Not at the line of scrimmage barking out cadence.
There’s still hope, of course. After all this craziness and the big letdown, the Seahawks are 1.5-point favorites in Philadelphia, per DraftKings Sportsbook.