The Seattle Seahawks couldn’t overcome a dismal first half and sank further out of the NFC playoff picture with a 24-10 defeat at Kansas City on Saturday afternoon, their fifth loss in the past six games.
Three instant reactions from the game:
Offense falls flat
You had to feel for Geno Smith in the first half Saturday. It certainly felt like he spent more time picking himself up off the ground than at any other point this season. He had no time and no chance. We just haven’t seen him hit and harassed the way the Kansas City defense hit and harassed him, in subfreezing temperatures at Arrowhead Stadium no less.
And that, ultimately, was the story of this game. The Seahawks could get nothing going offensively early on, and they could not dig themselves out of a 17-0 hole.
But if you’re Pete Carroll, you have to love the fight your team showed in the second half. Seattle’s defense was especially impressive, forcing the vaunted Chiefs offense to punt on three straight possessions to open the second half. The Seahawks forced the KC offense to go three-and-out four times, the most three-and-outs for the Chiefs in any game this season. That gave the Seahawks offense a chance to mount a comeback, and maybe it’ll give this team something to build on heading into the final two games of the regular season.
It was going to be a challenge for the Seahawks playing without star receiver Tyler Lockett, who missed just the second regular-season game of his NFL career due to injury while recovering from hand surgery. DK Metcalf did his part, fighting through persistent double teams to post seven catches for 81 yards.
As a double-digit underdog against the NFL’s No. 1 offense, the Seahawks were going to have to score to have a chance at an upset. In the end, three points is obviously not good enough; it’s not good enough in any game.
And, in the end, Geno Smith simply wasn’t good enough either. With Patrick Mahomes on the other side of the field, Smith had a chance to make a statement, and to keep the Seahawks’ playoff hopes alive. But he finished the game with his lowest passer rating (74.5) of the season, and he threw a costly interception in the end zone midway through the fourth quarter, wiping out a promising drive as the Seahawks tried to get within one score. There appeared to be a miscommunication on the route Marquise Goodwin ran on the play.
The Chiefs pushed their lead to 24-3 on the next drive, with Mahomes diving to the pylon on a 3-yard touchdown run.
Smith found tight end Noah Fant on a 6-yard touchdown pass on the Seahawks’ next drive, with 2:25 left in the game, but it was too little too late.
Smith did lead a nice drive in the final 2 minutes of the first half, getting the Seahawks within striking distance. He had a beautifully thrown 35-yard completion to Metcalf along the KC sidelines, and then threw perhaps his best pass of the day for Metcalf in the back of the end zone. Metcalf caught it but couldn’t get a second foot down in the end zone, resulting in an incomplete pass. That counted as one of the few highlights for Seattle’s offense, which managed to convert just 2 of 14 third downs overall.
The best development of this game for the Seahawks, no doubt, was the reemergence of rookie running back Kenneth Walker III.
In his return from an ankle injury, Walker was held to just 16 yards on nine carries in the first half, and he looked little like the breakout sensation we saw midway through the season.
But Walker finally broke free in the second half, rushing for 91 yards on 17 second-half carries to post his first 100-yard rushing game since Nov. 6 at Arizona.
That’s exactly what this offense needed, a run-game rebirth, and that should make life just a little easier for Geno Smith and the offense over the next two weeks. If the Seahawks are going to get back in the playoff chase, they’ll need Walker at his best.
Another positive development: Seattle’s defense held the Chiefs to 77 yards rushing, the fewest the Seahawks have allowed in a game since a Week 8 win over the New York Giants.
It wasn’t all bad for the Seahawks on Saturday.
In another early game, the Minnesota Vikings knocked off the New York Giants on a last-second field goal, dropping the Giants’ record to 8-6-1.
In Charlotte, the Carolina Panthers beat Detroit on Saturday morning, dropping the Lions to 7-8. The Seahawks own the tiebreaker over both the Giants and Lions.
Elsewhere, the Washington Commanders (7-6-1), who entered the weekend holding the No. 7 and final NFC playoff berth, kicked off against the 49ers this afternoon in San Francisco, a game that could go a long way toward determining Seattle’s playoff fate.
The Seahawks close out the regular season with two games at home, against the Jets and Rams.
The Jets (7-8) are coming off an ugly loss to Jacksonville on Thursday night, and they have some serious questions at quarterback.
And the Rams (4-10), we know, are closing out a lost season, with injuries continuing to pile up for them.
Saturday’s loss dropped the Seahawks’ playoff chances down to 24%, according to FiveThirtyEight.com.
But if the Seahawks can win out and get to 9-8, their chances jump to 58%, and they’ll obviously need others to knock off the Commanders and Giants to sneak in as the likely last NFC playoff team.
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