December football is upon us, and this one had the feeling of a playoff game. The Seattle Seahawks shut down the high-flying Philadelphia Eagles offense on Sunday afternoon in a big 24-14 road win to improve to 9-4 on the year.
Russell Wilson had another masterful performance, completing 22-of-37 passes for 263 yards and two touchdowns. Wilson also added 10 carries for 48 yards, including a 26-yard touchdown run off a read option. Wilson once again shared the wealth among his receivers, hitting 10 different targets during the win. Doug Baldwin led the way with five catches for 97 yards and a touchdown.
Seattle's defense stepped up once again, holding the Eagles to just 14 points and 139 yards of offense. That's the lowest total offense for a Chip Kelly offense in his career, college included. Coming into today, Philadelphia led the league with 73 plays per game. Against the Seahawks, the Eagles managed just 45 plays compared to Seattle's 85 plays. Philadelphia struggled all day on third down, converting just two of their 11 third down attempts. As a result, the Seahawks were able to keep Philadelphia's offense off the field for much of the day and preserving their defense's energy.
The win marked the third straight victory for the Seahawks and their fifth win in the last six games.
The Seahawks opened the game with a lengthy 12-play drive, marching into field goal range. On 3rd and 5 at the Philadelphia 30, Wilson was sacked, forcing the Seahawks to punt the ball away as the high winds likely changed the play calling strategies for both sides.
After a 3-and-out on Seattle's second drive of the day, Jon Ryan fumbled a snap for the second consecutive game. Unlike in San Francisco, Ryan wasn't able to recover from the mistake as the Eagles took over already inside the red zone at the 14.
The Eagles capitalized as Mark Sanchez hit Jeremy Maclin for the 1-yard touchdown pass. On the play, Maclin went in motion but nobody on the defense seemed to pick him up, leading to the easy swing pass for the score.
The Eagles sent Maclin in motion, and no one from the Seahawks' defense followed him across the field. Created a 1-on-2 mismatch.— Jayson Jenks (@JaysonJenks) December 7, 2014
On Seattle's next drive, the Seahawks dodged a bullet when Russell Wilson hit Doug Baldwin for a 25-yard gain. During the play, Seattle had a number of ineligible men downfield, and Chip Kelly was fired up about it. It was simply a missed call by the officiating crew. Wilson then hit Tony Moeaki for 15 yards as he once again began to spread the ball around, hitting his fifth different receiver of the quarter.
Wilson then proved why he is such a threat on offense, executing the zone read to perfection. Wilson got Trent Cole to bite and took off running for the 26-yard rushing touchdown, reaching the end zone untouched. You would think Chip Kelly would know how to stop the zone read, that's kinda his thing. The other key part of the play as you'll see in the GIF below was when Nate Allen was forced to stay in coverage against Paul Richardson until Wilson crossed the line. By that point, there was nothing he could do to catch up with Wilson.
Wilson's touchdown run was also a bit of a milestone for the dual threat quarterback.
Russell Wilson is the sixth modern QB to rush for at least 700 yards in a season.— Miracle On ARth St. (@KennethArthuRS) December 7, 2014
Seattle's next drive ended in frustration as Wilson's indecisiveness in the pocket cost the Seahawks three more points. On 3rd and 11 at the Philadelphia 32, Wilson was forced out of the pocket and threw the ball away as he was hit. The ball never reached the line of scrimmage, and the Seahawks were pushed back out of field goal range.
You can't tell me Eagles are covering that well with that long of protection. Someone is open- get them the ball.— Corbin Smith (@CorbinSmithNFL) December 7, 2014
The Seahawks would get the ball back with enough time for Wilson to get Seattle within field goal range as Steven Hauschka hit a 44-yard attempt to give the Seahawks a 10-7 lead going into the second half.
During the first half, Seattle's defense continued their dominance that we've seen in recent weeks, holding the Eagles to just 67 yards of offense in the first half. Mark Sanchez completed 4-of-9 passes for just 28 yards and the 1-yard touchdown pass. This was also due to the fact that the Seahawks controlled the ball for almost 75 percent of the first half, keeping Philadelphia's defense on the field for an extended period of time.
The Seahawks would kick off the second half with a big turnover as KJ Wright forced a fumble on the first play of the half, giving Seattle the ball on the Philadelphia 19. On the third play of Seattle's drive, Russell Wilson threw across his body to hit a wide open Marshawn Lynch, who had been left uncovered after the play action fake, giving the Seahawks a 17-7 lead.
Turbin said that "it's not actually a route, but Russ always tells us to keep looking for the ball after the play-action fake"— Danny Kelly (@FieldGulls) December 7, 2014
Philadelphia's offense finally came to life on their next drive, starting with a big kickoff return by Josh Huff for 46 yards, allowing the Eagles to start their drive from midfield. On the fifth play of the drive, Mark Sanchez hit Zach Ertz, who was able to beat KJ Wright for the 35-yard touchdown pass. Just moments earlier, it looked as if the Seahawks had started to get a firm stranglehold on the game. Just like that, we had a 17-14 game.
Philly stretched Seattle's defense nicely on the Ertz TD. Iso'd K.J. Wright, who's been a liability vs. tight ends this year.— SI NFL (@si_nfl) December 7, 2014
Seattle answered right back with a 91-yard drive that took just six plays. On the second play of the drive, Bradley Fletcher was hit with a pass interference against Doug Baldwin, moving the ball up 44 yards from the Seattle 21 all the way down to the Philadelphia 35. Four plays later, Wilson hit Baldwin for the 23-yard touchdown pass to extend Seattle's lead back out to 10 points.
Russell did nearly everything you could ask a QB to do on that drive. Ran, threw deep accurately, converted on 3rd down, perfect TD throw.— Mike Salk, 710 ESPN (@TheMikeSalk) December 7, 2014
After giving up the 35-yard touchdown to Zach Ertz, Seattle's defense stepped up again, forcing the Eagles to punt on three consecutive drives. On Seattle's first drive of the final quarter though, Marshawn Lynch fumbled the ball, giving the Eagles possession on their own 30, trailing by 10 with 9:07 to go in the game. Unfortunately for Seattle, the lead could have been much larger.
That's three times the Seahawks have cost themselves a shot at a field goal.— John Boyle (@johnpboyle) December 8, 2014
Lynch's fumble would soon be forgotten when on the first play of Philadelphia's ensuing drive, Mark Sanchez tried to air out a deep pass to Riley Cooper. Tharold Simon came in for the interception, giving the Seahawks the ball right back on their own 41. The interception, aided by the strong wind gusts, was the first on Simon's career.
Perfect play by Simon. He was trailing Cooper the whole time then cut at just the right time.— Franklin Bains (@FTBains) December 8, 2014
The Seahawks dodged a bullet on their next drive as Malcom Jenkins came in to break up a pass attempt on 3rd down. Had Jenkins gotten possession of the ball, it would've been a 24-21 game as there was nothing but daylight in front of him. Seattle wound punt the ball away, which suddenly didn't seem like such a bad alternative to what could've happened on the previous play.
Needing any kind of points on the board, the Eagles took over on their own 14 trailing by two possessions. Mark Sanchez was then sacked on two consecutive plays by Jordan Hill and Marcus Burley, who came in for the injured Tharold Simon, to stall the drive almost as quickly as it had started, icing the game as the fans headed for the exits.
A look ahead
The Seahawks now return home to take on a familiar foe, the San Francisco 49ers. This will be a matchup of two teams headed in very different directions. Seattle has won five of their last six games while the 49ers have dropped two straight to the Seahawks and the...Raiders? Oh boy, things are worse than we thought down there.
The Cardinals held on for a 17-14 win over the Chiefs, so the Seahawks remain a game behind Arizona in the division race. However, with a matchup coming up in two weeks against the Cardinals, the Seahawks control their own destiny. If they defeat the Niners, Cardinals and Rams to wrap up the regular season, Seattle will win the NFC West with a 12-4 record