The Seattle Seahawks keep finding new ways to lose games with a fourth quarter lead, which is the connecting thread between all four losses this season. It actually dates back to last year’s Super Bowl.
Yes, the Seahawks dropped a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter in their loss to the Patriots last February. The decision to pass on the goal line instead of punching it in with Marshawn Lynch has been the most memorable call and moment of that game, but the Seahawks had plenty of opportunities to avoid going into a do-or-die situation.
And this season has been more of the same. A loss to the Rams in overtime after already leading by a touchdown with 4:39 to go. A loss to the Packers after heading into the fourth quarter with a one point lead, only to get shut out in the fourth. A devastating loss to the Bengals after entering the fourth quarter with a 17-point lead. The Bengals scored 20 consecutive points to win in overtime, including a field goal as time expired to force it. And then again vs the Panthers: A nine point lead with less than 10 minutes to go in the game, but giving up a touchdown with 32 seconds left on the clock sent them to a fourth loss in six games.
The criticism can be spread to both the offense and the defense. No defense has allowed more sacks than the Seahawks, which gives Russell Wilson a chance to run for his life more than anyone else in the league. The stagnation and lack of creativity is also difficult to ignore, but it might all begin from the offensive line that got extremely weaker the moment they traded for Jimmy Graham while losing a center. They got a great receiving tight end, but one that does very poorly when he’s required to block.
But the overall numbers for Seattle on offense aren’t that terrible. The problem has been the fourth quarters. Even in the win over the Chicago Bears (with Jimmy Clausen at quarterback) they didn’t score a touchdown, only two field goals. In their 13-10 win over the Detroit Lions they didn’t score a single point in the fourth. The play calling and execution has been predictable at best with the game on the line.
But the Seahawks have been carried in a way by their defense over the last three seasons. This year it’s clear that something isn’t working. When teams need to make a play against the Seahawks and especially their secondary, they get it. The Detroit Lions also got it, but a referee mistake is the only thing standing between Seattle and a league worst (tied) 1-5 record. They’re still 4th in total defense, but they’re allowing a 91.3 passer rating (only 17th in the NFL) and for quarterbacks to complete 65.6% of their passes against them, 22nd in the NFL. Their mediocre in getting to the quarterback (13 sacks) and haven’t been able to force too many turnovers.
The worst number? Seattle are 28th in the NFL in 4th quarter defense, giving up 9.2 points in the final 15 minutes. That’s the true story of their season, to this point. A team with the same playmakers on both ends of the line, but for some reason, they’ve been unable to make or stop plays in close games with the clock winding down. They average only 4.5 points per game in the fourth. This might suggest that it could have gone here or there in these games, but with a pattern emerging, there’s more than one reason to be worried about.