Well, it was undeniably a tough day at the office for the Seahawks at the CLink on Sunday, and a rare one at that — the first loss there of any kind since Dec. 24, 2011, which includes 14 regular season games and four exhibition games.
My sense is you may not want to read every little thing about the game, so I figured I’d just link to the places where you can find everything written, and then pass along a few more notes and thoughts, instead.
And here’s the opposing view from the Arizona Republic and from AZCardinals.com. And to point out one other story that may not be covered in any of those links, here’s USA Today’s coverage of how the Cardinals taunted Marshawn Lynch after the game.
As for where the Seahawks go now, the answer is the one everyone in the locker room gave afterward — back to work. Seattle still needs just one win or one 49er loss and it wraps up the NFC West and homefield advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.
That would also give them a 13-3 record, tied with the 2005 team for the best in franchise history. Would you have taken that before the season? Maybe that’s one of the reasons for the reaction right now — people talked about this team potentially going undefeated, so any loss seems shocking. But as noted, 13-3 would tie the best ever for this franchise. The sky is hardly falling.
That said, if there was something that the Cardinals exploited in this game that may be the most legitimate cause for concern it is Seattle’s recent inability to get Lynch going.
All of Lynch’s numbers are down from a year ago as he now has 1,089 yards and averaging 4.2 yards per carry compared to 1,590 and 5.0 in 2012. Lynch is the, well, lynchpin for all that Seattle does on offense. Seattle likes to get him going to then open up its play-action-based passing game. But if Lynch isn’t running well, then none of it works as well — and just to make clear, Lynch is obviously not the only one who makes the running game work. He can only go as far as the line will allow him to get, and lately that hasn’t been very far. But since Lynch gets almost all of Seattle’s running back carries, his numbers are the ones that carry the weight here.
As noted, Lynch will finish the season with stats that are down from a year ago. But the inability of Seattle to get him going has really been pronounced the last five games. Here are those numbers:
Minnesota: 17 carries, 54 yards, 3.2 average
New Orleans: 16-45, 2.8
San Francisco: 20-72, 3.6
New York: 16-47, 2.9
Arizona: 18-71, 3.9
That’s a combined 87 carries for 289 yards and an average of 3.3 per attempt.
Given the way Seattle plays, they need more out of their traditional running game than that.
Arizona appeared to really load up to stop the run and dare Seattle to beat it passing, and that’s harder for the Seahawks to do right now without Sidney Rice and Percy Harvin — this was one game where it was really hard to think about the difference Harvin might have made.
But they might not have Harvin the rest of the year, so they’ll have to figure out a way to make it work with what they have. That will require better play from the line (and it’s hard to blame much of this on the fact that J.R. Sweezy wasn’t there) or maybe a different way of looking at the offense (maybe they have to get Russell Wilson running a bit more).
There were other issues today as well, notably penalties and just some overall sloppy play (this was one of the rare days when the Seahawks lost the special teams battle).
Add it up, and this particular Seattle team is facing its first real on-field adversity — the Indianapolis loss seemed like just one of those things that happens in the NFL, especially on the road, and the 49ers loss seemed like a game that got away on a short week on the road against a good team. But Seattle had all the intangible edges in this one except for maybe one — Seattle has become the hunter instead of the hunted, and beating the Seahawks is now considered a big deal.
They are getting the best shot of every team they play (well, maybe not the Giants last week, who seemed incapable of giving a best shot last week). As many Seahawks said afterward, it’s not the adversity that matters as much as how you respond to it. That’s among the questions to be answered in a final week of the regular suddenly way more intriguing than anyone could have imagined.