Playing without star quarterback Russell Wilson for the first time since they drafted him in 2012, the Seattle Seahawks suffered a 23-20 overtime loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers last Sunday, Oct. 17.
After trailing 14-0 at halftime, the Seahawks rallied in the second half to force overtime. But backup quarterback Geno Smith lost a fumble deep in Seattle territory in the extra period, setting up Pittsburgh’s game-winning field goal.
The loss dropped the Seahawks to 2-4 and leaves their season in danger of slipping away, especially with Wilson sidelined for at least two more games with an injured finger.
Before Seattle faces the New Orleans Saints in a virtual must-win game tonight, here’s the post-Week 6 edition of ‘Hawks by the numbers’ — a weekly numerical look at notable trends and storylines surrounding the Seahawks:
0-2 — Seattle’s record in overtime this season: The Seahawks’ loss to Pittsburgh was their second overtime defeat of the year. Seattle also lost in overtime to Tennessee in Week 2, when it blew a 14-point fourth-quarter lead in one of its worst collapses in recent memory. It’s a reminder that as poorly as things have gone for the Seahawks this season, they’re also just a few plays away from being 4-2. But such is life in the NFL, where the margin between winning and losing is often razor-thin. That was especially the case against Pittsburgh, as the Seattle squandered several golden opportunities that could’ve changed the outcome. In the first half, the Seahawks weren’t able to haul in a red-zone interception off defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche’s deflected pass at the 5-yard line. Early in the fourth quarter, after taking over at the Steelers 35 with a prime chance to take the lead, a first-down holding penalty ultimately derailed the possession and led to a punt. And then there was Jamal Adams’ dropped potential interception late in regulation, which would’ve prevented a Pittsburgh go-ahead field goal and possibly given the Seahawks a chance at a game-winner. Seattle had opportunities to win this game, despite a miserable first half. But as is so often the case in tight games, several missed chances ended up looming large.
5 — Times Geno Smith was sacked: Making his first start since 2017, Smith played about as well as one could’ve hoped. The 31-year-old backup quarterback gave the Seahawks a chance to win, completing 23 of 32 passes for 209 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. However, his one major blemish was the strip-sack fumble he lost in overtime that ultimately decided the game. That was one of a season-high five sacks allowed by Seattle, including several particularly damaging ones. Early in the fourth quarter, Smith was sacked on a third-and-2 play-action rollout from the Pittsburgh 7, which forced the Seahawks to settle for a field goal. On the first overtime possession, Smith was sacked on a third-and-4 from the Pittsburgh 45, which forced a punt. And then there was the game-deciding strip-sack on Seattle’s ensuing possession, when T.J. Watt jarred the ball free as Smith was trying to scramble up the middle. The blame for the sacks was split, with Pro Football Focus attributing three to the Seahawks’ offensive line and two to Smith.
101 — Rushing yards by Alex Collins: After a scoreless first half, Seattle kickstarted its offense with a run-heavy drive to open the third quarter. The Seahawks were suddenly running the ball at will, marching downfield for a 75-yard TD drive with runs on nine of their 10 plays. Collins had eight carries for 58 yards on that drive and finished the night with 20 carries for 101 yards and a TD. The fifth-year backup was Seattle’s first 100-yard rusher since Week 15 of 2019, ending a streak of 26 games without one. The Seahawks racked up 110 yards rushing in the third quarter, which was more than they had over the course of the entire game in four of their other five contests this season. However, it’s fair to wonder how much of Seattle’s third-quarter rushing success was a product of Pittsburgh’s defensive scheme. The Steelers played mostly nickel and dime packages in the third quarter, which left them more vulnerable to the run. After Pittsburgh switched back to more base defense in the fourth quarter, the Seahawks didn’t have much success on the ground. Seattle ran for just 20 yards seven carries in the fourth quarter and overtime, including three rushes for negative yardage.
72.6 — Tre Brown’s Pro Football Focus coverage grade: Brown made a strong first impression in his NFL debut against Pittsburgh. After spending the first five games on injured reserve because of a knee injury, the rookie fourth-round draft pick out of Oklahoma filled in at left cornerback when Sidney Jones exited with an injury. Brown posted a PFF coverage grade of 72.6 out of 100, which was the third-highest by a Seattle outside cornerback this season. D.J. Reed has the other two highest coverage grades, with a 77.4 grade against Tennessee and a 72.7 grade against San Francisco. Brown played textbook defense on a deep third-down incompletion in the first quarter and allowed just two catches for 9 yards on five targets. He also had a big third-down hit on Pittsburgh’s first overtime possession that forced a punt. The Seahawks have had all sorts of struggles at cornerback this season, but Brown’s encouraging debut provides hope that he could help stabilize the position.
10 — Years since Seattle has started 2-5: The Seahawks’ Monday night clash against the Saints tonight is about as close to a must-win as it gets at this point of the season. A loss would drop Seattle to 2-5 for the first time since 2011, back when Pete Carroll was in his second year as head coach. The Seahawks recovered from a 2-4 start to reach the playoffs in 2015, but that was with a healthy Wilson and a generational defense. The road certainly appears more difficult this year, with Wilson out for at least two more games and Seattle featuring a significantly less talented roster than it did back in the Legion of Boom days. The one benefit for the Seahawks, compared to 2015, is that the regular season is one game longer and the playoff field includes one more team per conference. But a loss to the Saints — especially given that New Orleans appears to be one of the teams Seattle would be challenging for a wild-card spot — may very well sink the Seahawks into a hole that’s simply too deep to overcome.