The Seahawks took a tough 13-6 loss last night against the tough division rival 49ers in San Francisco, which featured five dropped Seahawks passes, dueling dominance from each team's featured tailback (Beast Mode 103 yards rushing, Frank Gore 131 yards rushing) and a chess match between two dominant defenses that did all they could not to give a yard more than necessary.
Mike Salk said his piece on how he thought the loss was in many ways a win, and in many respects I've got to agree, Seahawks Fans. This could have easily been worse, but the Hawks showed in defeat that they definitely are not outclassed in these big games.
- Alex Smith got tightly contained. 14 for 23, only 140 yards and a TD with a pick. Aside from that solid TD drive in the 3rd quarter, he did nothing of note in the air against the Seahawks defense.
- The Seahawks were able to play their game and (mostly) avoid penalties: Okung's late game gaffe aside, the Seahawks committed two other penalties total. With both teams using the run game, defense and clock control to shorten the game, the Hawks showed they could play solid football and avoid stupid mistakes, aside from...
- ... the drops! The Seahawks dropped five passes, an astonishing series of drive-killing gaffes. And yet they were able to stay in the game.
- The Seahawks were able to hang with SF despite still not opening up their offensive playbook. They ran 29 times to 25 pass plays The pass plays were not especially daring, your typical smashmouth playbook of 'short passes or deep lottery-shot bombs (mostly to the right side)'. Carroll did try a few 1st and 2nd down throws, but it was still mostly the same game of 'set the table with Beast Mode.'
- And Beast Mode delivered against an elite 49ers defense. Marshawn Lynch had 15 runs between the tackles for 81 yards, and 103 yards total on the ground. The top-shelf 49ers defense knew what was coming and Lynch still delivered.
- If not for the drops, Russell Wilson would have had a decent game. RW posted an abysmal 9 for 23 for 122 and a pick. Never mind that if five of those incompletions had been caught he'd have had a decent stat line. A catch on any of those drops could have changed the context of their respective drives and made it a different story for the offense, with the 49ers' backs to the wall in their own territory. Maybe he throws more, maybe he throws less, but likely he has a TD or two and a better stat line than one from drops and desperate end game throws into the pass block packages of a top defense. Given his team's play selection continues to bottle him up, Russell didn't doo too bad given his receivers let him down huge.
- Most of all, if not for the drops the Seahawks probably win this game. Again, a catch on any of those drops changes the context of that given drive, and touchdowns on one or more of those drives puts momentum in the Seahawks hands, plus their defense was shutting down Alex Smith and not allowing points despite Frank Gore's success. If less than half of those drops didn't happen, we could be talking about a tough Seahawks win in San Francisco against one of the league's top teams.
- Oh, one more key item for the road. Speaking of the road... the Seahawks did this on the road. The Hawks have a notorious home field advantage and critics feel they shrivel up without the 12th Man on their side, the way dome teams often do. Clearly, that is a bunch of bull and the Hawks are legitimately good whether at home or in enemy territory.
So here's a bandwagon worth starting: Despite their loss last night, the Seahawks made a huge statement. They showed that, even when far from their best, they have what it takes to beat the best teams in the NFL. Be afraid, NFC. This is not a team you want to see on the other side of the field in a do-or-die January playoff game... whether they are playing at their best or not.