The Seahawks blew yet another fourth-quarter lead at home against the Panthers on Sunday, after Cam Newton connected with Greg Olsen for a 26-yard touchdown with 36 seconds remaining. This magnifies a very troubling trend for Seattle.
Finishing has been the biggest problem for the Seahawks over the season's first month-plus, an issue that has been readily apparent since Super Bowl XLIX in Arizona, where Seattle blew a 10-point fourth quarter lead and lost to the Patriots. The Seahawks blew a fourth-quarter lead again against the Rams in Week 1. They did it again against the Packers in Week 2.
It nearly happened again against Detroit, but a miraculous punch-out by Kam Chancellor and lucky no-call in the final minute saved the Seahawks' bacon in that one. It happened again in Cincinnati in epic fashion, and guess what, it happened again this week against the Panthers. The only boring fourth quarter for the Seahawks this year came against the Jimmy Clausen-led Bears.
Fans in Seattle were naturally holding their collective breath as the Seahawks again carried a fourth quarter lead for the eighth straight game -- five of which they'd previously lost, including a 17-point meltdown in Cincinnati last week -- and if you were comfortable with a nine-point lead as the fourth frame started, you must have a serious case of ataraxia, a condition characterized by freedom from worry or any other preoccupation.
The turn of events unfolded like a recurring nightmare. Seattle quickly went three-and-out on their first possession of the quarter, and the Panthers followed that up with an 80-yard touchdown drive. The Seahawks' subsequent drive went nowhere, and a big miscommunication between Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman -- two All-Pros, mind you -- allowed Cam Newton to find Olsen in the end zone for the go-ahead score with under a minute left, capping yet another 80-yard drive. Unbelievably, the Seahawks had managed to give up their sixth fourth quarter lead in their last eight games.
What's the culprit? Well, there are likely many. It's a whole-team disaster, though. Start with a complete lack of late-game offense, a pinch of toothlessness on defense of late and a dash of immense self-doubt by re-living near-identical disasters over, and over and over again. No matter what the scenario is, it always seems like the same conclusion. The Seahawks are like a real-life version of the movie Final Destination.
So, the NFC's representative in the Super Bowl the last two seasons now drop to 2-4 with the loss, and look like a shadow of themselves on both sides of the ball. The Legion of Boom is no longer intimidating to opponents and have simply been picked apart in fourth quarters against all level of opponents.
Seattle is now in the NFC West's cellar, tied with the Niners at 2-4, trailing the 2-3 Rams and 4-2 Cardinals. These fourth quarter problems are the reason they're looking at missing the playoffs for the first time since 2011.
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