BY Art Thiel 11:37PM 12/10/2018

Thiel: A Monday in December. They have a knack

Right on cue, the Seahawks found a way to win on a Monday night in December. The 21-7 triumph over the Vikings almost has assured a return to the playoffs.

The Seahawks defense held the Vikings to 77 yards rushing. / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest

The previous game, the Seahawks scored a season-high 43 points. Monday night, they had three points entering in the fourth quarter. They won both games.

Beautiful or brutal, the Seahawks seem to have a knack. After an 0-4 preseason and an 0-2 start to the regular season, exactly no one expected them to have a feel for winning games sufficient to make the 2018 NFL playoffs.

Not without Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril. Then Earl Thomas went down. Now K.J. Wright is hurt. And the Seahawks gave away for nothing good veteran defensive tackles Sheldon Richardson and Tom Johnson, who returned with the Minnesota Vikings with mad-ons. For good (bad?) measure, injuries kept out two key offensive starters, WR Doug Baldwin and RG D.J. Fluker.

None of that mattered. In a game that sometimes seemed as futile as raking a forest, they had the knack. The ungainly 21-7 triumph (box) over the Vikings (6-6-1) — who for reasons unclear to football’s forensic scientists, are still current holders of the final NFC wild-card berth — established that the disbelievers in September were fools.

“I was kinda trying to tell you guys at the beginning of the season that we had a lot of confidence,” said LB Bobby Wagner, for the second week in a row a maker of spectacle. “We started 0-2, had a lot of ups and downs that’s part of growth when you have young guys who need to learn the good and bad.

“If you have all good (to start), then they won’t know what to do during the bad. We got the bad early, which kinda helped us grow a little faster.”

How fast have the 8-5 Seahawks grown? A win Sunday against the 3-10 49ers in Santa Clara assures them of a playoff berth, no matter what other teams do — with two weeks left in the season.

Here’s another way to measure growth, courtesy of Minnesota’s Adam Thielen, who entered the game as the NFL’s leading receiver and had a modest five catches for 70 yards, none until midway through the third quarter.

“That’s a great defense,” he said. “They’re flying around. They’re rushing the passer. They’re creating havoc at all levels of their defense. They’re playing at a high level.”

He sounded more like Pete Carroll than Pete Carroll. Warrior that he is, the Seahawks coach rose to the hyperbole challenge.

“I loved the way (the defense) played,” he said. “They played so hard and so spirited. Just some beautiful football. Not the kind of football that everybody loves, but the kind of football that we love.

“I love winning here in this situation, Monday night (where they are an NFL-best 24-10). Just a lot of good, fun stuff tonight.”

Rarely is the word glee associated with a 67-year-old man. But that’s what it was.

Especially when it came to the game’s pivot point.

With 5:46 left, the Vikings were about to halve the Seahawks’ 6-0 lead with a 47-yard field goal when Wagner leaped the line and blocked the attempt. Seven plays and 64 yards later, the offense scored its only touchdown, followed by a two-point conversion. A tense, coarse affair had blown open.

“This was special because of where the game was at — 6-0,” said Wagner, who the week before turned in the longest pick-six (98 yards) in Seahawks history. “We get the block, we go down and score. It’s the difference between 14-0 and 6-3.

“When I did it in practice, I was pretty fresh. In the fourth quarter, with five minutes left, I was just making sure I got over. Their line was pretty low, and coach liked my (vertical jump).”

Carroll was quick to credit assistant coaches Brian Schneider and Larry Izzo with spotting the vulnerability in the Vikings’ protection.

“They came to me and said, ‘Hey look, we think we have something,'” he said. “That was a great find by those guys.”

Since the last time Wagner blocked a field goal against Arizona, the rules were changed to disallow a run-up, and to ban using crouched players as leverage for a leap. A penalty flag was thrown but picked up after officials conferred.

“They were trying to say, ‘You can’t do that,’ and I’m saying, ‘You can, as long as you start on the line.’ As soon as they thought about it, they said, ‘You right.’

“I said my piece and walked away. That’s what I’m rolling with.”

QB Russell Wilson’s 40-yard option keeper set up the lone offensive TD. / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest

Once Wagner did his thing, it was up to his offensive counterpart in game-changing, Wilson, to do his part. Two plays after Wagner’s block, Wilson had the Seahawks’ longest play, a 40-yard option keeper, huffing past 300-pound DT Danielle Hunter down the sideline to help set up RB Chris Carson’s two-yard run.

Wilson ended up with a career-low passer rating of 37.9 (10 of 20 for 72 yards and one gruesome interception just before halftime), but it didn’t matter because the ground game produced 214 yards and a 5.1 yard average.

Carroll was ecstatic. Again.

“The (Vikings) had only been giving up 90 yards a game rushing, and we rushed for over 200 yards,” he said. “That’s something to be proud of. It was hard to do, and our guys knocked it out.”

On defense, the Seahawks often went to a scheme of seven defensive backs to counter the short passing game of QB Kirk Cousins. As important, all defenders tackled well in the open field, something sorely lacking in the previous game against the 49ers.

“We closed on stuff way better than we have,” Carroll said. “We’ve kind of been sporadic, but it was very consistent.

“Really, it’s a good statement starting off this fourth quarter of the season to play like that on defense.”

The broader statement is that the Seahawks have a knack for winning in a variety of ways with a variety of players. Including throwing a pass to 320-pound tackle-eligible George Fant for a nine-yard gain.

We’d tell you what Carroll said, but the needle on the civic giddy-meter already has been pinned.


YourThoughts

  • Matt Kite

    Lots of folks on Twitter and elsewhere claiming Wagner’s block was illegal. Citing the rulebook verbatim. Saying it was the difference in the game. And, of course, opining that the Seahawks always gets the calls in their favor on prime time. Was it the difference in the game? Nobody knows. But there will be an asterisk next to this one…

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/2018/12/11/seahawks-get-away-with-bobby-wagners-illegal-field-goal-block-win-over-vikings/?utm_term=.60a491016da0

  • Theyfinallyfiredcable

    Wagner put his hands on both his teammates shoulders to hurdle over , and yes – that’s illegal . Doesn’t matter , they’d have lost anyway ..

    The biggest win of the season . Wagner is on fire the last 2 games . Both Griffin and Flowers played solid coverage . The Jacob Martin/Justin Coleman score was fun , but play of the game was either McDougald’s tip in the end zone or Russ scampering for 40 .

    This team is starting to look like that Wild Card team no one wants to play ..

    • Parts

      My understanding of the rule may not be correct. However I believe that it’s a judgement call as to whether the use of hands provides leverage or not. If the judgement is that no leverage was gained, it is not a penalty.

      • tor5

        It also appeared the Wagner’s left foot clipped one of the Viks which, I think, is illegal. But it’s ridiculous to argue about this one play’s affect on the outcome. EVERY game has calls and non-calls that affect things. It’s not like the Hawks haven’t been on the bad side of this before. It’s all part of the drama and fun for fans to argue about… especially fun when you win!

        • art thiel

          The play was magnified not only because it was unusual, but the point swing made it pivotal, since, as Wagner pointed out, the game went from potentially 6-3 to 14-0 in the next series.

    • art thiel

      Putting hands on teammates is allowed. Pushing off (leverage) is not. He didn’t push off.

  • 1coolguy

    I was impressed with the running game, especially considering Minnesota’s run stopping talent AND Fluker being out. I was glad to see RW keep the ball a few times on the option, as it really does make the D honest, since he is a fine runner.
    The pass to Fant was great, as it shows these coaches are willing to mix things up – I can see him catching more passes, but needs to work on his running! His addition as another blocker is a real stroke.
    I was surprised with no passes to the TE’s, as seam routes and short routes appeared to be open – the receivers were not getting open at all.

    • art thiel

      It does have upside. But they do need to extend Clark and Wilson this off-season. But I shouldn’t bring that up now. Enjoy the chuckles of an entertaining game/season.

  • Ron

    Many thanks to the refs for picking up the flag on Wagner. An early Xmas gift that saved the game.

    When do we stop calling pass plays from the one yard line? How many cringe-worthy Wilson interceptions must we endure?

    Thank you Minnesota for giving Cousins $84 million guaranteed and handicapping yourself for years to come.

    • art thiel

      Thanks.

      After re-reading the rule, Wagner’s play was not a foul. But I share your giving of credit to the refs for discussing.

      Apparently the outcome wasn’t Cousins’ fault. They fired the OC today.

  • Tim

    The 4th Quarter was absolute fireworks. Bobby Wagner has stepped up in every way–a true warrior, leader, and mentor. Look out NFL.

  • That was a fun one. Smash mouth football and Seahawks were the bigger bullies and ground down Minnesota’s very solid D late in the game. Carroll and his coaches are having one of their best seasons. Is there anyone better at taking a group of young players, adapting the coaching approach to the talent at hand and convincing them they can win? This team has well-earned swagger and could wreak havoc in the post season. The combo running game of Coleman, Penny, Davis and Wilson behind a solid O line is devastating over 60 minutes. Bonus points for Clark throwing down Sherm to make next weeks game a little more interesting

    • Scott McBride

      Scott, in answer to your question, no. Having had tremendous success at the college level, Pete Carroll is able to do exactly what you said: helping shape the skills, attitude and confidence of a young corps. Everyone is focused on Nagy and McVay, but I nominate PC as coach of the year.

      • +1

      • art thiel

        I’ve always said repeating success is far harder than achieving it. To get back in the hunt after a one-year playoff miss is remarkable.

    • art thiel

      Carroll has always achieved buy-in here and at USC, once he mastered the courage of his convictions. But in pro ball, it’s a matter of getting rid of some top players before they get rid of you.

  • Kevin Lynch

    Yup. As a couple bloggers noted, the Wagner block was illegal. But the defense played spectacularly, coverage and tackling. By the 4th quarter you weren’t even bothered by the color of the uniforms. Interestingly, the win made the Hawks-Chiefs irrelevant for Seattle but that game is likely going to be VERY relevant for KC as far as home field is concerned. If the defense can play in that game like they did last night it will make a big statement. An even bigger statement can be made if they play that way in Dallas in the playoffs. And then in New Orleans the week following. But I’m getting ahead of myself again!

    • ll9956

      A Hawks win over KC (11-2) would be a major upset. Home field advantage will help, as would the return of Fluker, Wright and Baldwin. The Hawks will have to bring their A+ game and play virtually error-free ball in order to have a chance for a victory.

  • Diamond Mask

    Russell played as poorly as Russell can play. I was worried when he walked in looking like the cover of GQ. Perhaps a little too much spotlight and love for the man from ESPN and others. It can go to your head and then mess with it. Plus his wife was performing the halftime show. But the greatness of Wilson is that even if he’s playing terrible he still finds a way to win. That run in the 4th quarter…..the man was booking!

    p.s. as futile as raking the forest. Brilliant.

    • Kirkland

      After the 2014 NFC championship game against the Packers, someone posted an Internet meme of Wilson as the Dos Equis Most Interesting Man in the World: “I don’t always throw four interceptions, but when I do, I still go to the Super Bowl.”

      • art thiel

        Missed that one. I like it.

      • Keith Dudley

        Those 4 INTs in that game, 2 were on Wilson (the 2nd and 3rd ones).
        The first and last ones were completions Jermaine Kearse just let go through his hands.
        People always talk about that game and diss Wilson yet they give Joe Montana hype for doing the exact same thing.
        In the 1981 NFC title game that is known as “THE CATCH”. Montana too had 4 turnovers as he threw 3 INTs and had a fumble but all folks talk about is his greatness on Dwight Clark’s catch.
        Didn’t Wilson throw consecutive bombs for 70 yards to put them in the Super Bowl?
        Interceptions are misleading because they don’t always paint a accurate picture and that game was a perfect example.

    • Husky73

      RAGA = Rake America Great Again. No Smocking Gun here.

      • art thiel

        I still miss the wistful days of covfefe.

        • Husky73

          would wouldn’t

    • art thiel

      Thanks.

      I don’t think he played poorly. Below average, sure, but several of his passes were simply well defensed. The pick was a result of a slip on the turf and a failure to throw OB immediately, which was certainly his mistake. And he was without his security blanket in Baldwin.

      • Keith Dudley

        Art Thiel, read what I wrote earlier about the passes.
        Wilson was 10 of 11 throwing to Lockett, Fant, Brown, Davis, Dickson and Vanett.
        The INT was awful.
        There was a throwaway on the first FG drive to avoid a sack.
        The problem was his chemistry with Moore, a inexperienced WR.
        I saw the guy catch two passes in the endzone where he didn’t come down with his feet inbounds.
        I saw another pass over the middle to him dropped.
        Also, that ball to Lockett that got a 37 yard PI call was money.
        This is why I say passing yards are misleading because a duy like Deshaun Watson can throw a 1 yard screen to Hopkins who runs 74 yards for a TD (see Seattle 2017 game) and folks scream Watson threw a 75 yard TD pass.
        I didn’t see a awful game throwing the ball.

    • Keith Dudley

      Apparently you didn’t watch the same game I watched because if you based him playing poorly based on his passing stats, you don’t understand the game.
      With the exception of that awful INT, Wilson threw the ball really well despite the stats saying he had 72 yards passing. I will breakdown this statement.
      Wilson threw the ball one time each to Dickson, Davis, Vannett, Brown and Fant and he was 5 of 5 throwing to those guys.
      Wilson threw the ball 6 times to Tyler Lockett and was 5 of 6 throwing to him.
      One was a sideline pass that set up the first FG for a 3-0 lead.
      Where his passing stats was misleading was him throwing to David Moore.
      Wilson threw a pass to the endzone that Moore caught and he didn’t get both feet down and replay shows that it might have been a actual TD.
      Wilson threw another pass to Moore on the opposite side of the endzone that Moore caught and again he failed to come down with his feet inbounds.
      Wilson threw another apss over the middle to Moore who dropped that ball.
      On that first FG drive, Wilson threw one ball away to avoid a sack.
      In this game, Wilson was 0-5 when targeting David Moore.
      Wilson also threw a beautiful bomb to Lockett that would have been a TD had not Xavier Rhodes grabbed his arm and Seattle got a 37 yard PI call.
      So like I said, other than that awful INT, there was no bad throws from Wilson.
      David Moore is a low round inexperienced WR and he has yet to develop the skill of properly getting his feet down.
      This is why Baldwin’s absence hurt the team because those passes should have been completions.
      Now you tell me the throws that were bad other than that INT.

  • Scott McBride

    Can someone please tell me the name of the color of the Seahawks’ uniforms last night? I don’t think we will be choosing that to paint our house.

    • Kirkland

      Steve Raible said it was “Action Green”.

    • Diamond Mask

      lol.

    • Kristafarian

      It’s known as this-color-sux-so-bad-you-don’t-Ever-wanna-touch-it Green.

      As long as the Hawks can Win in it,
      I guess it’s good enough for me.

      Headed to The Greenhouse, we are!

    • Effzee
    • Ken S.

      As long as they keep winning they can wear pink for all I care!No,,, wait… The mental image of Bobby Wagner in pink is… Oh, never mind!

    • Husky73

      It was Oregonducksoup.

    • art thiel

      I tweeted that it was digestive-fluid green.

    • Ron

      Antifreeze green. Dyed in ethylene glycol.

  • Kirkland

    Someone suggested Pete Carroll as a leading Coach of the Year candidate. Can’t disagree, I thought this would be a 6-10, 7-9 transition year, and playoff contention would be gravy.

    • art thiel

      He’s a worthy consideration because so many joined you in dogging his off-season decisions. I wrote 8-8, so I’m still not wrong, but figures to go away Sunday.

    • jafabian

      I wish but doubt it. Voters usually go for someone with less experience and success plus despite having no LOB and a lesser D-Line than the previous season he still has Russell Wilson and Bobby Wagner. I’m predicting Matt Nagy or Bill O’Brien with Andy Reid having an outside shot at the award.

    • Ron
  • antirepug3

    Finally! The defense got stingy on the ground as well as in the air!

  • Kristafarian

    “’They [refs] were trying to say, ‘You can’t do that,’ and I’m [Bobby W] saying, ‘You can, as long as you start on the line.’”

    Way to Go, Bobby!

    Way to reframe the debate:
    ‘Look at my FEET, fools, not my hands!’

    The Prez could learn a thing or two from you!

    • art thiel

      I would pay to sit in on 54 trash-talking Individual-1.

  • jafabian

    Sad that the Vikings OC lost his job over this game. Cousins is a good QB but he’s paid like a great QB and the expectations that come with that are high. There seemed to be a disconnect between the offense and the coaches but the entire game Cousins did not seem comfortable. Props to the defense for causing that.

  • Ken S.

    I guess I need to update my prediction for the Hawks. I made an 8-8 prediction. Looks like they’re going to eclipse my guess by a few wins, and that’s a good thing! I’m very impressed with the running game, outside the red zone, anyway. Color me surprised at how this season is going, more of a reloading season than a rebuild season. Those rebuilds have a habit of stretching out a few years, doesn’t look to be the case this year. Prognosticating? Hawks win their wild card game, after that? How can they lose? It’s all downhill, what with the favorable schedule and all. Only one away game left in the regular season, and only one that looks like it’ll be tough is the KC game.Go Hawks!

  • John M

    Strange game from beginning to end, but the guys played hardball all the way. The first TD didn’t come until there were only about 3 minutes left. Until then, no one knew how it would end. Though Bobby got most of the accolades, Coleman was kind of my hero last night. He’s playing some great ball. And what can you say about the new coaches? Imagine if Fant learns to run without falling down – he could be the next refrigerator in short yardage situations . . .

  • Husky73

    I posted in the preseason that the Seahawks were a 4-6 win team. I not only have egg on my face, but an entire omelet. Carroll has (again) done a remarkable job.

    • Diamond Mask

      I seem to remember that……….

  • Mark Thurston

    a comment I posted on this website in discussion 4 months ago. . . .

    “Kevin Boilard from 247 Sports says 4-12. . Don’t know how this could be more disrespectful to Pete Carroll. Pete Carroll is 1 of only 2 coaches to win a national championship and a SuperBowl. His worst record as a coach was 1994 with the NY Jets at 6-10. Only in complete rebuild years has his teams won less than 8 games. . at worst were looking at 9-7 this year. .but I think we can win 11 if things go right even with a tough schedule such as this year. I think we’ll run the ball well this year and win at least 10 games.”

    lol. . who the heck is Kevin Boilard anyway?

    • art thiel

      Well done, Mark. You win the Golden Rake. Prepare the forest floor. Your foresight shall save us all from destruction.

      • Mark Thurston

        Ha!. . I’ll pass on the rake thanks. . .I’m learning just a little faster than the average fan how to anticipate and rely on the success of what is finally an elite football organization right here in our back yard. . . just asking the negative folks to embrace the culture. . Win Forever! Go Hawks!

        • tor5

          Well said! I may not be as well documented as you, Mark, but I was saying “playoff team” from day one. Pete has some things figured out. And when Schneider keeps great vets who buy-in (and dumps those who don’t), real magic is always possible.

          • Mark Thurston

            I must say Pete Carroll’s laser sharp focus in removing non buy in guys remains pristine . . veteran or not.

  • Chris Alexander

    Not to disparage DJ Fluker cuz our offensive line solidified and our rushing attack rocketed up to #1 after he came back from his preseason injury to start in Week 3. But ….. the Seahawks have rushed for 200+ yards twice this season and a rookie started in Fluker’s spot in both of those games. Crazy!

  • Effzee

    The question I have is for Brian Schottenheimer, probable successor to Pete Carroll: Being an ex-QB, is he satisfied with winning by running the ball 30+ times per game? I have seen many ex-QB coordinators, and they all usually tend to want to throw the ball a lot and have a QB-centrifc offense. I want to know if Schottenheimer is just fine with winning in this way, or does he feel constrained by Pete Carroll, and given the choice would he be passing the ball a lot more? How much does he value just winning, versus winning with a flashy passing game?

    • art thiel

      Brian is happy. The pass efficiency of the Seahawks offense is near the top, Sunday notwithstanding. He saw the results of unbalanced playcalling in the first two games.

      • Effzee

        Cool. Thanks for the reply. I hope this rejuvenates Pete and he stays awhile. But I can see the future of the NFC West as the Shanahan and Schottenheimer Kids versus McVay and (insert rotating Cardinals coach name here).

  • Keith Dudley

    Career averages for TD passes per season (with 3 games left this season).
    (1) Drew Brees (28.8).
    (2) Russell Wilson (27.2).
    (3) Tom Brady and Andy Dalton (26.9).
    (4) Matt Ryan (26.2).
    (5) Phillip Rivers (24.7).
    (6) Derek Carr (24.2).
    (7) Aaron Rodgers (24.0).
    (8) Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger (23.8).
    (9) Andrew Luck (23.7).
    (10) Matthew Stafford (23.4).
    (11) Carson Wentz (23.3).
    (12) Cam Newton (22.8).
    (13) Dak Prescott (20.7)
    (14) Jared Goff (20.0).
    (15) Joe Flacco (19.3).
    (16) Kirk Cousins (17.6).
    (17) Ryan Tannehill (17.4).
    (18) Alex Smith (14.8).
    The list was compiled with amount of TD passes by the amount of time a player has been in the NFL.
    So if a player was on the bench, not playing or injured, it reduced their numbers (like Brees, Brady, Luck, Rodgers, Stafford, Wentz and Flacco-all who were either backups or had injuries at some points in their careers).
    The players who have been consistent starters and rarely miss games, this list helps their numbers because you compiled numbers if you’re on the field and this helps players like Rivers, Manning, Wilson, Ryan and Carr who have played in all of their games or has missed very few.