Looking down the 2017 Seattle Seahawks list of games, you’ll find an interesting occurrence towards the end of their schedule. Because in their worst loss in years, a 42-7 reminder that things ain’t what they used to be against the LA Rams, the Seahawks had just 71 net passing yards and 78 net rushing yards.
In total, that’s 149 yards, Seattle’s lowest output since a 14-9 win over the Rams in Week 8 of 2013, in which they had 135 total yards. It took them more than four years to get below 150 again.
It took the Seahawks only one week to do it again. And much like in 2013, they somehow managed to still win.
Facing playoff possibilities elimination against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 16, Seattle managed to put up just 136 yards, and that included a lower passing total (60) and rushing total (76) than in their 35-point loss a week earlier. Russell Wilson went 14-of-21 for 93 yards, the lowest passing yardage total of his career. The previous low was 108, in a 17-10 loss to the Arizona Cardinals in December of 2013.
Wilson also didn’t make up for it on the ground (as you see, nobody on the Seahawks really did), rushing nine times for 29 yards. But Wilson did throw two touchdowns (another reminder: Seattle’s quarterback led the NFL in touchdown passes) and that gave him a passer rating of 107.8. Then the defense stepped in and provided the real key to victory, picking off Dak Prescott twice and holding a newly-released-back-onto-the-field Ezekiel Elliott to 97 yards on 24 carries.
They also forced and recovered a fumble off of Dez Bryant, one of the final nails in his star-laden coffin.
This was a Seahawks defense that preferably wanted to start Cliff Avril, but instead pushed Frank Clark into a starting role and weakened the depth. A Seahawks defense that had to start Byron Maxwell instead of Richard Sherman, and Bradley McDougald instead of Kam Chancellor. This was not the personnel that Pete Carroll and John Schneider wanted or expected when they started the season, but that’s just part of the game.
What’s not usually part of the game is going on the road, in a must-win scenario, against a team that was also facing playoff contention elimination, with all their key starters on offense healthy except for Tyron Smith (not insignificant), missing that many people who were meant to be integral to the defense’s success, and winning when your own offense only has 136 total yards.
And it was never really that close.
The Seahawks had a terrible day on offense and still won on the road. They parted ways with Michael Bennett and Sheldon Richardson, but most of the rest are set to return. Added into the mix are Barkevious Mingo, Rasheem Green, Shaquem Griffin, Mo Alexander, Tre Flowers, Tom Johnson, Shemar Stephen. Dion Jordan has a full year to prepare with the team. Shaquill Griffin and Nazair Jones (also unavailable against Dallas) enter year two. This list could stretch on even further but I’m ending it somewhere.
We don’t know what injuries lie ahead, so you never know what to expect, but as things stand I would still expect for Carroll to have them ready to compete as an elite unit again. Despite getting eliminated from the playoffs by losing three of their last four games, there was still the version of the Seattle Seahawks that could go to Dallas and beat a nearly-full strength Cowboys team even when they played historically-bad on offense. They could still force three turnovers and hold them to 12 points without Sherman, Chancellor, and Avril. So even if they are going to next season without those guys, and Bennett, and Richardson, I could still see the Seahawks getting better on defense.
Which they may really need because that game was just as much 2011 offense as it was 2013 defense.