Breaking down the turning point in Seattle Seahawks demoralizing Week 17 loss

Just when it seemed like the Seattle Seahawks were turning the page, they put together a disheartening performance against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 17.

Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports
facebooktwitterreddit

Entering Week 17, it felt as if the Seattle Seahawks were a team of destiny. After an excellent start to the season, a rough middle stretch had its playoff chances looking slim to none. But, after rallying behind down 4 under two minutes in back-to-back weeks with drives led by Drew Lock and Geno Smith, it felt as if Seattle was poised for a run.

While the playoffs still remain in sight, the Seattle Seahawks will once again rely on another team losing in order to get a date to the big dance. A horrendous defensive performance in Week 17 have the Seahawks on the outside looking in. The tackling on display, or the lack of it, made it feel as if you were watching a team whose season was over.

The Pittsburgh Steelers walked into opposing territory and took the fight to the Seattle Seahawks. Punching them in the mouth possession after possession. Having so much success with the run game, Mason Rudolph was able to pick apart this secondary. One big play down the field in particular felt like the dagger in what was supposed to be the Seahawks storybook ending.

Game changing play for Seattle Seahawks in Week 17: Pickens apart the secondary

Trailing 24-17 in the second half, the Seattle Seahawks were able to move the ball down the field only to settle for a field goal. In the early portion of the 4th quarter, now trailing 24-20, the Seahawks had a chance to force back-to-back punts for a Steelers offense that was having success for the majority of the evening. Watching the game, obviously, Seattle was struggling to stop the run. Whether it was gaping holes created by Pittsburgh's offensive line or poor tackling, the Steelers were having their way.

I do not know whether it was a part of the game plan or not, but I felt that if Seattle was able to create third and long situations, they should get aggressive in blitzing. While there weren't many third and longs, Seattle was presented with a chance when forcing a 3rd and 7 at the Pittsburgh 44-yard line with just over 11 minutes left in the game.

At the start of this play, you will notice the Seahawks show blitz with 6 defenders across the line of scrimmage. Both Devin Bush and Bobby Wagners lining up in the a-gap. This is sort of a mid-blitz scheme where both linebackers rush up the middle. However, Bobby Wagner runs a delayed stunt hoping to catch the left guard slipping. With HB Jaylen Warren serving as another blocker on this play, it gave Rudolph enough time to keep his eyes down the field.

In doing so, he was able to hit George Pickens on a 34-yard catch that set up the Steelers in field goal range. When watching the play, you will notice Rudolph releases the ball before Pickens even looks back at his quarterback. At first glance, it appeared as if Pickens wasn't going to be able to track the ball. After making a circus catch and moving the chains, the Steelers were able to extend their lead back to 7. Even though it was a ridiculous catch by Pickens, he had clearly beaten steps Michael Jackson on his route.

There is no guarantee if the Seahawks got the stop, that they would come down the field and take the lead. In fact, on the ensuing Seattle possession, Geno Smith turned the ball over, essentially fumbling away any chance of tying this game. However, with what Seattle had been doing over the last two weeks, it felt that one defensive stop or turnover could have shifted this game the other way.

As we just entered the new year, it feels as if we are still in 2023 as the Seattle Seahawks need to win on Sunday as well as a Green Bay Packers loss in order for them to get into the playoffs.

Read more from 12th Man Rising

manual