The Seahawks play one among Packers, Saints or 49ers in two weeks in the divisional playoffs. Question: Which potential opponent is best for Seattle? Vote here.
After tying a franchise record for fewest rushing yards (13) allowed in their 27-9 victory over St. Louis Sunday, the Seahawks have a week off before hosting one among Green Bay, New Orleans or San Francisco in the divisional round of the playoffs in two weeks. Seattle’s combined record at home the past two seasons against those three: 4-0.
In the four, two in 2012 and two this season, the Seahawks outscored the Packers, 49ers and Saints by a combined 119-35. A quick rewind:
Seahawks 14, Packers 12 / Sept. 24, 2012
In the infamous “Fail Mary” game, Golden Tate shoved a Green Bay defender out of the way, grappled with another for the ball, and was a awarded a disputed touchdown, officially 24 yards from Russell Wilson, on the final play. The national outrage against the NFL’s replacement referees reached its apex after the call, and helped settle the labor dispute. Tate also caught a 41-yard TD. Seattle’ defense beat up on Aaron Rodgers, sacking him eight times, four by Chris Clemons, all in the first half. Clemons’ performance matched Derrick Thomas’s 1992 NFL record.
Seahawks 42, 49ers 13 / Dec. 23, 2012
Wilson threw a career-high four touchdowns, Marshawn Lynch rushed for 111 yards and scored two first-half TDs, and Richard Sherman returned Red Bryant’s blocked field goal 90 yards for another score as Pete Carroll snapped a three-game losing streak to arch-nemesis Jim Harbaugh. The Seahawks converted 11 of 13 third downs as Wilson finished with a Total QBR of 97.6, the highest allowed by the 49ers in a game since the start of the 2008 season.
Seahawks 29, 49ers 3 / Sept. 22, 2013
Marshawn Lynch scored on runs of 14 and 2 yards and added a 7-yard TD reception in the second half, Seattle flustered Colin Kaepernick into his worst passing game as a starter (127 yards, 3 interceptions, 20.1 passer rating), forced the 49ers into five turnovers, and held them to no TDs in a game for only the third time since 1979. The Seahawks did all almost all of their damage in the second half. The 5-0 halftime score was the first in the NFL since 1992.
Seahawks 34, Saints 7 / Dec. 2, 2013
Wilson threw for 319 yards and three touchdowns and finished with a quarterback rating of 139.6 as the Seahawks became the first team to clinch a playoff spot. The Seahawks held QB Drew Brees to 147 yards and prevented the Saints from cracking 100 yards of total offense until midway through the third quarter. Although the Seahawks played without CB Brandon Browner (injured) and CB Walter Thurmond (suspension), Brees failed to complete a pass longer than 15 yards, the first time that had happened to him since 2006.
By holding the Rams to nine points Sunday, the Seahawks finished the regular season as the NFL leader in points allowed per game (14.4), yards allowed per game (273.6), pass yards allowed per game (172.0), interceptions (28) and turnover margin (+20). They also led the NFC in point differential at +186. How Seattle compares across the board to its three potential playoff opponents:
|Record||8-7-1||11-5||12-4||13-3||Seahawks tie franchise record|
|Yards Per Game||400.2||399.4||323.7||339.0||GB, NO 3-4, Seahawks 17th|
|Rush Offense/Game||133.5||92.6||137.6||136.8||Niners 3rd, Seahawks 4th|
|Pass Offense/Game||307.4||266.8||186.2||202.3||Packers 6th, Seahawks 26th|
|Points Per Game||26.1||25.9||25.4||26.1||Packers, Seahawks rank T8|
|Yards Allowed/Game||372.2||305.6||316.9||273.6||Seahawks 1st, Saints 4th|
|Rush Defense/Game||125.0||111.6||137.6||136.8||Niners 4th, Seahawks T8|
|Pass Defense/Game||247.3||194.1||221.0||172.0||Seahawks 1st by 22.1 ypg|
|Points Allowed/Game||26.8||19.0||17.0||14.4||Seahawks 1st, 49ers 3rd|
|Turnover Differential||-3||0||+12||+20||Seahawks 1st, Niners T2|
|Point Differential||-11||+110||+134||+186||Seahawks 1st NFC, 2nd NFL|
Based solely on numbers, Green Bay has the weakest defense of three potential playoff opponents, and therefore the best matchup for Seattle’s inconsistent offense. But the Packers also feature the most productive offense, especially with Rodgers back at quarterback. They average 26.1 points, same as Seattle. So which of the three would you most like to see Seattle play (see poll below)?
WILSON! By completing 15 of 23 for 172 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions, Russell Wilson compiled a 102.1 passer rating against the Rams, enabling him to finish the regular season at 101.2. That’s the highest single-season mark by a Seahawks quarterback with a minimum of 160 attempts, slightly ahead of Wilson’s 100.0 in 2012. The single-season record prior to Wilson: 98.2 by Matt Hasselbeck in 2005.
Wilson is the first player in NFL history with 100-plus passer ratings in each of his first two seasons and the third quarterback since the 1970 merger with a passer rating greater than 100.0 in his second season in the league. The others: Dan Marino, 1984 (108.9), and Kurt Warner, 1999 (109.2).
Had OT Russell Okung not been caught holding DE Robert Quinn just before halftime, Wilson’s touchdown pass to Golden Tate would not have been nullified. He would have finished the season with 27 TDs instead of 26. In that event, Wilson would have 53 to show for his first two seasons, one more than Peyton Manning in his first two (1998-99).
Wilson and Manning are tied for second on the list, behind Marino’s 68.
Wilson’s average gain is 8.09 yards, highest in franchise history, breaking the mark of 7.31 by Dave Krieg from 1980-91. Wilson is also the franchise record holder for highest percent of passes going for touchdowns (6.5) and lowest percentage of passes intercepted (2.38).
NUMBERS: The Seahawks allowed 231 points during the regular season, fewest in a 16-game schedule . . . Seattle allowed 22 touchdowns, fewest in a non-strike season . . . Seahawks allowed 4,378 yards, also fewest in a non-strike season . . . Seahawks allowed an NFL-best four rushing touchdowns, tying the franchise record (1991) . . . Seahawks scored 417 points, third-highest total in franchise history . . . Steven Hauschka made 94.29 percent of his field goals (33 of 35), breaking the franchise mark of 92.31 by Olindo Mare in 2009 . . . Seahawks held the Rams to -2 yards rushing in the first half Sunday, setting a club record. Previous: 4 yards vs. Cincinnati Sept. 23, 2007 . . . Rams finished with 13 yards on 18 carries, marking the first time in Seattle’s 38 seasons that it held an opponent below 1.0 yards per carry . . . Since 2008, Jon Ryan has had 169 punts downed inside the 20, including 28 this season, a team record beating Rick Tuten’s 147 between 1991-97.
SPEAKING OF RYAN: The Seattle punter was not among the six Seahawks (Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, Max Unger, Marshawn Lynch and Russell Wilson) or three alternates (Steven Hauschka, Russell Okung, Golden Tate) named to the Pro Bowl Friday. He probably should have been.
Although Ryan ranked 19th in net punting yards — the stat apparently used to select Pro Bowl punters — he ranked first in fair catches and second in return yards against (82) and average return against (3.9). A 32-yard return by Austin Pettis in the second half Sunday kept him from leading the NFL in the latter two categories, and prevented the Seahawks from setting an NFL record for fewest punt return yards allowed in a season.
They entered Sunday’s game having allowed 25 in 15 games and permitted the Rams 57 on five returns. Minus net punting average, Ryan had a year comparable to both Pro Bowl punters — Miami’s Brandon Fields and Johnny Hekker of the Rams — and probably a better year than Fields, who allowed 407 yards on returns to Ryan’s 82.