A season-ending 28-23 to the Green Bay Packers on Sunday night at Lambeau Field followed an all-too-familiar script for the Seahawks when it comes to road games in the Divisional Round of the NFC playoffs.
The Seahawks fell behind into a 18-point hole at halftime as the Packers grabbed a 21- 3 lead. Russell Wilson then had to place the hopes of the team on his back in leading a furious second half rally that came within one successful drive of accomplishing its goal. Instead, the game was so remarkably similar to several other road playoff exits for the Seahawks.
- 2012: Seahawks trailed 27-7 against the Atlanta Falcons with 2:11 left in the third quarter. Lost 30-28.
- 2015: Seahawks trailed 31-7 against the Carolina Panthers with 13:27 left in the third quarter. Lost 31-24.
- 2016: Seahawks trailed 26-10 against the Atlanta Falcons with 9:12 left in the third quarter. Lost 36-20.
- 2019: Seahawks trailed 28-10 against the Green Bay Packers with 7:09 left in the third quarter. Lost 28-23.
Seattle had a chance to win the game late by taking over possession with just under five minutes to play while trailing by five. However, Russell Wilson was sacked by Preston Smith on a third-and-5 with just over three minutes to play and Seattle punted the ball away instead of trying for a fourth-and-11 conversion.
Two first downs by the Packers on throws to Davante Adams and Jimmy Graham gave Green Bay the possession needed to run out the clock and advance to face the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship game next week.
The year is now over. It comes to an abrupt end for anyone in the playoffs that doesn't win the whole thing. Here are the takeaways from the final game of the Seahawks' 2019 campaign:
-- Russell Wilson summons magic once again to nearly carry the Seahawks to another improbable victory.
The fact the Seahawks had a chance to pull out another insane victory on Sunday night was thanks to the play of its star quarterback.
Wilson completed 21 of 31 passes for 277 yards with a touchdown pass to Tyler Lockett and rushed seven times for 64 yards on scrambles. His ability to run Packers defenders in circles had the unit gassed in the second half as Seattle attempted its comeback. Wilson had just 105 yards passing at halftime and little support from its rushing attack. He exploded for 172 yards in the second half with 48 of his rushing yards coming after the break as well.
Wilson was navigating behind an offensive line that saw Duane Brown play just three weeks removed from knee surgery, Mike Iupati sidelined with a stinger and his replacement, Jamarco Jones, being knocked out of the game in the second quarter with a concussion. Backup center Joey Hunt even had to leave the game for a snap due to a dislocated finger in the first quarter.
But with the line in shambles, Marshawn Lynch and Travis Homer ineffectively serving as Seattle's fourth- and fifth-string running backs, and another massive second-half deficit to overcome, Wilson was at his best.
Three consecutive touchdown drives to open the third quarter gave Seattle the chance to win the game. It just proved to be too much to absorb.
Wilson was ultimately let down on the final drive as Malik Turner dropped a sure first down pass that would have moved the Seahawks into Green Bay territory. Wilson was then sacked on third down and Seattle punted the ball away for the final time and never possessed it again.
Wilson has proven repeatedly why he was absolutely deserving of top quarterback money with his contract extension this past offseason. He's not perfect. He'll have his moments and games where he doesn't play to his extremely high standard. However, Wilson is unquestionably brilliant and helped carry a team that probably wasn't as good as its record to within one more scoring drive of a conference championship berth.
-- Rushing attack just wasn't able to compensate for the losses of Chris Carson, Rashaad Penny.
Marshawn Lynch and Travis Homer combined for just 19 yards on 17 carries in last weekend's victory over the Philadelphia Eagles. Lynch and Homer combined for just 39 yards on 15 carries in the loss to the Packers.
While Lynch scored four touchdowns combined in his three-game return to the Seahawks as a goal-line back, the effectiveness of Seattle's backfield fell off of a cliff in the absence of Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny.
Carson and Penny helped carry Seattle to the league's fourth-ranked rushing attack during the regular season. Carson posted a second-straight 1,000-yard season with 1,230 yards and seven touchdowns in 15 games played for the team this season. Penny added 370 yards and three touchdowns in his relief role to Carson before an ACL tear in early December ended his season. Carson, along with C.J. Prosise, were then lost for the year in the Week 16 loss to the Arizona Cardinals.
The Seahawks wanted to try and get Lynch more involved this week and gave him six carries in the first half. Those touches netted just 14 yards as Seattle's offense couldn't stay on the field to sustain drives. The team didn't over-commit to the run game early on. They had just seven non-scramble rushing attempts on 25 offensive plays in the first half. However, the ineffectiveness of the rushing attack helped lead to four of their five third-down chances in the half needing to gain at least six yards or more to maintain possession.
The lack of potency on the ground was a significant blow to Seattle's game plan.
-- Seattle's defense had no answer for Davante Adams.
The connection between Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams was nearly unstoppable for the Seahawks defense on Sunday.
The pair combined for eight receptions for 160 yards and two touchdowns as Adams served as the only significant weapon of note for the Green Bay attack.
Aaron Jones was held to just 62 yards on 21 carries. Jimmy Graham caught just three passes for 49 yards. No other receiver had more than a single catch for the Packers on the night. And yet, Adams managed to carve up the Seattle defense routinely with many critical catches. All eight of his receptions resulted in first downs or a touchdown.
A 20-yard touchdown that gave the Packers the early lead came on a third-and-7 and a critical 32-yard grab that helped the Packers run out the clock came on third-and-8 with 2:19 left to play.
The Packers did a really nice job of moving Adams around the formation so he would be matched up against Ugo Amadi in the slot or get to run through space over the middle in zone coverages. However, he also caused problems for Shaquill Griffin and particularly Tre Flowers on the outside as well in moments where he was matched up with them as well.
Rodgers was fairly pedestrian when not targeting Adams. He was just 8 of 16 for 83 yards when throwing passes to anyone not named Adams. But the Seahawks couldn't do anything to keep Rodgers from being successful in chucking the ball in Adams' direction.
-- The seemingly lackadaisical starts to games have to be addressed.
It's been an issue in Divisional Round playoffs for years but it's an issue that was a constant theme throughout the 2019 season.
The Seahawks trailed by at least a touchdown in six of their 16 regular season games this season. They were trailing at halftime in 10 of 16 game played.
While Pete Carroll is right that you cannot win games in the first, second or third quarter, you can sure as hell make it a whole lot more difficult.
Russell Wilson is an absurdly talented quarterback and he gives the Seahawks the ability to dig out of some big holes when they find themselves playing from behind. The problem is it's almost as if the team not just expects those outcomes to come to fruition because of Wilson's talents.
The +7 point differential the team had during the regular season suggests the team was not as good as its 11-5 record suggested. The Seahawks were either playing from behind and finding a way to earn many close victories or letting their few seemingly more convincing wins erode into games decided by a closer margin than necessary.
Against the Packers, the Seahawks were just 1 of 5 on third down in the first half while Green Bay was 5 of 7. The difference in third down margin was as illustrative of the 21-3 halftime deficit as anything. The Packers kept finding ways to maintain drives while Seattle was stalling out repeatedly. The only conversion of the half was a scramble by Wilson on the final drive of the second quarter that ended with a Hail Mary attempt to the end zone and no points.
If there's any singular area where the Seahawks must become more proficient, it's finding a way to get games started quicker so they aren't constantly fighting upstream. Against better teams in the playoffs, this deficiency gets amplified significantly.
Photo Credit: GREEN BAY, WISCONSIN - JANUARY 12: Jimmy Graham #80 of the Green Bay Packers makes a catch against K.J. Wright #50 of the Seattle Seahawks in the third quarter of the NFC Divisional Playoff game at Lambeau Field on January 12, 2020 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)