The Seattle Seahawks, as they usually do, made life very hard for themselves against a bad and beaten up Los Angeles Rams team. No matter what version of the Rams they play, the games always seem difficult. But they still won them, they still swept the Rams for the first time since 2013, and thanks to our good friends in Detroit, the Seahawks are in the playoffs! Against all the odds they have pulled off something few conceived at the start of the season.
This will not be a normal Winners and Losers because it’s 9 PM as I type this and I’m very tired. I’ve forgotten most of this game already. There will be a couple of blurbs but I want to monologue about other stuff within the Winners and Losers framework. I will shoutout Dareke Young and Cade Johnson for getting their first NFL catches and being solid contributors in a must-win situation. Big props to Coby Bryant, Darrell Taylor, Boye Mafe, Uchenna Nwosu, and Bruce Irvin for all getting on the stat sheet with sacks. I wish I had the time and energy to write more in-depth about them but like I said, it’s a different W&L theme.
Kenneth Walker III
Your likely Offensive Rookie of the Year racked up his third consecutive 100-yard game, and he was vital in getting Seattle into field goal range in overtime. He has truly magnificent speed for someone of his size and he’s getting better at finishing through contact. It is hard not to be excited about Walker can do in the long-term, because as a rookie he dazzled and became the team’s first 1,000-yard rusher since Chris Carson in 2019.
He had Seattle’s only touchdown of the game and eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark for the fourth consecutive season. His final catch came against his old pal Bobby Wagner in overtime, gaining 17 yards and putting the Seahawks in Rams territory in overtime.
A year ago in Week 18, Quandre Diggs fractured his ankle with free agency looming. The Seahawks re-signed him and while Diggs has clearly had some struggles this season, he has been clutch in back-to-back weeks. I thought Van Jefferson was open and ready for a house call to end Seattle’s season. Diggs hauled ass, picked off Baker Mayfield, showed the ball to Bobby Wagner (with no taunting flag), and gave the Seahawks another chance to win it on offense. Do I wish at the time Diggs had run for more yards instead of make that gesture? Yes. Do I care in hindsight? No.
Diggs has been a symbol of what John Schneider and Pete Carroll can do at their absolute best. Seattle was desperate for a safety after the Tedric Thompson experiment didn’t work out, and they got Diggs from a dysfunctional Lions front office for next to nothing. And he’s been nothing but a ballhawk year after year, and he saved Seattle today.
He was going to be a nailed on Loser if Seattle didn’t win, but he redeemed himself and will end the regular season with only three missed field goals and one missed extra point. Myers has been superb and it’ll be interesting to see what the Seahawks do with his contract as he approaches free agency.
Geno didn’t play well. He threw two terrible interceptions and probably could’ve had three or four. He was inaccurate, struggling with decision making, and it’s a genuine worry about his long-term future with the team. But in clutch time he also ripped off a big run (and drew a personal foul!) that should’ve resulted in a game-winning field goal in regulation. When Quandre Diggs got the ball back, Smith delivered a clutch throw in space to Tyler Lockett that represented his final pass of the regular season. His touchdown to Lockett was an absolute dime.
This is a wildly successful year for Geno. Yes, he was written off and I/we have had plenty of takes on Geno as an actual NFL starting QB. He wrote back in the form of a playoff appearance, 30 touchdown passes, the franchise record for completions and passing yards—yeah it’s in 17 games but this is probably how discourse was when the NFL expanded to 16 games from 14 in the 1970s—and he hit all of his incentives to earn the maximum $7 million on his contract.
Geno will get paid this offseason, whether by Seattle or someone else. This is an unforgettable run that has been bumpier in recent weeks, but we should not lose sight of the fact that a widely considered draft bust and career backup was given the chance to start, and he has mostly delivered.
Pete Carroll and John Schneider
The Seahawks have a top-5 pick courtesy of the Denver Broncos and are going to the playoffs with an exciting rookie class that should provide more optimism than skepticism going into next season. Pete Carroll has made the postseason with a faded Matt Hasselbeck (and a heroic Charlie Whitehurst cameo!) and Geno Smith as his quarterbacks. He’s still never won fewer than seven games as Seahawks head coach, and while he still has his quirks and annoyances—how did this team botch all of its 2nd half timeouts that early?—he’s still an all-time great coach with a proven track record of winning at the college and professional ranks. Maybe this isn’t Pete at his absolute peak, but his peak is also a lot higher than an overwhelming majority of other coaches.
Schneider won’t win Executive of the Year but he should at least get votes. The Wilson trade has worked out magnificently, and the 2022 Draft Class has perhaps re-opened a closing window of title contention that, frankly, John and Pete had a hand in creating. There are still serious flaws on both sides of the ball that need to be corrected to make a serious playoff run, but the crash predicted after Wilson got traded hasn’t happened. The injection of talent needed to be good again came quickly. This upcoming offseason is monumental for taking that next step towards being a 10+ win team again.
Noah Fant, Shelby Harris, and Drew Lock
Lock didn’t play a snap this season, but I’m including him because the trio of Fant, Harris, and Lock were all part of the Wilson trade. None of them had experienced playoff football in Denver, and in Harris’ case he never made the playoffs in his two seasons with the Raiders. All three get to be on a playoff team for the very first time, and Fant and Harris may yet be vital contributors against the San Francisco 49ers.
Let go by the 6-win Las Vegas Raiders, then waived by the Green Bay Packers, Abram was claimed by the Seahawks and finds himself on a playoff team. And he’s fared well in his role as a starter in Ryan Neal’s absence.
He felt the love from the crowd pre-game. We started the season watching the greatest QB in franchise history loudly booed. We end the regular season with cheers for the greatest LB in team history.
.@Seahawks fans love @bwagz pic.twitter.com/vOLiOVYtRL— NFL (@NFL) January 9, 2023
This has been a rollercoaster ride. From 6-3 and leading the NFC West to 7-8 and needing to win out with help to make the playoffs. We’ve seen a lot of exciting football and then some of the football we feared we’d get for much of the season. Frustrating losses against the NFC South but impressive wins over playoff teams in the New York Giants and Los Angeles Chargers. And yet through that we’re witnessing one more Seahawks game than most had expected. I’d have considered this season a success with a disappointing outcome had the Packers prevailed, but now it’s a bonafide success no matter what happens against the 49ers.
These past couple of seasons left a sour taste in the mouths of many. The 2020 team was poised for the #1 seed and collapsed into a lopsided home exit in the wild card. The 2021 team was just falling apart at the seams and thoroughly unenjoyable to watch. The 2022 team is providing excitement and renewed hope with a little bonus football at the end, not to mention prime draft capital.
There were a few losers from the Seahawks game but screw it, I’m jovial and everyone gets a one-week reprieve.
- I think we’re in for the best Enemy Reaction ever. Good night and see you in the playoffs!