Man, I love primetime Seahawks games. I mean, every fan relishes the chance to watch their team as the only show going, but the Seahawks have a knack for making it special. It’s not just that they continually play exciting night games, it’s that they find a way to win the vast majority of them. In the Russell Wilson era, the Seahawks are now an all-time NFL-best 30-8-1 beneath the night lights, and today was a perfect example of being better than their opponent in every aspect of the game.
Now, that’s not to say that the Seahawks were perfect— far from it. But when you’re the better team, that’s okay, and the hallmark of good teams is the ability to win when you don’t have your A-game.
The Eagles received the opening kick and proceeded to do absolutely nothin with it, going three and out on their first possession. In fact, they’d go three-and-out on their first five drives, leaving the Seahawks with plenty of room to take their chances. After receiving the first of their nearly half-dozen punts to start the game, the Seahawks put together a really nice drive. They’d run 14 plays on that opening possession, covering 58 yards on 7 passes and 7 runs. Russell Wilson would complete five of those passes, with three of them going to one DK Metcalf for 29 yards. Nevertheless, they’d come up empty when the decision to go for out on 4th & goal (correct) was undone by a sloppy shovel-sweep to David Moore (incorrect). Still, by pinning Philadelphia deep and forcing them to punt again, Seattle won a huge field position advantage.
Their second drive yielded another 4th & short in plus territory and again, Seattle made the right decision to go for it. Unfortunately, they called another limited-option play— this time having all five receivers run exactly two well-covered yards— and Wilson was forced to turtle up for a sack. 0-0, but everything felt slanted in Seattle’s favor nevertheless.
Another Eagles punt, a Seahawks punt, another Eagles punt, and we eventually got some points. On this occasion, the Seahawks finally took advantage of their suffocating defensive performance. Starting on their own 32, Wilson calmly hit Tyler Lockett in the right flat for 18 shimmying yards then, after a Carlos Hyde run lost three and an incompletion created 3rd & long, Wilson finally dropped back with his shoulders tilted towards heaven.
Seattle’s all-world QB threw the ball into Philadelphia’s stormy skies, piercing the clouds and winking at God before descending back into humanity’s sinfulness where it was redeemed by a sprinting Metcalf. DK cradled the ball to his massive, throbbing bosom as a beaten Darius Slay pulled him to the turf at the 1. The catch gave Metcalf 6 receptions for 101 yards less than 20 minutes into the game and it set up a don’t-do-it goal line fade to David Moore that actually worked out. Wilson’s second consecutive perfectly thrown pass found Moore’s soft hands for the game’s opening score, and it would mark the last time the Eagles wouldn’t trail.
On Seattle’s next drive, they moved it all the way down to the Philly 6 on a slick combination of short Wilson passes and effective Chris Carson runs. After a dubious intentional grounding call against Wilson, Seattle faced a daunting 2nd & goal from the 16. No matter, as Carson took the handoff and ran like someone cut his brake line. Busting through the line of scrimmage, Carson careened downhill, bouncing off green guardrails until he finally skidded to a stop in the endzone. It was a gorgeous, brutal display of old school football, as Carson lined up every single member of the Eagles defensive and out-manned each and every one of them en route to glory. 14-0.
Now, there are a few pre-requisites to every Seahawks game, and one of them is allowing at least one horrifically long, eyelid-plucking touchdown drive. I suppose it’s good that they, at the minimum, waited until they were up a couple tuddies for this week’s iteration, because the Eagles put together a 15-play, 75-yard drive that included a 5-5 stretch on 3rd downs. It finally culminated in a 3-yard Dallas Goedert TD that was honestly kind of a relief, since it put an end to the torture. Since it’s the Eagles, they missed the extra point, and the teams went to the break with the visitors holding a 14-6 advantage.
The second half was largely academic. Both teams played hard, but the Seahawks played better. Seattle came up empty on their first drive of the third quarter and the Eagles counter-punched with a field goal to give the false impression that this was a competitive game. The Seahawks answered with a field goal of their own (17-9!), then forced Philadelphia out on downs when KJ Wright snuffed out a 4th down pass with one girthy tentacle at the line of scrimmage. A ridiculous contested 31-yard grab by Metcalf set up a long Hyde TD run that was called back on a hold. That was followed by a contested Metcalf drop in the endzone, and Seattle settled for three more to make it 20-9.
The Eagles made another spirited run at relevancy on their next drive but it was all undone when Carson Wentz finally hit someone between the numbers in the endzone. Sadly for Eagles fans, the recipient of his most accurate pass of the night was Seattle safety Quandre Diggs, who casually caught the easiest interception of his career to essentially snuff out the Eagles threat. From then on out, the Seattle defense would suffocate Philly, a last-minute Hail Mary miracle not withstanding, and Russell Wilson got to kneel out his team’s eighth* win of the season.*
*y’all ever try to just type out the word “eighth”? Took me three tries. And two more in this here footnote. Fuck that word. It’s 8th from here on out.
~Russell Wilson looked pretty tight tonight, but he made enough impressive throws to overcome it. For the sixth straight game, it fell short MVP-caliber, but it was plenty good enough to win. He completed 22 of 31 passes (71%) for 230 yards (7.4 Y/A) and 1 touchdown vs 0 interceptions for a very good rating of 102.9. It’s unlikely he overtakes Patrick Mahomes and Aaron Rodgers from a statistical perspective, but he’s been good enough to keep the Seahawks on the very short list of contenders and that’s good enough for me. And look, if you ever catch me complaining about a Seahawks QB having the type of season that Wilson is having, go ahead and put a bullet in me.
~Tonight was the latest chapter in the increasingly voluminous Shutdown Corners vs DK Metcalf story. This week, his shadow’s name was Darius Slay Jr, and all Metcalf did was eat him alive in front of a national television audience. It took DK Metcalf all of 19 minutes to get 100 yards, and he finished with a bonkers 10 catches for 177 yards on 13 targets. And frankly it could have been a hell of a lot more, as he preemptively slowed up on one perfectly-thrown deep ball and dropped a touchdown in the 4th. And that’s not even mentioning the 40 penalty yards he garnered by setting up a corner store in the Eagles secondary’s domes.
By the time the dust settled on the rubble in his wake, DeKaylin Zecharius Metcalf was the NFL’s leading receiver with 1,039 yards. He is 22 years old.
~It’s rare that both Metcalf and Tyler Lockett go off in the same game and that was the case again tonight. Lockett received all of 4 targets, turning his sparse opportunities into sparse production: 3 catches for 23 scoreless yards. Still, he’s 10th in the NFL in catches on the year with 70 grabs and 16th in yards at 761. Not the worst thing in the world when your #2 receiver is better than half the league’s #1s.
~David Moore had the most hilarious stat line you’ll ever see from a wide receiver: 3 catches on 3 targets for -6 yards. And a touchdown.
~Chris Carson matters. He was back from a nagging injury but on an obvious pitch count, with Carlos Hyde picking up the majority of the early work. Even so, Carson’s impact on the offense was obvious. And while there’s a strong argument to be made that the bulk of running back duties are generally replaceable, there’s no denying the juice that Carson brings.
Overall, the run game didn’t do much today. Take away Wilson’s scrambles and you’ve got just 64 yards on 24 carries, but Carson had 41 of them on just 8 totes, plus the score. Once he’s back to handling a full load, this run game is going to look much better. Nice to see him back in action and running with the aggression that has made us all love him. Carlos Hyde was whatever; 22 yards on 15 carries.
~The defense was awesome tonight. Yeah, there was the stretch that bookended halftime where the Eagles converted 46 consecutive 3rd downs but taken as a whole, this was one of their best performances of the year. You can’t ignore outlier plays but aside from the garbage time Hail Mary, the Seahawks only allowed 9 points and 217 yards on 64 plays, which is fucking insane. Even if you count it, 17 points and 250 yards on 65 plays is elite, no matter how much the opposing fans hate their quarterback.
All night they rushed the passer with remarkable success, they tackled with assurance, and their coverage was largely excellent. Check, check, check.
~The defensive success started with the pass rush, as the Seahawks recorded a remarkable 6 sacks. They now have more sacks over the last five weeks than any team in the NFL, which is amazing but all the more so given how anemic their pass rush was over the first six games.
~It’s no coincidence that Seattle’s suddenly ferocious pressure coincided with Jamal Adams and Carlos Dunlap finally being on the field at the same time. And while Dunlap seems downright unblockable for stretches, there are few things more fun to watch than Adams when he smells blood in the water. He showcased his alien closing speed all night but a couple of instances really stand out: one was on his huge 3rd down sack and the other came when he blitzed off the left side, nearly got another sack, then wheeled around and somehow tackled the receiver on the sideline 7 yards downfield to prevent a first down. Just obscene killer instinct.
~Adams finished with a team-leading 9 tackles including the sack, but the defensive line was the real story. Dunlap, Poona Ford, Rasheem Green, Jarran Reed, Benson Mayowa, and even KJ Wright got in on the sack party. It was like a Facebook invite got sent out for the Eagles’ backfield and every single Seahawk answered “Going”.
~Oh my god, I just realized we haven’t even seen Darrell Taylor yet.
~Speaking of KJ Wright, the linebackers were phenomenal tonight. Wright was everywhere, rushing the passer, breaking up passes, shutting down the open field, and tackling like an angry octopus. I’ll be the first to admit I was worried that he was washed this season, but KJ Wright is just the latest in a long line of people that have exposed me as an idiot.
~Bobby Wagner continues to be the lifeblood of this defense and you could tell from every one of his seething postgame interviews this season that the team’s shameful first two months was eating him alive. His stat line (5 tackles, 1 QB hit) is uninspiring but his play certainly wasn’t. Perhaps no play all game showcased his leadership more than him breaking up a pass 50 yards downfield, as he expertly trailed Dallas Goedert on a deep crosser. He is still amazing and still should not be taken for granted.
~You can just tell that Jordyn Brooks is getting more and more comfortable out there. His teammates and coaches speak so glowingly about him but his on-field production has come in fits and starts. And while that’s to be expected from a rookie, his snap count continues to climb with each successive week and it’s remarkable to see his anticipation improve as he gets more in tune with the flow of NFL football. 5 tackles and a breakup from Seattle’s first round pick.
~How good was Shaquill Griffin tonight? He got flagged on a 50/50 PI call but other than that, he was downright excellent, no? After a tough start to the year, this was the first time we saw the 2019 version of Griffin and if we get this the rest of the year, this team can be special.
~Another sensational week from the specialists. Jason Myers made all five of his kicks and Michael Dickson averaged 52 yards per punt as he continues his ascent to the peak of his profession.
~All in all, I liked the play-calling tonight. They had a rough first quarter, going scoreless despite a couple nice drives to open the game, but they kept the pressure on all night. The Seahawks won so there won’t be a ton of chatter about going for it on 4th down twice early, but I’m glad they did— even though the results were bad. See, there are two parts to optimal 4th down performance and only one part is the decision to go for it. The other is what you draw up, and both of them (the half-hearted jet sweep that required DK to block a DE lined up two yards inside of him and the five 2-yard routes on the second one) sucked. The fact that they burned a timeout before each one only exacerbated the early-game anxiety but to be honest, I was never that worried.
Other than that, however, I thought it was a lovely mix of short and deep throws in a pass-forward offense. Seattle called 38 passes to 24 runs, and that includes the final two drives where they ran it almost exclusively. There’s been a lot of collective worry that Pete Carroll will revert to his run-first ways but we’ve yet to see that manifested. This has remained a passing offense even with the midseason struggles and I doff my cap to that.
Russell Wilson is one of the three best quarterbacks in the world and the team is smart to keep the ball in his hands. If I were to pick nits, I’d harp on Seattle’s struggles with getting out of the huddle and to the line early in the play clock, but it didn’t cost them in this one. Still, love to see them clean that up, as early sets give Russ the opportunity to identify the defense and make adjustments if necessary. Not complaining, just observing.
8-3, man. I know we all want our team to be perfect all the time but 8-3 is legit no matter how you chop it up. The Seahawks took care of business tonight, beating an inferior opponent, though not as thoroughly as some may have liked. As my buddy, and terrific PNW sports fan Twitter follow Steve Sandmeyer told me during the game, “the Seahawks should’ve been charged with murder, but pleaded down to inadvertent manslaughter.”
Even so, wins are wins the NFL— there are no voters to impress and the Seahawks were never in any real danger. They’re now effectively tied for 2nd in the NFC (yes, I know they technically currently lose a tie-break to the Packers) and if you’re complaining about that, it’s a you thing. The Seattle Seahawks are beautifully positioned, in first place in the NFL’s toughest division, and controlling their destiny in that regard as they enter the soft underbelly of their schedule.
I’ve been saying it since the preseason— this is gonna be a special year and so far that’s going according to plan. Seattle has weathered the adversity we all saw coming and appear to have emerged from it the best version of themselves. I am as optimistic as it gets when it comes to the Seahawks’ prospects the rest of the way and 13-3 is very much in play. Onward, upward... go ‘Hawks.
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