By John Boyle
The Seahawks dropped their season opener in Arizona, falling 20-16 to the Cardinals after failing to score after their final drive got them deep into Arizona territory.
So what are we to make of Seattle’s Week 1 loss? Well here are a few things that stood out.
1. Russell Wilson will indeed have an adjustment period.
Throughout the preseason, the Seahawks’ rookie quarterback was incredibly good, winning the starting job, and convincing a lot of people around the country that the Seahawks are legitimate contenders. Well in his first regular season game, Wilson was far from being a disaster, but he certainly had his struggles, going 18 of 34 for 153 yards, 1 TD and 1 interception, good for a passer rating of 62.5.
“We put ourselves in a good position, we just fell short,” Wilson told reporters after the game.
Of course, had one of Wilson’s passes in the end zone been caught on the final drive, we’d all be raving about his poise leading his team back. Sidney Rice (who was being interfered with) Doug Baldwin and Braylon Edward all had chances to make tough catches that would have won the game. None were true drops, again, they were tough plays, but all were balls that the receivers would tell you they could have caught, particularly Edwards chance on fourth down.
Wilson will be better, and he won’t face many defenses better than Arizona’s, but this was a good reminder that he will have his ups and downs this year.
“I’m definitely focused and excited to move on to the next game,” he said.
2. The pass rush isn’t fixed yet
Last year, Seattle’s defense was really good, but the one weakness was an inconsistent pass rush. The Seahawks drafted Bruce Irvin in the first round and signed defensive tackle Jason Jones hoping to change that. On Sunday, the only sack came from Chris Clemons, the guy who has provided most of the pass rush the last two years. This should improve in time, but the lack of quarterback pressure has to be a bit concerning considering the question marks Arizona has on its offensive line.
3. Leon Washington is still a game-changer
Seattle’s offense didn’t have many long drives, but thanks in large part to Washington, the Seahawks were able to stay in the game anyway. Washington returned a kickoff 83 yards, setting up Seattle’s only touchdown, and returned a punt 52 yards to set up a field goal.
4. Penalties are still a concern
The Seahawks were one of the most penalized teams in the NFL last season, and Pete Carroll has said repeatedly that he hopes his team can improve in that area this year. But on Sunday, the Seahawks were flagged for 13 penalties, matching their high from last season. Now you can argue that the replacement officials might have been flag-happy at times, or that may have slightly inflated that total (Arizona was called for 10 penalties) but even if a few of those were unnecessary calls, that’s still too many.
5. The replacement refs caught a break
With the Seahawks driving late in the game, Doug Baldwin was injured attempting to make a diving catch. His injury in the final two minutes should have cost the Seahawks a timeout, but the officials told Carroll after that play that they still had one left. Believing they had a timeout remaining, the Seahawks ran the ball inside the final minute, then called timeout. Arizona rightly complained, but the Seahawks were awarded the time out. Now we don’t know what the Seahawks would have done on that play had they been told they were out of timeouts, but regardless, it would have looked very bad for the league (though very good for Seahawks fans) if the Seahawks had won after using a fourth timeout.
Asked about it after the game, referee Bruce Hermansen told a pool reporter: “It was my error. We gave them (Seattle) the additional timeout because of the incomplete pass stopping the clock before the injury occurred. When in effect, the clock has no bearing on the play at all, whether it’s stopped or running, we should not have given them (Seattle) the additional timeout.”