At 2-5, can Russell Wilson even turn around the Seattle Seahawks' season?

SEATTLE -- The Seattle Seahawks can't get quarterback Russell Wilson back soon enough. But whenever they do, it might already be too late.

That's the difficult and unfamiliar reality they're facing after Monday night's 13-10 loss to the New Orleans Saints at Lumen Field, where their hopes of making the playoffs for the ninth time in the past 10 seasons took another massive blow.

The Seahawks have lost three straight games to fall to 2-5, marking the first time since 2011 that they've been three games under .500. In all three losses, they've had the ball with a chance to tie or take the lead in the final three minutes of regulation or overtime, something Wilson has done better than any quarterback over his career.

Geno Smith, as he showed while taking consecutive sacks to kill Seattle's final drive, is not Russell Wilson.

"Russell's a factor," coach Pete Carroll said. "He's a fantastic positive factor and always has been. That's his time. That's when he shines. We miss him. In the meantime, we're going to keep fighting and clawing and doing everything we can."

The Seahawks are five games back in the NFC West of the unbeaten Arizona Cardinals and four back of the Los Angeles Rams, who already have a head-to-head win over Seattle.

Yes, they have a favorable matchup next week against the one-win Jacksonville Jaguars. Their defense is getting better. And they could get Wilson back from finger surgery when they return from their Week 9 bye. But then they play the Packers at Lambeau Field, where Green Bay is 17-2 over the past two and a half seasons.

So it's fair to wonder if Wilson's return can save Seattle's sinking season.

Making his second straight start for Wilson, Smith did next to nothing after his early 84-yard touchdown pass to DK Metcalf. He completed 12 of 22 passes, which is somewhat understandable given the rainy, windy weather conditions. But that doesn't explain some the bad sacks he took, including the two on back-to-back plays near the end of the game.

"I put that solely on myself, honestly," Smith said of Seattle's coming up short again. "I've got big enough shoulders, I'll take it all. You can put the blame right at my feet. I'm not worried."

Smith struck an optimistic note when he said the sun will come up tomorrow. But these days in Seattle, with the gloomy weather and the gloomy outlook on the Seahawks' season, there's no guarantee it will.

Pivotal play: Take your pick between two brutal penalties the Seahawks committed on the Saints' game-winning drive. The first was on nickelback Marquise Blair, who was flagged for a helmet-to-helmet on Saints quarterback Jameis Winston as he was being sacked on third down. Then defensive tackle Al Woods jumped offside on what would have been a 42-yard field goal try -- hardly an easy kick on a wet and windy night. That gave the Saints 5 yards and a fresh set of downs. They kicked the game winner from 33 yards out. And speaking of awful penalties: Tight end Gerald Everett had one in the first half when he was flagged for taunting after flipping the ball to a defender after a first-down catch. That pushed Seattle back 15 yards and helped ruin a scoring opportunity. Long, long gone are the days when the Seahawks were talented enough to overcome their penalty problem.

Pivotal play, part II: Jason Myers missed a 53-yard field goal try midway through the fourth quarter, with the score tied at 10-10. Seattle faced fourth-and-22 after Smith was sacked for an 11-yard loss on third down, so going for it was out of the question. But would punting have been the better option? Seattle's defense was playing well by that point, and Myers was kicking into the open end of the stadium. New Orleans drove for the winner on the ensuing possession. Myers was 1-of-3 on the night.

Biggest hole in the game plan: Having no answer for running back Alvin Kamara early. He's the Saints' best offensive player by a wide margin, and the Seahawks had to figure New Orleans would feed him in this game given the wet and windy conditions that made deep throws tough to execute. Yet they let Kamara gain 138 of the Saints' 217 yards in the first half and 179 yards in all. He beat Ryan Neal out of the backfield for a long gain near the end of the first half. That will happen. But how was there no Seattle defender within 10 yards of Kamara on his touchdown catch later in that drive?

Metcalf vs. Lattimore: Metcalf said earlier this season that defenders were trying to get him off his game by getting under his skin, and that he was taking the bait. He might have flipped the script against Marshon Lattimore, the Saints' All-Pro corner whom he beat on his touchdown. Before one first-quarter drive, Metcalf approached Lattimore and the two exchanged words. Lattimore was flagged for unnecessary roughness when the two went at it at the end of the next play. Lattimore was called for another personal foul later in the game when he took a swipe at Metcalf's face mask as the chippiness continued between the two. Metcalf either learned his lesson from earlier in the year or he wasn't the one who got caught Monday night.