The Seattle Seahawks defense was heavily criticized and lampooned for its ineptitude through the first half of the 2020 NFL season. Well to be more specific, the pass defense was trashed while the run defense usually held up its end of the bargain.
What you can’t deny is that through the bad defensive play and the current improved stretch we’re seeing, Seattle has consistently been able to come through in crunch time. Just think about how differently this season would’ve gone if Cam Newton had scored from the 1-yard line here...
The #Seahawks STOPPED Cam Newton on a final QB power run. Incredible end to a great game. Amazing. pic.twitter.com/WnMBKYoQ2T— Samuel Gold (@SamuelRGold) September 21, 2020
And then a week later, Ryan Neal comes in for Jamal Adams and intercepts Dak Prescott’s prayer that could’ve forced overtime.
In the final seconds of the game, Ryan Neal came up with a huge interception in the end zone.— Seattle Seahawks (@Seahawks) September 28, 2020
: Highlights on @nflnetwork pic.twitter.com/UKEGqig5zV
Two weeks after that, Alexander Mattison gets stuffed on 4th and 1 and the Seahawks are able to go 94 yards and win it on Russell Wilson’s touchdown throw to DK Metcalf. Should the Vikings have just kicked the field goal to go up 8? Well they can think about it all offseason but this proved an absolute dagger to Minnesota’s playoff hopes, while Seattle improved to 5-0.
I am sure that RB Alexander Mattison would love to have this 4th an inches read back. Looks like he should have bounced it to the SS who is blocked by TE Kyle Rudolph. Mattison had a great game after the injury to Cook. 112 yds rushing and 136 yds total yds. A game of inches. pic.twitter.com/zmKS0qHpgS— Odds and Ends with Mike Tice (@miketice86) October 13, 2020
Now admittedly, the Seahawks defense did cough up a 34-24 lead in the first meeting with the Arizona Cardinals. The ease at which Kyler Murray and company got the game-tying field goal was disappointing at best and maddening at worst. So when the rematch occurred at Lumen Field in what was a must-win for Seattle, Carlos Dunlap showed why the Seahawks traded for him.
.@Carlos_Dunlap SACK ON KYLER MURRAY TO END THE GAME!!!#AZvsSEA: https://t.co/2cxHPcAjwx pic.twitter.com/QKGyn24UJz— Seattle Seahawks (@Seahawks) November 20, 2020
Exactly one month later, Dunlap’s services were needed again despite limited snaps due to injury.
Carlos Dunlap bull rushed him and then celebrated his sack with a somersault @Carlos_Dunlap @Seahawks— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) December 20, 2020
#SEAvsWAS on FOX pic.twitter.com/1f8rf6Hzek
And while I don’t consider this a game-saving stop, it was a game-changing goal-line stand that the Rams never recovered from.
Big fourth down stop by the #Seahawks— NFL (@NFL) December 27, 2020
: #LARvsSEA on FOX
: NFL app // Yahoo Sports app: https://t.co/BVP8uIyKIx pic.twitter.com/bAWT4B6XMe
That’s clutch performance for you. And I’ve not even included the fact that the Patriots and Washington both missed two-point conversions that would’ve provided them a safety net to kick a tying field goal if they didn’t get the winning touchdown.
As usual, Seattle has played a ton of close games but unlike 2019, Russell Wilson hasn’t had to lead that many 4th quarter comebacks. This year’s team has often had to preserve leads late and they’ve been more than up for the task. It’s been one of the high points of this Seahawks team and it’s one of the main reasons why they’re going to end this year as NFC West champions for the first time since 2016.