During the first half the Seahawks’ offense looked the way people expected it to look before the season began. For the first time this season quarterback Geno Smith looked uncertain, running back Ken Walker III was contained, and Seattle managed just 57 yards and three first downs while being shut out. Things changed dramatically for the better in the second half as Smith found a rhythm and the Seahawks scored on three of their four possessions. It would have been four-for-four, but an unfortunate fumble by Smith in the red zone proved to be a costly turnover.
How many things went wrong for Seattle’s defense in this one? The Seahawks allowed the league’s worst rushing team to run for 161 yards. Tampa Bay converted 10-for-15 on third down. The pass rush generated no sacks and just one quarterback hit. Seattle did come up with two interceptions, but one of those was a gift when the Buccaneers inexplicably called a play in which Tom Brady was the receiver instead of the passer. It was summed up in the game’s final drive when the Seahawks, with multiple opportunities to make a stop and get the ball back to go for the win, allowed four first downs as Tampa Bay ran out the clock.
Had Seattle come back to win this one, the Seahawks would have had their special teams to thank for keeping the game from turning into a blowout in the first half. Specifically, punter Michael Dickson had two incredible long punts that pinned the Buccaneers inside their own 5-yard line to shift the field and affect Tampa Bay’s play calling. Kicker Jason Myers nailed a 55-yard field goal early in the second half, bailing receiver DK Metcalf out after his 15-yard penalty nearly pushed the Seahawks out of range. DeeJay Dallas had a couple questionable decisions when choosing whether to catch or return punts.
Credit the coaching staff for their halftime adjustments, because those are the reason why Tampa Bay didn’t run away with it. On offense, the immediate switch to quick passing on underneath routes was the spark Smith needed to get going. But whatever plan Seattle had coming into the game didn’t work as the offense looked in disarray, while the defense couldn’t generate any pressure and left holes in the secondary. Pete Carroll, after signs of change earlier this season, reverted to his conservative ways when he elected to punt on fourth-and-6 from the Tampa Bay 39 in the first quarter.
The first half may have been Seattle’s worst half of the season, and this one could have easily gotten out of hand, especially against a legendary quarterback like Brady. But in true Carroll-led-Seahawks fashion, they found a way to recover and make it interesting at the end, even if they didn’t get over the top. While Seattle saw its four-game winning streak snapped, the Seahawks head into their bye 6-4 and in first place in the NFC West, which is far better than anyone would have predicted at the start of the season.
– Nick Patterson, Herald writer