Week 17 was ugly. While the Seattle Seahawks had an easy path to clinch a postseason berth if they had won their final two games, most 12s probably did not assume things would be that easy. We have watched too much of the 2023-24 Seahawks to know nothing comes, well...easy.
But ugly? Few probably expected that. The Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Seahawks 30-23 in Week 17 in a game that did not feel that close. Pittsburgh ran over, between, and through Seattle defenders.
Seattle now has the worst run defense in the NFL over the last 11 games, both in terms of yards allowed per rush and yards allowed per game. Remeber how we knew the 2022 run defense had to be fixed this past offseason to make 2023 better? We were lied to with Seattle's moves and the run defense is statistically worse than last year over the last 11 games. Here are the grades for Week 17.
Seattle Seahawks offense overall
Did Seattle's offense play well enough to win many games? Yes. I am not saying the group was perfect, but they weren't awful. The Seahawks averaged a whopping 7.5 yards per play which would easily rank first in the NFL if stretched over an entire year. But Seattle once again could not convert third downs going just 3 for 9.
DK Metcalf had a good game except for a critical holding call that forced Seattle to end the drive with a field goal instead of a potential touchdown. Did the official made a good call on the hold? Not really as it was the kind of play that happens on every down. But Metcalf had 5 catches for 106 yards. Tyler Lockett and Jaxon Smith-Njigba had just one catch, though JSN's was for a touchdown.
Kenneth Walker ran the ball inconsistently well and finished with 53 yards on 10 carries plus 3 catches for 22 yards. He had a 24-yard gain negated by the Metcalf penalty. Zach Charbonnet continued a recent trend of ineffectiveness. He had 2 carries but just 2 yards.
It is simply tough for an offense to accomplish much if they don't get the ball because their defense is incapable of stopping anyone.
Geno Smith's grade
Smith did have a fumble when he was under pressure and had the ball hit out of his hands. I put this out because I have noticed a bunch of comments on social media that almost hint that Smith was a reason Seattle lost. That's just some Geno Smith hate and he was in no way the reason Seattle lost. Overall, Smith was 23 of 33 for 290 yards, and a touchdown pass, with a quarterback rating of 106.9, and he ran 3 times for 33 yards with a long of 25. Smith was not the reason Seattle lost and one of the few reasons the score was even close.
Seahawks defense overall
The best example of how the Seahawks played on defense was when Najee Harris ran wide and not only stiff-armed Seattle cornerback Riq Woolen but made him look like a child. Pittsburgh had a season-high 468 total yards, a second-best 202 rushing yards, a third-best 266 passing yards, a season-best 25 first downs, and a second-best 30 points scored. I point all that out because whatever Pittsburgh wanted to do on offense, they could. Seattle's defense was an embarrassment.
Seattle was credited with 20 missed tackles, but it felt like so much more. Six players had multiple missed tackles. Seattle also had just one sack and two quarterback hits. Pittsburgh also went 6 for 13 on third downs and 2 for 3 on fourth downs and held the ball for 37:33 compared to Seattle's 22:27.
Because the defense was so atrocious, I want to point out two players that were not that bad. While the Seahawks really need the second-round pick back they gave up for Leonard Williams in a midseason trade, Williams has been very good since coming to Seattle. He had Seattle's only sack and both quarterback hits. Williams didn't miss a tackle either.
Grade for the defense: F
The Seahawks seemed flat coming out for the game; a game they needed to win at home to try to make the postseason. Seattle knew the Steelers were going to run the ball and still couldn't stop Pittsburgh. Sure, tackling was a problem - tackling technique is also a coaching issue, though - but Seattle seemed incapable of adjusting to what Pittsburgh was doing and the Steelers had been anemic offensively most of the year.