You never say never in the NFL, where logic and common sense tend to go out the window, but Monday night’s loss to Washington felt like the Seahawks’ last gasp, the final nail in Seattle’s playoff coffin. We saw plenty of laundry with 10 flags thrown at FedEx Field Monday night, none more pivotal than an illegal formation penalty against the Seahawks, nullifying what would have been a successful onside kick.
Per NFL rules, kickoffs require teams to line up at least two players between the numbers and hashmarks. You needed an eagle eye to catch it, but this screengrab captured by Twitter account Football Zebras shows the Seahawks were guilty of lining up just one player on the right side of their formation. Without the penalty, the Seahawks would have had the ball at their own 45-yard-line with 15 seconds—albeit with no timeouts—remaining in a two-point game.
It’s a miracle the Seahawks even had a pulse, considering Washington’s edge in time of possession (41:40 compared to Seattle’s 18:20). Washington’s kicker, Joey Slye, was injured on a failed extra point early in the game (defensive end Rasheem Green returned it for a two-point conversion), prompting them to go for it on fourth-and-goal from the Seahawks’ four-yard-line with 2:25 remaining. After Washington turned the ball over on downs (Logan Thomas was initially credited with a touchdown but replay overturned it), Seattle’s offense marched 96 yards on 10 plays, cutting the deficit to two with just 15 seconds to go. The Seahawks could have tied it up with a two-point conversion, but their comeback bid was denied by Kendall Fuller, who intercepted Russell Wilson’s pass to Freddie Swain.
Jason Myers’ onside kick could have extended the game, but alas, the whistle brigade anchored by lead official Clay Martin were Johnny on the spot, thwarting Seattle’s comeback efforts in one fell swoop. Though the call was technically correct, it made for an anticlimactic ending with many on social media lamenting a bogus rule that most fans didn’t know existed.
Monday’s heartbreaker in D.C. dropped the Seahawks to 3-8, leaving Seattle on the verge of its first losing season since 2011. Playing with an injured finger on his throwing hand, Wilson has been a shell of himself, losing each of his last four starts while struggling to connect with Pro Bowler DK Metcalf, who was held to a single catch Monday night. As the Seahawks’ freefall continues, there’s a growing sense Wilson’s time in Seattle has run its course with a roster and coaching overhaul potentially benefiting all parties.