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Cigar Thoughts, Game 14: Seahawks blow out Washington, cling to narrow victory

The Seattle Seahawks built a 17-point 4th quarter lead then hung on for dear life to beat the Washington Football Team 20-15, improving to 10-4 in the process.

Seattle Seahawks v Washington Football Team Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

What a weird season. No matter how deeply anchored in our psyche the week-to-week variability of the NFL is, it’s still staggering in real time. I think it boils down to our default assumption that NFL teams are spread out on a 1-10 scale, with the Jets being a 1 and the Chiefs being a 10, but in reality they’re all between like a 93 and 98. How easily we forgot that even the worst starters on the worst teams are among the greatest athletes ever to step on a gridiron. It’s how a team can look invincible one week and struggle against an inferior opponent the next.

As Seahawks fans we should be used to this every week, yet we are consistently shocked by our favorite team’s performance, regardless of outcome. Today, Seattle drew yet another NFC East team with a backup quarterback— a proposition that should portend an easy victory but if there’s one thing we’ve learned about the Seahawks over the last decade, it’s that they don’t give a fuck about “should”.

Washington received the opening kick in this one and promptly went three and out. Seattle responded with their latest impressive opening drive, a true strength of this team, whatever your criticisms may be. It started with a slick DJ Reed punt return to Seattle’s 45 and was followed by a Chris Carson charge over left guard for 10. Then it was a short pass to Tyler Lockett for 6 and a couple plays later, a rare read-option keeper by Russell Wilson for 11. Then Carson for 5, Carson on a catch for 3 more, and Carson again for 5 and a first down deep in Football team territory. Sadly, that one was erased by a holding penalty against Mike Iupati, and Seattle settled for a field goal. 3-0.

The next Washington drive was snuffed out by a heat-seeking Jamal Adams sack, and the Seahawks would get one first down from Carson before punting it back. Washington punted again, and this one began to reek of the Giants game. The Seahawks created a little breathing room with a 10-play field goal drive, leaning heavily on Lockett and Carson again, to push the lead out incrementally to 6-0. The standout play of that drive didn’t even count, as Wilson successfully pulled off a free-play hard-count for the first time in like 14 years and threw a jump ball to DK Metcalf in the endzone.

On the play, DK elevated for the ball and landed on Washington’s poop-goulash of a field. As his descent ended, the turf gave way beneath him, appearing to hyper-extend his knee. I mean hell, it probably did, but since DK is made of adamantium he went right back out there on the ensuing drive and actually caught a pass on the very next play. The fact that the Washington Football Team is worth multiple billions of dollars and still doesn’t have an NFL-quality playing surface is a microcosm of what a trash fucking organization that clown show is. Nevertheless.

Washington finally put together a competent possession on their next drive, but that was snuffed out when Quandre Diggs leapt like 11’ in the air to break up a pass intended for Terry McLaurin. As the tipped ball fluttered through the air, Shaquill Griffin changed direction and dove backwards to pick it off on one of the best plays off his career to date. It was great to see a real live interception from Griffin, as he’s been the cornerback version of Jadaveon Clowney, in that he does everything well except actually close the deal. For all of his prowess in coverage and tackling, Griffin has struggled with converting opportunities into turnovers, so it was great to see him pull that one in.

The turnover was followed by a fantastic following drive that ended with an absolute dime to Jacob Hollister. Before we get to that, and we will, we have to highlight one specific play from Russ. Today was not Wilson’s day, but he did have a couple of really meaningful, game-altering plays on this drive and one of them was a 38-yard scramble where he buried a defender knee-deep in the dirt with a juke five yards away. His run was, hilariously, the longest of the Seahawks season, but it was an accolade that wouldn’t last long. A couple snaps later, Wilson dropped back and threw an absolute DIME to a bracket-covered Jacob Hollister for a touchdown. Why you’d ever double-cover Hollister is beyond me, but it didn’t scare Wilson and he fit his pass into a keyhole for the 13-0 lead.

The last drive of the second quarter from the artists formally known as the ******** finally got them on the board, as they strung together 11 maddeningly short plays to net a field goal, but the Seahawks took a comfortable 13-3 lead into halftime. It was a dominant first half from the good guys— a continuation of the exemplary defensive performance that has emerged over the last month and a half. At this point, things felt pretty comfortable, and that comfort would only grow after the break— albeit briefly.

The first drive of the second half was all about the Seattle running backs. After Carson bulldozed a path on the first three plays, Carlos Hyde came in and drove 52 yards on the newly paved road for a TD. It was a zone cut-back whose beauty lay in it’s well-executed simplicity. Every member of the Seahawks’ suddenly good offensive line erased their man, leaving Hyde with just one linebacker to beat. He hopped out of a diving tackle attempt and ran with the ferocity of a mom doing her last-minute Christmas shopping at Target until he crossed the goal line to give the Seahawks a seemingly insurmountable 20-3 lead. Seemingly.

On the next Washington drive, Reed expertly jumped an over-route and picked off Dwayne Haskins. The game was ostensibly in the bag, and Seattle should have coasted to their second consecutive easy victory. But again, Seatttle doesn’t give two shits about your “should”. Because the rest of the game sucked, to be honest with you.

In all honesty, it’s probably asking too much for the Seahawks to blow out two teams in a row, and regardless of whether that’s the case or not, Washington made sure that wouldn’t be an issue today. After three short completions to Metcalf netted two first downs, it looked like the’ Hawks were well on their way to icing this one. In an effort to keep the pressure on, Wilson rolled right on the next and had Hyde wide open in the flat for another chain-mover. Unfortunately for all of us, he threw that pass in the one spot he couldn’t: right off a defender’s outstretched hand. The batted ball was intercepted, and the Football Team made them pay with a laborious TD drive to cut the lead to 11.

After the missed extra point kept the lead at 20-9, things still felt pretty comfortable for us stalwart ‘‘Hawks fans. But then the Seahawks offense stalked out, punted, and Washington was suddenly imbued with a misplaced sense of confidence.

It’s easy to look at WFT’s 6-7 record and assume they’re just a bad team but doing so overlooks the fact that they came into this one on a 4-game win streak. That verve and resiliency was apparent in Haskins’ renewed confidence, as he carved up the Seattle defense with a series of short completions to Logan Thomas and former-Seahawk JD McKissic. The drive, an 11-play torture-fest, culminated in a walk-in swing-pass to McKissic for a score to make it 20-15 after a failed two-point attempt.*

*shout-out Bobby Wagner**

**always

I’d love to sit here and tell you that Washington’s latest score didn’t pucker my butthole tighter than a Silicon Valley NDA but doing so would be lying. A loss here would tragically alter a once-promising trajectory for this team, and I all of a sudden had to make peace with the fact that the Seahawks might legitimately give up a 17-point 4th quarter lead in an absolutely must-win game. By the time Seattle went three-and-out on their next drive, you could have fed me an entire pot of chili spiked with with laxative and my bunghole still wouldn’t have given up the fight.

Shooting straight with y’all, I’m so sick of sweating out these games. I’m trying to live well for 150 years— my entire lifestyle is built around it— but if I really want to accomplish that goal, I’d simply stop caring about the Seahawks. That, sadly, is a non-negotiable, and instead I sacrificed an additional 4 years off my lifespan by clenching out the final details of this one.

Down 20-15, the Football Team mounted an impressive final drive. They hit McKissic, McLaurin, and Thomas for a spate of first downs that pulled all of our intestines up into our throats. 14 plays of CNS-twisting efficiency had the Seahawks’ previously-stalwart defense on their heels. They moved the ball down to Seattle’s 23, with four plays to try and win it. Now, I am loathe to blame any outcome— good or bad— on officiating, but it would be irresponsible if I didn’t point out how outrageous a personal foul call there was against KJ Wright, who expertly tackled a diving McLaurin with a clean shoulder tackle. Sadly, the refs flagged him for a “shot to the head against a defenseless receiver” despite McLaurin diving head-first into Wright’s shoulderpad on a 3rd down stop. Sigh.

That call set up the type of circumstance that forces contenders to truly test their mettle— a loss here all but sinks any title hopes while a stop keeps you among the very short list of contenders in the NFC. It was a situation that holds a team’s destiny over the fire, a cauldron determining gold or coal. So how did the Seahawks respond? Fuckin’ admirably.

An endzone shot to Thomas was snuffed out by a recovering Jordyn Brooks, who overcame a flat-footed start to bat away a would-be touchdown in coverage. That was followed by LJ Collier beating his man to record the biggest sack of his young career, and was followed by Carlos Dunlap folding the right tackle like an empty Amazon box en route to another one. Its was such a beastly sack, just a full-fledged chucking of an NFL tackle, as Dunlap bent him in half and hurdled over his fallen foe to wrap up the QB. That created a 4th & forever, leading to an unsuccessful Hail Mary that would have been waived off anyway due to offensive holding. A couple kneels later, the Seahawks were 10-4, narrowly escaping an unmitigated disaster.

SMOKE RINGS

~This was a very commonplace game for Russell Wilson, reminiscent of early in his rookie year where he did just enough to win but nothing more. He was a pure game manager in this one and his stat line reflected it. He threw another interception, giving him 13 on the season, and one that let Washington right back in a game they had no business being in. He completed a very average 18 of 27 passes for just 121 yards, a TD and a pick.

The Seahawks have won innumerable games they shouldn’t have because of Wilson’s excellence, but they pulled this one off in spite of him. We all want to believe that Wilson is the best QB in the world. but at this point, we need to settle for top-5; which is still awesome. That said, his last two months have been just slightly better than average and he’s been bailed out by the defense’s transformation into a top-tier unit.

When the dust on this season settles, Wilson will have some of the best numbers of his career, but they will be weighted heavily by his first half and dragged out of the realm of the historic by his second. I’m still thrilled that he’s the quarterback of my favorite team, but we have to be honest about who he’s been since the end of October.

~For the first time all season, we didn’t see one exemplary performance from a Seahawks receiver. With only 121 passing yards to go around, that’s not surprising, but it’s a bummer to see none of Seattle’s corps step up with a game-changing play. DK Metcalf caught 5 passes for 43 yards, and Tyler Lockett snagged 4 for 34, but that’s all they could muster. Before we dance on the grave of Seattle’s passing attack, however, it’s worth pointing out that Washington has been the best defense in the league against opposing WRs but you’d still like to see more than 9 catches for 77 yards from your two elite wideouts.

~Fortunately, Seattle ran the shit out of the ball today. With the passing game turning in arguably its worst performance of the year, they were able to grind out 181 yards on the ground with three rushers cresting 50 yards on the day. Carson led the way with 63 on 15 totes, with Hyde getting 55 and a TD on just two carries. Wilson buoyed his nondescript passing line with 52 rushing yards, and honestly it’s a good thing he did. Yards are yards and points are points, and Seattle got just enough of each to put a bow on their 10th win of the year.

~This was probably the best performance of the year from the offensive line. Despite the injuries, and regardless of the less-than-spectacular final stats, this unit balled out. Facing arguably the best front-four in the NFL, they delivered a sack-free performance with nearly 200 yards on the ground. Had the Seahawks lost today, the last people you could blame for it would be the OL.

~Today was the latest in an incredible series of defensive performances from Seattle. Despite giving up the two late TDs, they still held Washington to 15 points and came up huge with the game on the line. Haskins had 295 yards passing but it took him 55 pass attempts to achieve it. Work in the four sacks for -26 yards and you've got just 269 yards passing allowed on 59 drop backs— just 5.5 yards per play, and two picks against one TD. Phenomenal.

Over the last 6 games, the Seahawks have allowed just 16 PPG, which is nothing short of elite. All of a sudden, one of the most vulnerable units in the NFL has become one of the best, and today is Exhibit A of a defense bailing out a subpar offensive performance.

~The sacks will snag the headlines, and rightfully so, but Seattle’s impressive performance was reflective largely of how well their secondary played. DJ Reed broke up an incredible four passes and snagged an interception as he continues a campaign that is maybe the most pleasant development on the entire roster. He earned the right to wear #29 today, and was the single most impactful player on Seattle’s defense.

Beyond Reed, Jamal Adams was everywhere, sniffing out three 3rd downs including his insane 9.5th sack of the season as a safety. He made tackles at every level and continues to justify the trade— even with the outsized draft capital it took to get him. Quandre Diggs brought the boom on a couple of occasions, notching four tackles, two pass break-ups, and forcing an interception.

Shaquill Griffin was the beneficiary of Diggs’ break-up, and continues to earn the contract extension I hope he gets. Ugo Amadi continued his exemplary performance as a nickel back, making a couple of huge tackles and sticking his nose in on a bunch of underneath passes.

~Bobby Wagner recorded a phenomenal 13 tackles today. Just more of the same from one of the best to ever do it at a spotlight defensive position. A true Hall of of Famer.

~Seattle’s pass rush continues to impress after spending the first half of the season being absolute dogshit. The transformation is one of the craziest things I’ve ever seen, as they now have more sacks over the last six games than any other team in the league. Today’s four-pack was divvied up between Jamal Adams, LJ Collier, Carlos Dunlap, and Alton Robinson. I remain stunned by this development.

10-4, man. Remember what I said about the week-to-week character of the NFL? Well, bitch all you want about this game being closer than it needed to be, but keep in mind that the New York Jets just beat the Los Angeles Rams. That, combined with today’s victory, puts the Seahawks in first place by themselves in the NFC West with a huge game against LA for the fate of the division next week.

There are no voters to impress in the NFL— wins are wins— and just like that, Seattle has the second most in the NFC. There is a lot that can happen over the final two weeks of the season, but the Seahawks are in phenomenal position. It is not a perfect team that we cheer for, but it is a good one. 10-4. First place in the division. Let’s fucking go.

Onward and upward, my friends.

Jacson on Twitter | Cigar Thoughts Hub | Cigar Thoughts Facebook

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Was stoked to unwrap the Davidoff Grand Cru No. 3 today. Smooth as hell, although I’d say it smoked rather quickly. I combined it with some Makers 46 for a lovely combo that soothed the nerves during a tense final quarter.

For the second straight year, I am STOKED about our partnership with Seattle Cigar Concierge. They have the plug on some of the most insane stogies on the market and they’re has offering them to Cigar Thoughts readers for 20% off. These are high-end sticks, and among the most enjoyable I’ve ever smoked. To get the plug, just email SeattleCigarConcierge@gmail.com. They are carrying over 70 cigar brands with many rare releases, including Davidoff, Opus X, and Padron. You can also hit him up on Twitter: @SeattleCigars.

Seattle Cigar Concierge is also offering a special promotion from Caldwell One, the proceeds of which are going to support first responders. Bundles of 10 going for the deeply discounted rate of $120 for 10 of these beauties.

The 2020 season of Cigar Thoughts is also proud to be sponsored by Fairhaven Floors and Brandon Nelson Partners in Bellingham, WA.