Week 3 Game Recap: SEA @ MIN
September 28, 2021 9:28AM PDT
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It’s been years since we’ve seen such a demoralizing loss. Not only did we lose for the second straight week and fall behind within the division at 1-2, but we lost against the Vikings - a team Russell Wilson had been undefeated against. It’s always tough to write about the Seahawks after a loss but is especially so this time. It feels as if all the hopes we had about this season - all the optimism that builds up throughout the offseason - have already been erased. Waldron’s offensive system has yielded extraordinary results… in the first half. And thus far, it turns out that the national media has been right about this defense, despite Seahawks fans arguing the contrary all offseason. Super Bowl aspirations? Gone. Nonetheless, it is important to try to analyze what went wrong, difficult as it may be given just how much went wrong, and where we can improve.
Once again, the Seahawks miserably lost the Time of Possession (TOP) battle by a factor of nearly 2:3. Through Week 3, the Seahawks rank last in TOP holding the ball only 38.9% of the time. The Vikings ran 40% more plays than the Seahawks, 73 to 52, and despite the Seahawks having a better Yards per Play (7.5 vs 6.2), the sheer volume of plays the Vikings ran led them to outgain the Seahawks in yards by 64 yards.
The box score indicates that this game was closer than it was. The Seahawks were more efficient on a per play basis, per pass basis (8.3 YPA vs 8.0 YPA), and per rush basis (5.9 YPC vs 4.1 YPC). Wilson was surprisingly only sacked twice, despite being frequently under pressure. What was telling was 3rd Down efficiency, where the Seahawks converted only 37.5% of 3rd Downs, while the Vikings converted a whopping 64.3%. Sustaining drives allowed the Vikings to make six red zone trips, while the Seahawks only had one. Even worse, the Seahawks only forced one punt the entire game and allowed the Vikings to score 23 unanswered points after leading 17-7 early in the 2nd Quarter.
There is plenty of blame to go around on both sides of the ball. DJ Reed was in coverage on 2 of 3 Vikings passing TDs, one on 3rd and 13 on a slant by Thielen where Reed actually had decent coverage but was just a half step behind, and one where Reed was handily beaten by Jefferson on a 3 yard pivot route. Up 17-7, Ugo Amadi was called for a holding penalty, negating a sack Rasheem Green that would have resulted in second consecutive 3 and out, ultimately leading to the Thielen TD. Breakdowns in run support were evident throughout the game. The Seahawks were badly beaten by RB screens, allowing two 20+ yard screens to Mattison.
The whole offense was atrocious after the 1st Quarter, not scoring in the final 41 minutes of the game. Down 17-27 early in the 4th Quarter just short of midfield, Wilson missed a wide-open Swain high over the middle of the field on 3rd and 7. Wilson was under some pressure, but this is a throw he completes 90% of the time. In true desperation mode, Wilson launched a deep ball down the left sideline to DK Metcalf on 3rd and 12, but DK badly mistimes the jump ball despite having a decent chance at catching the ball over Xavier Woods. On the very next play, Penny Hart got behind two Vikings defenders, but Wilson’s famous moon ball had too much air and allowed Harrison Smith to make up ground and break up the pass.
To add insult to injury, Myers ended his streak by missing a field goal in the 2nd Quarter that would’ve put the Seahawks ahead 20-14.
Despite the demoralizing loss, there were some noteworthy plays. DK was a bright spot for this offense, mostly in the 1st Quarter, by badly beating Patrick Peterson for 28 yards on a pivot route to set up Seattle in the red zone on their first drive. DK ultimately scored two plays later on a blaze out to the right sideline where he did a nice job selling fade to a CB that was playing off man. Both these plays are noteworthy for DK, as the pivot and blaze out exemplify that his route running has consistently improved since entering the NFL. DK also showed excellent play recognition by adapting to zone coverage on a sluggo route - sitting down beneath the deep safety instead of continuing to run deep.
Swain made appearances in clutch situations, converting a quick slant on 3rd and 7 for a first down and almost came down with a highlight one-handed catch on an overthrow by Wilson mentioned earlier. Swain also received a sweep for 11 yards and looked like a good substitute for Eskridge, who was out with a concussion. Dissly stiff armed Xavier Woods on 39 yard catch and run, adding to what we hope to be his collection of highlight-worthy stiff arms this season. Everett was also more involved this week, catching all 5 of his targets for 54 yards, including a hard-fought 14 yard catch and run where he dragged multiple defenders across the first down marker. Alex Collins also had a nasty stiff arm on Danielle Hunter for a 6 yard gain up the right sideline and continues to look like the best backup to Chris Carson.
On defense, Nkemdiche and Brooks both had good pressures that resulted in Cousins throwing the ball at the feet of a receiver. Taylor had a brilliant strip on 3rd down late in the game that led to a red zone stop.
Next on Deck: Can the Seahawks Avoid Disaster in Santa Clara?
The Seahawks, unfortunately, have a real shot at starting the season 1-4 with the next two games against stout division rivals. The 49ers haven’t exactly played the highest quality teams thus far, but barely lost against the Packers on Sunday night. Prior to that, the Niners nearly allowed a Goff-led Lions team to come back in Week 1 and edged a mediocre Eagles team in a low-scoring Week 2 affair.
The Seahawks have always played the 49ers tough, even during the best 49ers seasons, but with the way the Seahawks have looked thus far on defense, expectations should be curbed. The 49ers have seen a myriad of injuries to their RBs, but Shanahan remains one of the league’s most creative coaches and while the 49er defense may no longer be a top-tier unit, they’re certainly better than any of the defenses the Seahawks have faced thus far. It might be too early to declare this game a must-win, but it is certainly shaping up to be so.