Here’s how the Seattle Seahawks grade out in their 27-23 loss to the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday at Lumen Field:
It was a considerably improved performance by Seattle’s offense. The Seahawks broke a string of six quarters in which they didn’t accrue a single point on offense by scoring on their first two possessions and five of their first six. Quarterback Geno Smith generally received good protection as he threw for 325 yards, and he was able to get the ball downfield more than the previous two games. The early success running the ball petered out as the game progressed, and the sequence when Seattle was positioned for the game-winning touchdown — holding penalty, sack, interception — was fatal.
The positive: Seattle had two takeaways, and the second one nearly led to the game-winning score. Otherwise, this was an ugly game defensively. Seattle gave up yards in chunks, both on the ground and through the air as Atlanta had all kinds of explosive plays behind journeyman quarterback Marcus Mariota, who looked like he was back in his University of Oregon days. Tackling continued to be an issue as Falcons running back Cordarrelle Patterson regularly managed yards after contact, including on his first-down run that clinched the victory. Even the takeaways came with asterisks as they were largely self-inflicted by the Falcons.
Special teams didn’t play much of a role in this one, but what Seattle did was positive. Punter Michael Dickson was only called upon twice, and both times he managed to pin the Falcons inside their own 11-yard line. Kicker Jason Myers made all five of his kicks, though none of them were longer than an extra point. Kickoff returner DeeJay Dallas has been much more of a threat this year than in the past, and although he didn’t break anything against Atlanta he provide solid field position when he got his chances.
Seattle’s offensive improvement had its roots in coaching. Coach Pete Carroll talked during the week about Smith being given more freedom to air the ball out, and he was true to his word. It also led to better utilization of receiver DK Metcalf, who was back to being a deep threat. Carroll showed an unusual willingness to call the quarterback sneak and go for it on fourth down — though one wonders if he’d make a different choice on the decision to kick the field goal on fourth-and-2 from the 7. The question about the defense is, “How much is it coaching and how much is it personnel?”
This was an opportunity lost for the Seahawks. Atlanta came into the game winless, and the Falcons struggled on defense in their first two games. That proved to be the perfect tonic for a Seattle offense going through struggles of its own. However, whereas the offense couldn’t pick up the defense last week, it was the other way around in this one as the defense couldn’t do anything to help the offense out. The offensive improvement was an important development for the Seahawks, but it was no consolation in the standings.
– Nick Patterson, Herald writer