While the final box score for the Seattle Seahawks 17-9 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles in the Wild Card round of the playoffs will show that the Hawks threw 30 passes compared to 26 rushes, the playcalling was nowhere near that balanced. With 30 passes to 26 rushing attempts, that’s a 46%-54% run-pass breakdown, but it’s heavily misleading due to a handful of factors.
Specifically, while the game all but ended on this Wilson completion to DK Metcalf,
it didn’t officially finish until Russell Wilson had ended the game with three rushing attempts.
So, backing those three “rushing attempts” out of the stats, leaves the team with 30 passes and 23 rushes on the day, a less balanced run-pass split of 43%-57%.
But even that is misleading.
Seattle’s leading rusher on the day was none other than Russell Wilson himself, whose nine carries for 45 yards includes those three kneel downs. Removing those from his numbers, his first six carries went for 48 yards, but do those carries get credit for being running plays?
Of his six rushing plays, here is the official play-by-play description from the NFL.
- (11:58) R.Wilson scrambles up the middle to PHI 30 for 22 yards (N.Bradham).
- (1:52) (Shotgun) R.Wilson scrambles up the middle to PHI 48 for 2 yards (N.Bradham). PENALTY on PHI-C.LeBlanc, Defensive Holding, 5 yards, enforced at PHI 48.
- (2:04) (Shotgun) R.Wilson scrambles right end to SEA 38 for 18 yards (M.Jenkins).
- (:40) (Shotgun) R.Wilson up the middle to SEA 38 for 5 yards (N.Bradham).
- (14:26) R.Wilson scrambles up the middle to PHI 42 for 1 yard (N.Gerry).
- (6:21) (Shotgun) R.Wilson FUMBLES (Aborted) at SEA 20, and recovers at SEA 20. R.Wilson to SEA 22 for 2 yards (N.Gerry).
That’s all six of Wilson’s rushing attempts, and, obviously, four of them are scrambles. So, adjusting the 23-30 run pass split to account for those scrambles leaves Seattle with having called 19 rushing plays to 34 passing plays in the playoff win, prior to Wilson’s three kneel downs. That is a 36%-64% split for the game, but it doesn’t account for the lone sack Wilson took on the day. Adding that sack to the passing plays total makes it 35 pass plays to 19 rush plays, or a run-pass split of 35.2%-64.8%.
And yet, even with a run-pass playcalling split that favored throwing the ball at nearly a two to one ratio, the team was even more pass heavy earlier on. On the Seahawks final three possessions, the Hawks had fourteen offensive plays, with those seven being split 50/50 between runs and passes. Prior to that , the Hawks had called pass plays on nearly seventy percent of their offensive plays.
For the run lovers:— John P. Gilbert (@JohnPGilbertNFL) January 5, 2020
Midway through the third quarter, the Seahawks have a double digit lead on the road in the playoffs.
69.2% of playcalls to this point have been passes.
So, while the standard football guy trope is that winning on the road in the postseason requires a strong run game and defense, for Seattle against the Eagles in the Wild Card game, that was at least half wrong.