GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The Seattle Seahawks will head into the offseason with the not-so-small task of needing to fix a defense that ranked in the bottom third of the league in several of the most important statistical categories.
In the closing minutes Sunday night against the Green Bay Packers, all they needed was one more stop.
Seattle's defense looked like it got one until officials ruled that Packers tight end Jimmy Graham got just enough yardage on his third-and-9 reception then upheld their ruling upon review. And so a Seahawks season that was defined by narrow victories -- an NFL record-tying 10 one-score wins during the regular season then another in the wild-card round -- came to an end by a few inches.
What might have been another improbable Seahawks comeback was instead a 28-23 loss in the divisional round, their ninth straight defeat at Lambeau Field since they last won there in 1999.
Seattle will wonder all offseason what would have happened had quarterback Russell Wilson, owner of an NFL-high 32 game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime, got a chance for another one. Wilson put on his Superman cape and rallied the Seahawks back from a 21-3 halftime deficit, leading them on three straight touchdown drives to begin the second half.
Troubling trend: The Seahawks finished with six hits on Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (compared to Green Bay's 10 on Wilson). One of Seattle's two sacks was only a sack in the technical sense, as it came on a Rodgers scramble and slide just shy of the line of scrimmage. The other came from Shaquem Griffin in the fourth quarter. Jadeveon Clowney made an impact (seven tackles, a half-sack, two tackles for loss), but the Seahawks didn't have anyone else getting any semblance of consistent pressure on Rodgers. The pass rush has to be a priority for the Seahawks this offseason, and it won't be as simple as drafting someone in April. Stud pass-rushers are hard to find unless you're picking in the top half of the first round. Seattle will have the No. 27 overall pick.
Biggest hole in the game plan: Expecting Seahawks cornerback Tre Flowers and rookie nickelback Ugo Amadi to cover Packers wideout Davante Adams. Not that the Seahawks had much of a choice, other than to have top cornerback Shaquill Griffin shadow Green Bay's No. 1 receiver, which is something Seattle hardly does. Flowers was overmatched by Adams, who caught eight passes for 160 yards and two touchdowns. Flowers has been a solid player in his two seasons and a nice story as a converted safety. But between his two DPI penalties in the wild-card round and his long night in Green Bay, he will have a lot to think about this offseason. Seattle will have to ponder a potential upgrade at right cornerback.
Pivotal play: Wilson's first-down pass on what turned out to be the Seahawks' final drive bounced off Malik Turner's hands for an incompletion. A catch there and the Seahawks would have been near midfield with a fresh set of downs. Instead, they punted after a 5-yard gain on second down and a third-down sack that moved them back 6 yards. Wilson said he thought it was the right decision to punt on fourth-and-11 from their own 36, at which point 2:41 remained. Turner's drop and that third-down sack were killers.
Troubling trend, Part II: The Seahawks finished without a takeaway in their final four games. Bobby Wagner nearly had an interception when he broke on a Rodgers' pass in the flat in the fourth quarter, saying postgame that he would have had the pick if the throw been more on-target. The Seahawks finished the regular season with 32 takeaways, fourth-most in the NFL. That was something their defense did well, just not well enough with the season on the line.