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Seahawks’ porous defense is the most clutch in the NFL

NFL: Seattle Seahawks at Miami Dolphins Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The Seattle Seahawks’ defense is giving up however many hundreds of yards per minute in the same tired argument that’s been spouted off since Week 1. Yes, opposing teams can move the ball against Seattle. However, they’re winning at nearly every crucial moment (hence, the 5-0 record). Besides, defense is terrible this year.

Twelve teams, technically, have a worse defensive EPA than the Seahawks this year.

But more than that - Seattle is astonishingly good at the big play through five weeks. It all starts, with Pete Carroll leading the charge, with the turnover.

The Seahawks are currently tied for second in the league at plus-six turnover differential. It comes by way of three recovered fumbles and a second-best seven interceptions. Take out the ridiculous Greg Olsen butterball play, and the goal-line pass DK Metcalf claims was his fault, and Seattle would be atop the league at plus-eight. Even back in 2018 when the Hawks were chasing the record for fewest turnovers committed, they ended the season at plus-15, just a hair ahead of the pace this team is on.

The fumbles have been fun, coming on a fake punt rush attempt and a - dare I say it - QB pressure that Benson Mayowa put on Kirk Cousins to knock the ball out. The interceptions should continue because the offense is so good they’re forcing their opponents into high-volume passing. Encouragingly, Shaquill Griffin has two INT already, Quandre Diggs has one, and Quinton Dunbar has one, so the starting secondary is swiping the ball early.

But the real kicker - don’t tell Pete! - isn’t the turnovers. This team has an uncanny ability to bend-but-not-break....once a game. It’s not remotely fair to say this doesn’t break. It does. To great effect. Not even sure they’re breaking as much as holding the door open at times.

But three times this season, the undefeated record has come down to one play.

New England Patriots, 1st and Goal from the one-yard line, three seconds on the clock. Cam Newton stopped by Bobby Wagner, LJ Collier, Jamal Adams and Lano Hill.

Dallas Cowboys, 3rd and 14, with 14 seconds on the clock. Interception Ryan Neal.

Minnesota Vikings, 4th and 1 at the six-yard line, two minutes on the clock. Alexander Mattison stuffed by Cody Barton, Bobby Wagner and Benson Mayowa.

And those are just the definitive game-winners. All kinds of clutch plays have come from the young guys on this defense.

There’s also the Robinson sack just before the game-winning interception against Dallas. Benson Mayowa definitively ended the Vikings game with the forced fumble.

What’s fascinating is so far this doesn’t feel like a fluke. This defense has consistently shown it knows quite well how to get gashed, yet even more, how to make a play.

I still maintain that the only moderately stress-free game this team has played was against Atlanta, when the entire starting secondary was on the field. That hasn’t happened since, and every game has left us sweating. But five-week trends indicate league-wide defensive struggles. Signs in Seattle also point towards a defense as resilient as its quarterback, and a unit that’s more than prepared to take the ball or make a stop when it really counts.