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Analysis: Seahawks have faltered with chances to prove they’re among NFL’s best

Ravens destroyed Seattle’s defense with 515 total yards

By TIM BOOTH, AP Sports Writer
Published: November 6, 2023, 6:15pm
3 Photos
Baltimore Ravens safety Geno Stone (26) and cornerback Marlon Humphrey, right, break up a pass intended for Seattle Seahawks wide receiver DK Metcalf (14) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 5, 2023, in Baltimore.
Baltimore Ravens safety Geno Stone (26) and cornerback Marlon Humphrey, right, break up a pass intended for Seattle Seahawks wide receiver DK Metcalf (14) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 5, 2023, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon) Photo Gallery

RENTON — Given the opportunity to prove they could compete with an opponent deemed one of the elite in the league, the Seattle Seahawks failed badly and in the process showed there are major concerns going into the second half of the season despite sitting in a tie for the NFC West lead.

Seattle’s 37-3 loss at Baltimore on Sunday amplified the gap between a good team such as the Seahawks and one such as the Ravens.

Sitting at 5-3 through eight games isn’t a failure for Seattle. The Seahawks are tied for the division lead and should be right in the mix for a playoff spot into the final weeks of the regular season.

But it’s how those three losses have played out that leaves an unsatisfying taste to what the Seahawks accomplished in the first half of the season.

There was the surprising blowout loss at home to the Rams to open the season; the frustrating red zone failures in a four-point loss at Cincinnati; and then Sunday’s romp by the Ravens — the second-worst loss of Pete Carroll’s tenure in Seattle.

It’s clear Seattle has the potential of being good. They won at Detroit. They have a nice win over Cleveland.

But the overall evidence is lacking so far to believe the Seahawks are a team capable of making a run should they get to the postseason.

“I would like that this game was maybe a marker that this is where things shifted, and we came right back and got back on track, and we see us come back to who we are,” Carroll said. “We’ll see. This is a big deal.”

WHAT’S WORKING

Until Sunday’s effort against Baltimore, the Seahawks defense was one of the highlights of the season.

Seattle started Sunday with the eighth-ranked run defense in the NFL and was one of the best at limiting teams in yards per carry. That all got blown up by the Ravens, who had 515 total yards and 298 yards rushing, the most yards on the ground allowed during Carroll’s tenure.

It was a concerning performance but one Seattle believes is an outlier. The return of Bobby Wagner and Jarran Reed has been as important for the defensive success along with the drafting of rookie cornerback Devon Witherspoon and the signings of Dre’Mont Jones and Mario Edwards Jr.

WHAT NEEDS HELP

Geno Smith needs a bit of a reset. The past five games were far from his best, especially when it comes to taking care of the ball. Smith has thrown six interceptions, lost two fumbles and been sacked 13 times in the past five games.

It’s not all on Smith as he’s been one of the more pressured quarterbacks in the league and a litany of injuries on the offensive line seems to be adding up and causing issues in protection.

But Smith must be less careless and make sure some of the miscommunications with his wide receivers that have turned into interceptions comes to an end.

STOCK UP

Edge rusher Boye Mafe is turning into a star in his second season. Carroll noted that Mafe showed continual improvement during his rookie season and felt he had the best offseason of anyone on Seattle’s roster.

It’s showing now in the regular season. Mafe has had a sack in six straight games, tying a franchise record. He missed the Week 2 win over Detroit with a knee injury and has had a sack in every game since.

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STOCK DOWN

It’s been a mostly quiet first half for DK Metcalf — at least catching the ball. Metcalf had just one reception for 50 yards against the Ravens. He’s only posted one 100-yard game thus far and hasn’t had more than six receptions in a game. Metcalf missed one game and has been dealing with injuries to his ribs and hip for weeks. His issues with penalties garnered attention early on. The Seahawks would like to see that attention placed on his pass catching moving forward.

INJURIES

Seattle felt it was pretty healthy this past week, all things considered. Shoulder injuries to rookie defensive end Derick Hall and running back/special teams standout DeeJay Dallas suffered Sunday could be troublesome. Carroll said Hall was feeling better on Monday while they’ll have to wait for a better idea on Dallas’ availability.

Most important for Seattle would be clarity on right tackle Abraham Lucas and his possible return. Lucas has been out since Week 1, but Carroll said Monday the hope is he’ll practice next week.

KEY NUMBER

30 — That is Seattle’s ranking league-wide on third downs, both offensively and defensively. Seattle is converting just 31.9% of its third down chances and was 1 of 12 against Baltimore. They are giving up 45.3% conversions on third downs defensively and each of the first three games allowed teams to convert at a 50% or better rate. That combination doesn’t work long term and must improve the second half of the season.

NEXT STEPS

The next two weeks are vitally important to how Seattle’s season goes because of what comes after.

The Seahawks will host Washington (4-5) followed by a trip to face the Rams (3-6).

After that comes four brutal weeks for the Seahawks: home to San Francisco on Thanksgiving, at Dallas on a Thursday night, at San Francisco, home for Philadelphia.

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