STEVE: What a weird game from Seattle’s perspective. The Seahawks receive a 100-yard rushing game from Marshawn Lynch, stop Dallas from scoring touchdowns three times in the red zone, don’t allow a sack until the final minute to a team that features DeMarcus Ware (most sacks, 27.5, in the NFL since 2010), and still fall to the Cowboys 23-13. Goes to show what can happen when you whiff on about 30 tackles and toss a couple of ugly interceptions.
ART: This was a real setback game for Tarvaris Jackson. He had a hard time all week in practice with his strained chest muscle. He’ll never say how much it affected him, but even a little is a lot for the throwing arm. Three picks (the last a bad call) left him with a QB rating of 40.4. The results say he’s either hurt or regressing, even when Lynch’s 135 yards (his first 100-yard rushing game of the season) against a good defense took pressure off the passing game.
STEVE: The Seahawks had some success this year, particularly against the New York Giants, when they used the no-huddle offense. They largely abandoned that Sunday, meaning that Jackson didn’t do what Jackson does best. I commend Jackson for playing with his injury, but it’s hard to regress when, as an NFL quarterback, you have never really progressed.
ART: Asked post-game whether this was Jackson’s worst game, Pete Carroll deflected the question, saying he doesn’t measure such things: “You might be right; I don’t know,” he said. For understandable reasons, Jackson feels the pressure to make things happen, and he’s forcing some passes while being hesitant to run, perhaps because of injury (and perhaps because he knows who is backing him up). But that means he’s trapped by indecision.
STEVE: I didn’t think so going in, but this became a winnable game for the Seahawks. Dallas, ahead 6-3, had a shot at burying Seattle in the first half. But Richard Sherman jarred loose the ball from Dez Bryant after a Bryant catch-and-run brought him to the goal line. The Seahawks recovered and a had a good, 13-play drive, but settled for a field goal and a halftime tie. Their first four possessions of the second half were five-and-out, blocked field goal, interception, interception. With the exception of the block, all had more to do with Seattle mistakes than Dallas defensive brilliance.
ART: Carroll again lamented the penalties, including seven in the second half, that continue to haunt. The Seahawks entered the day the fourth-most penalized team in the league, and he said, “I’m disappointed we’re still talking about it.” He said there was a cadence problem between Jackson and the line that accounted for some of the false starts, then regretted talking about it. A cadence problem should be fixed in preseason, not in week 8.
STEVE: In fact, 10 penalties for 88 yards overall. Some is a function of so many new, young players, some of it is lack of focus and just plain slop.
ART: Carroll keeps saying the penalty problem is fixable, and it has yet to happen. Youth is a part of it, but a fair amount of that is on him, because he’s in charge of creating the communication and discipline to reduce the mental errors. The one aspect that does show growth is the line clicked well enough to have a season-high rushing total, as well as protect Jackson enough to deny a sack until the last moments. So it’s not hopeless, but they are 2-6, losers of four of five, out of the playoff hunt already, and the Baltimore Ravens’ ferocious defense (15.7 points a game, second best in the league) are coming to the Clink Sunday. Carroll has to set up the second half with goals that have nothing to do with anything beyond making collective progress. Not very sexy, for either players or fans.
STEVE: Part of that collective progress has to involve developing some consistency on both sides. For example, the Seahawks came into Sunday’s game with one of the better run defenses in the league, but lapsed badly, allowing Dallas 163 yards on the ground. Every week, it’s something different. If Carroll can create reliability somewhere, the Seahawks could win a few games — not enough to book Super Bowl reservations, but steal a couple like Sunday’s wasted opportunity.
ART: Consistency is a hallmark of veteran teams, and Carroll deliberately decided to make this a young team. I understand the principle, but there are unintended consequences. A good example was in the third quarter, prior to the blocked field goal. On third down, Jackson locked in on Sidney Rice heading into the end zone, where he was double-covered. Jackson had to throw it away, never looking at an open Mike Williams on the sideline. For reasons of injury, a lousy offense and his own lack of focus, Williams is a non-factor this season when he was the No. 1 receiving weapon a year ago. That is a squandering of a franchise asset they can ill afford. All QBs overlook open targets from time to time, but as long as Jackson can’t read defenses and know well his options, the chances to win close games — and this one was never out of hand — vanish.