SEATTLE - Sunday's 25-24 loss to the Chicago Bears was a perfect representation of exactly what the 2021 Seattle Seahawks are.
A team that used to be bulletproof at home let a middling Bears team that is expected to fire its head coach soon and was playing their third-string quarterback rally from a 10-point fourth quarter deficit to steal away a victory.
"That was about as disappointing a loss as we've had," head coach Pete Carroll said. "We were in control in so many ways to win it and put it away, and we just never did and let them stay alive, and they found a way to make their plays, and we had to do some stuff to give them that opportunity."
The Bears were one of only two teams in the NFL that were worse than the Seahawks in third down conversion rate entering Sunday's game. They converted 7-of-14 third down chances against Seattle, including a third-and-15 prayer to Jimmy Graham that set up the go-ahead two-point conversion try to Damiere Byrd with just over a minute left to play.
Meanwhile, Russell Wilson took a terrible 13-yard sack to make a 26-yard field goal try to go up two scores a 39-yard field goal try that ultimately was missed by Jason Myers to keep the game within reach.
And it wouldn't be a Seahawks game in 2021 without them losing the time of possession battle by a sizeable margin, being out-possessed by Chicago by a 38:25-21:45 margin.
It's the second time this season the Seahawks have lost a game in the fourth quarter when they were leading by at least 10 points. Seattle had a 14-point lead over the Tennessee Titans in the fourth quarter only to lose 33-30 in overtime.
Seattle is now locked into being last in the NFC West this season. It's the first time since 2000 that a Seahawks team has finished fourth in their division and the first time since 1996 they have finished last in their division. Both of those seasons came in the AFC West before moving into the NFC West in 2002.
Here are the takeaways from the loss to the Bears:
-- Russell Wilson takes bad sack, Duane Brown gets angry, Bears go steal the win.
Third-and-4 from the Chicago 8-yard line with 8:10 left to play. The Seahawks lead 24-17 and have a 26-yard field goal try awaiting if they can't pick up any more yards before the field goal try.
"We've got to get rid of the football. We can't take a sack there," Carroll said.
But that's exactly what happened. Wilson dropped to pass as five receivers released into the routes. Left tackle Duane Brown shoved pass rusher Robert Quinn way wide around the right end as Wilson had plenty of time to either find a target to throw to or throw the ball away. But Wilson, sensing Quinn's presence, tries to spin backward out of trouble. Wilson retreats backward 13 yards before Quinn gets him on the ground for a critical sack.
Brown screamed out in anger on the field before stomping demonstrably to the sidelines. He ripped off his helmet as he reached the bench, walked to the furthest seat, sat down and slammed his helmet on the turf.
The 26-yard try is now a 39-yard try, which Jason Myers proceeded to miss wide left to keep the Chicago at just a touchdown deficit.
Brown did his job and Wilson had time to throw. To take a negative play in that situation is just really poor execution. Brown's obvious frustration was illuminating, especially if the ire was directed at Wilson for not getting rid of the ball.
Wilson said he was trying to make a play and score a touchdown in that moment.
"I'd been moving well for the most part for most of the day," Wilson said. "So once it wasn't there... we've had so many scramble opportunities. I was looking for Tyler [Lockett] trying to see if he can move around and just try to get away. Knowing that, OK, no matter what we'll be near field goal range. We're inside of it now. I think the risk-reward trying to score a touchdown, we've done it so many times. I've hit Tyler and other guys, and unfortunately, we weren't able to make that play. Then, obviously, the situation happens where we don't end up making it, but I was trying to play ball like I know how to do and always do and try to move around and just try to see if we can find a touchdown there. Especially down in the red zone that close. It's one of those things that if I can run it in there, if I can slide to the left, slide to the right, boom, some guy is open, touchdown."
In many ways, this is the crux of the Seahawks problems. Wilson is trying to make the big play when the simple one will do. Carroll wants Wilson to make the simple decision of throwing the ball away and take the short field goal and the two-score lead. Wilson is looking for something else altogether and it backfires spectacularly.
"I've got to get them to execute that way. I've got to get Russ to pull that off. I've got to get the coaches to make sure we reminded him well enough so that didn't happen. You sail out it out of the end zone right there, kick the field goal," Carroll said.
Seattle never recovered those lost three points. Of course, Myers should be capable of making a 39-yard field goal. However, he's missed six of 18 field goal attempts this season and three extra point attempts as well. He's been far from automatic. To make his job 13 yards more difficult was a massive mistake by Wilson and it gave the Bears the chance to go win the game.
-- Rashaad Penny having a very nice end to the season.
After dealing with numerous injuries through his four years in Seattle, Rashaad Penny is finally showing the running back he can.
Two weeks after setting a career-high with 137 yards and two touchdowns against the Houston Texans, Penny followed it up with 135 yards and a touchdown against the Bears on Sunday.
"He looked big-time running the football today," Carroll said. "And he busted a number of different types of runs and hit some different style runs that were great to see him break tackles and get out, and that's a ton of yards for him to get in that game. I don't know if it was seven yards a carry or something like that, whatever it was. It's really great to have him back. He is legit."
Penny adapted his running style a little bit this season. He's running with more physicality and delivering some blows to his opponents rather than the other way around.
"Sometimes I forget I'm like 230 [pounds] to be honest," Penny said.
"I just always thought of myself as a home run hitter. I never trusted my instincts or my abilities. Crazy thing is Chris used to literally tell me every day, 'bro if you hit the hole hard enough and fast enough, I promise you the arm tackles you're just gonna break away easy from them.' I think it was at the start of this camp and I was just like, 'just forget it.' You know, I made that model. I don't want anyone touching my knee. So I'm gonna hit them first before they get to me."
Penny is making the most of his late-season chances are is looking to carry that momentum in the future.
"I feel like I didn't make any statement," Penny said. "I knew what I can do. Just I was never on the field. And it's unfortunate, but I'm I'm thankful for whatever I've been doing these last few weeks and I couldn't have done it without these guys giving me opportunity to show what I can do and just never given up on me."
Photo Credit: SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - DECEMBER 26: Russell Wilson #3 of the Seattle Seahawks loses the ball as he stretches to gain more yards, but Seattle is able to recover the ball during the second half against the Chicago Bears at Lumen Field on December 26, 2021 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)