I’m conditioned to not really like these games being played in another country. It seems like undue stress on the two teams who have to go all the way over there, change around their whole body clocks, play on VASTLY inferior fields, and then have to turn right around and play the next week (if you choose to not have your BYE follow it). If every single team in the league had to do it every single year, I guess that’s one thing. But, either it’s on a rotation of teams, or it’s just random selection. Then, there’s the whole thing about losing one of your home games because of a blatant cash grab by the league.
And, I’ll just add – for a team like the Seahawks, who has to travel the most air miles in the league by a considerable margin almost every single year – you’re even further hampering our competitive balance.
That being said, it was kind of fun waking up at 6:30am with my dad and brother, having a big breakfast, and watching a football game before all the other football games of the day got going.
What wasn’t fun was watching how the Seahawks played through three quarters.
I won’t say the defense completely reverted back to the way things were in the first month of the season – they weren’t the worst I’ve ever seen – but this was a clear and obvious step back from our recent efficiency. The Bucs were able to move the ball kinda sorta at will. They rarely hurt themselves with penalties or negative plays (aside from the two big interceptions, obviously), so they were able to stay ahead of the chains and keep their offense moving in one direction. Lots of third downs were converted (10 of 15 in total), thanks mostly to them being in 3rd & short situations.
That meant, obviously, the Bucs were able to run the ball exceedingly well. 44 for 161, which isn’t a great average, but is more than enough when your quarterback (one Tom Brady) goes 22 for 29 for 258. You could argue if it weren’t for a Brady pick thrown right at Cody Barton for some reason, and that asinine trick play where Leonard Fournette tried to toss one to Brady lined up out wide, the Bucs would’ve won in a laugher.
As it stands, the Seahawks pulled it to 21-16, before the Bucs ran the last four minutes off the clock.
All of our points came in the second half, with 13 of them coming in the fourth quarter. Discounting the two picks by the Bucs, the play of the game was an incredibly stupid Geno Smith fumble on what was apparently a designed quarterback run of some kind on 2nd & goal. If the design of that play was to look like a blackout drunk trying to find a potted plant to piss in, then mission accomplished.
The Bucs defense was exactly what I thought it was: very stout against the run, while potentially beatable through the air. Kenneth Walker was limited to 17 rushing yards on 10 carries. But, when we started throwing to him (mostly in the second half), he came alive for 55 yards on 6 receptions. D.K. Metcalf was able to get his and probably deserved to be targeted more (6 for 71), and Tyler Lockett and Marquise Goodwin both caught TDs late.
It was cool to see Tariq Woolen deke the Bucs into throwing a pass towards Tom Brady, who slipped and fell as the ball was severely underthrown. I’m told that Cody Barton had a good game, even though it seemed like he got swallowed up every time someone went to block him. It was REALLY unfortunate that we spent all week working on stopping the pass, then proceeded to not only get run all over, but also generate zero pressure on Brady whatsoever.
This game feels like a missed opportunity. It’s also pretty galling that we’re 0-3 against the NFC South, considering their record against everyone else. On the one hand, that’s a significant tie-breaker we just cost ourselves, if indeed we proceed to win our division, as the Bucs look like a shoo-in to win theirs. On the other hand, that’s a significant tie-breaker we just earned ourselves in the form of potential draft position for next year. I don’t know what to root for anymore! My brain is broken!
Where that leaves us is we’re 6-4 heading into our BYE week. One can fairly safely assume the 49ers will be 6-4 after they beat the Cardinals next week. That puts us in a dead heat for the division lead with 7 games to play. We come out playing the hapless Raiders, Rams, and Panthers, before that showdown with the 49ers on Thursday night. 5-2 feels like a safe estimate if we play up to our abilities. I would say 4-3 is the absolute minimum, which still puts us at 10-7, and a very good shot at the post-season. But, we could go as high as 7-0 or 6-1 if we catch some breaks.
I’m more than fine with the timing of this BYE week. Let’s rest up and get healthy and come back to sprint towards the finish with everyone else.