BY Art Thiel 02:23AM 10/12/2020

Thiel: Can’t explain ’em, but Seahawks are 5-0

First-half collapse, followed by instant renaissance, then another last play stop of the foe before the stage is set for Seattle’s drama king and his court.

DK Metcalf hauls in the game-winning touchdown just beyond the reach of Vikings FS Anthony Harris. / Corky Trewin, Seattle Seahawks

We’ve been to cliff’s edge with Russell Wilson and the Seahawks so many times. The dangle should feel normal: Fingernails trenching up dirt, hands uprooting the only shrub, cold canyon air sweeping up pantlegs, the abyss beckoning.

But it never feels normal.

Even to Pete Carroll.

“I can’t express to the people out there how it feels like when we are going on the field,” he said,” even though (the end zone) was 94 yards away and a minute and 25.”

But of course, he and Wilson don’t have to explain it. They just have to do it. It’s we faint-hearted types who have the rest of our lives to explain it to each other.

Do it, the Seahawks did. Again. Preposterously.

“We’re having a blast,” Carroll said. “We’re just getting started. This season is a million miles long.”

Gah. Don’t say that. There’s not enough fingernails in the Northwest.

And don’t giggle in front of the Vikings, poor guys.

After the 27-26 defeat (box) in the rain at the Clink on national TV, Minnesota (1-4) is now 0-7 against the Seahawks since Wilson’s arrival in Seattle. Despite gaining 449 yards and 31 first downs in building five scoring drives of 11 or more plays each against the worst defense the NFL, they couldn’t get one more scroungy little yard on a fourth-and-1 at the Seattle six-yard line.

“It was about a half a yard. If we got the half a yard, we win the game,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said. “So I was trying to go win it. I told (coaches) on the headset, ‘We didn’t come here for this. Let’s go win it.’”

But they didn’t get it. LB Bobby Wagner and DE Benson Mayowa stoned RB Alexander Mattison, gave the ball to Wilson, and there went the outcome.

Remarkably, Seahawks are 5-0 for the first time in franchise history, yet they are three late-moment defensive plays from being 2-3 and swirling about the convulsed NFL landscape like about 25 other teams.

The denial of Mattison followed the upending of QB Cam Newton on the Patriots’ last offensive play to save the win over New England, and the interception of Dak Prescott to save the win over Dallas on its last offensive play.

“Who woulda thunk it?” Carroll said, grinning about the Vikings’ stop. “We didn’t play things as clearly as we need to (prior to the final play). They were running plays that we had practiced, but we got blocked. We’re usually really good at that stuff, and then tonight we had some problems, some issues.”

They figured it out just in time, also benefiting from the second-half absence of Vikings RB Dalvin Cook (groin strain), the NFL’s leading rusher. The good fortune followed one of the worst first halves in team history (three possessions, no points, 66 yards of offense), which was followed by three offensive touchdowns in 1:53 of the third quarter, perhaps the best two-minute scoring burst in club annals.

That was thrilling,” Carroll said. “It’s reminiscent of games we’ve played here in the past. Kind of like the avalanche, or the surge, hits, and that was just what we needed.”

After Minnesota recovered to lead 26-21 before failing at Seattle 6, the final whipsaw was at hand. Wilson took over an offense that to that point had failed to convert a single third down in seven tries and converted twice on fourth down.

He first struck with a 39-yard bomb to WR DK Metcalf to reach the Vikings’ 38-yard line. Then with 15 seconds left from the Vikings 6, he found Metcalf on a crossing route with a laser that was barely beyond the reach of FS Anthony Harris.

The drive was the personification of Wilson’s playmaking, including a 17-yard scramble on the first play to force the Vikings to dedicate a defender to spy him.

“Honestly, going through the whole drive, it was just so poised,” Carroll said.
“The players were poised, the coaches were poised, we talked through every single instance that was happening there; measured what we were doing with our time outs.

“We’ve just been through this so much that we really have a nice mentality about us. (OC Brian Schottenheimer)  called things that he knew Russ knew really well, so Russ would be able to exercise the options based on whatever they tried to play in that situation.

“Before the final play, we called time out to just take another look, and gave
Russ a little bit more time to clear his head, and he throws a freakin’ strike to win the football game. Marvelous.”

Metcalf, who had six receptions for 93 yards and two scores, is developing a supreme confidence with Wilson.

“Any time we’re in that moment,” he said, “it’s easy for us to just go out there and play our football because we know we’ve got a quarterback that can make anything possible.”

With the ultimate moment upon him following three incompletions, Wilson did as he almost always does.

“Just kind of scanned the whole field,” he said. “Looked left, looked right, came back to DK. Boom, there he was. Tried to zip it in there to him just before the (pass rusher) kind of got to me.

“I don’t even know how to explain it.”

If he can’t explain it, none of us can, even after witnessing 33 previous game-winning drives led by Wilson in the fourth quarter or overtime.

Feel free, however, to savor each harrowing, exhilarating moment of the enterprise. Nothing at this level is going on anywhere else in the NFL.

Seahawks LB K.J. Wright spears an interception one-handed that was intended for rookie WR Justin Jefferson. / Corky Trewin, Seattle Seahawks


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YourThoughts

  • ll9956

    Based on predictions by the “experts”, I was hoping this wouldn’t be another gut-wrencher. So much for those hopes. The defense in the first half was getting sliced to ribbons. Things looked bad. Then the second half started with a three-and-out. OY! Then miracles started to happen and the D did just barely enough to win. Arguably that’s all they needed to do. They desperately need Jamal Adams to recover. Hopefully with a week more to rest and heal that will happen and the Hawks will continue to blaze a trail into previously untracked territory. Russell’s fourth quarter performance belongs in the realm of the unbelievable. Whew!!!

    • art thiel

      They desperately need Adams to get healthy and revive the defense.

      Might have been the single best one of the Wilson game-winning drives.

      • Chris Alexander

        With any luck, they’ll have Adams AND Brooks back after the bye. And maybe Green as well. And, assuming he’s in “football shape” – meaning that his conditioning is where it should be, NOT that his body looks like a football – maybe “Snacks” will make his debut in Arizona against Kyler Murray and the Cardinals.

        And let’s not forget that the trade deadline is fast approaching. Seattle doesn’t have much draft capital at this point but they “stole” Diggs for a 5th round pick last season and JS is always working so HOPEFULLY there will some reinforcements coming from that direction as well.

        And, on the offensive side of the ball, we should finally get a chance to see Dorsett take an official snap as a Seahawk after the bye. And, who knows, maybe Josh Gordon will get reinstated by then as well (per the CBA, a decision on his reinstatement application is past due).

        Also, assuming they’re on track rehab-wise, Rashaad Penny (PUP) and Darrell Taylor (NFI) should be eligible to rejoin the team “soon” too. I forget what the PUP rules are but, if he’s healthy, Taylor could start practicing after the Arizona game (Week 7) and could be on the field when Seattle hosts the Rams (Week 10).

  • jafabian

    Never second guess the Seahawks. The Vikings took a chance on 4th down in the 4th quarter and paid for it. Give DangeRuss an inch and he’ll make you regret it. This is one game where I really wish the 12s were at the CLink. The place would have exploded when DK caught the go ahead score. By doing all this on SNF Russ got some huge recognition for the MVP award and DK for the Pro Bowl. Cody Barton and Bobby Wagner also both had 14 total tackles. Can’t recall the last time 2 Seahawks both had such a high number in the same game.

    • art thiel

      Too many of the tackles were downfield. Poor job by the front seven until the final defensive play.

      • Ed Walsh

        Your are right, Art. Superbowl not happening until those get fixed. Barring injuries, though, looks like its possible for the team to coach out of the defensive hole. They’ve already got the “moment” plays, and dispite doubts about Ken Norton, the defensive players are on a roll. #3 makes the defense try harder, yes?

  • Seattle Psycho

    5-0 going into the Bye week scares me. Not for any wins/losses, upcoming schedule or anything like that but because a week off may relax the guys a bit too much. All it takes is one person to slip up and we are in Titans territory. Hopefully the team can stay on point with whatever they are doing that is working so far so we can see more of this Magic this season.

    • Stacy Jarvis

      Google is paying $192 for every single hour….. Previous Monday I’ve got my first Mercedes-AMG right after getting my biggest payout of $35475 for a week..(be74)… It seems un-believable but you won’t forgive yourself if you do not check it (Go to “Home” Option within it to get details)>>>>>>>>> http://www.jumpzoo.com/google/job/online ★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★:::::

    • art thiel

      It’s Carroll’s biggest worry too. Every NFL coach dreads the bye this year. Hard to coach against human nature of 23 year olds.

  • 2nd place is 1st loser

    Just when you thought you’d seen it all. Boom they pull off another miracle of snatching victory from the jaws of defeat. With that said, the defense has to be living on borrowed time. At some point being last in total defense has to catch up to them, doesn’t it?

    In other news Dan Quinn is out of a job, any remote chance that Ken Norton could be ushered into another job in the organization, such as, say head of parking lot security and Quinn could get his old job back as DC. Go Hawks.

    • Bobby Cobb

      Yeah, I don’t see how they can sustain this. Once someone figures out how to stop Russ (as the Vikings did in the first half), the wheels will come off and we’ll hear how overrated the Seahawks are and how so-and-so “exposed” them. Then again, maybe they’ll just score 30 to 40 points a game all the way to the Super Bowl. ;)

      • art thiel

        Wilson stopped himself in first half with sacks (see the Monday column). Nearly every team has some similar version of defensive problems. The game has changed in one year.

        • Chris Alexander

          Agreed. Well, that and the fact that the best way to beat the defense the Vikings were playing is to run the ball and force them to bring the safeties up. Yet despite averaging 7.8 yards per carry for the game, Seattle only ran the ball 16 times . . . and 5 of those 16 were RW3 scrambles that originally started as pass plays. In the rain, against the D the Vikings were playing, the decision to only call 11 running plays boggles the mind.

    • art thiel

      No way does Carroll change DCs midseason, and certainly not with this thin defense.

      Look around the league, and you’ll find a lot of bad defensive numbers. Covid and the rules changes have severely hurt defenses, as well as the absence of practices.

  • Bruce McDermott

    No mention of the “stoning” on that 4th down play should leave out Cody Barton. He stood up the lead blocker, Ham, in the hole. Without that, it’s game over. That actually surprised me coming from Barton. He’s not exactly been a stout defender in the hole. But this time he diagnosed quickly and demonstrated some serious sand in the pants.

    • Husky73

      Two biggest plays of the season thus far are two fourth down stops– last night, and Cam Newton.

      • Bruce McDermott

        On defense, for sure. Tough not to include the offense somewhere in a greatest hits list, though…

    • art thiel

      Good point about Barton’s move on Ham. But while the 14 tackles are an impressive number, several were downfield after the RBs went through Seattle’s second level. I saw him over-matched several times. He’s still below NFL average.

  • Kevin Lynch

    Russ doesn’t get mental in big moments. He gets instinctual. Like a mountain lion. No skepticism on the hunt, just reaction time. Seattle is in a great position right now. They have time to improve the defense. But Minnesota has to be destroyed. One of the most dominant possession games they will ever play. A two-to-one advantage on the clock. And they lose the game and go to 1-4. Say what you will about Cousins but he was the best player on the field last night. Personally, on the last Minnesota drive, I’m kicking the field goal. Make the Hawks go 75 yards and concert the two-pointer and even if they do you are still tied. And if you go for it on 4th down I’m thinking play action, run/pass option.

    • art thiel

      The Vikings knew the Seahawks knew they weren’t passing on 4th-and-1. Not in Zimmer’s DNA to go sissy on 4th and 18 inches, His quote proved it. No play action. The backup RB is not Dalvin Cook. Zimmer let his emotions overtake his judgement.

      • Kevin Lynch

        Maybe Zimmer’s emotions were supported by the knowledge that his contract has three more years to run after this year. Example #316 as to why contract extensions can be bueno for the contractee.

  • DJ

    Thanks Art!
    I listen to the post game press conferences. You ask great questions. Do you ever get a direct answer? ;^)

    Seems like the Vikings punched the Seahawks in the mouth right from the start. The fact that the Hawks recovered coming out after half time is owed to their resilience. Still, no haltime speech can fix the defensive woes. They were so bullied around. It’s almost by chance that they stop them on fourth down – guessing correctly or a misread by the offense. We know what to expect when Russ gets a chance to win late – he and the offense just rise above.

    Regardless of the strength of their wins, 5-0 may give them the advantage to snag home field in the playoffs, unless they totally collapse between now and then. They’ve not had that valuable advantage for a while. Maybe if we get our new heat seeking Adams back and some new brilliance in defensive schemes to contribute to the cause, they can do that.

    • art thiel

      It’s the least reporters can do. And rarely do I get straight answers. But no offense taken; newsmakers are trained to avoid the truth.

      The absences of Adams, Irwin and Blair are significant. Hope all keep that in mind.

  • Archangelo Spumoni

    Surprised at this one: Cody Barton had 14 tackles, 9 solo.
    In the middle of the hysteria, myself included, this stat was weird.

    • 1coolguy

      Weird? Why? He plays the Will LB so maybe the Vikings wanted to run away from
      KJ, who only had 2 tackles, 1 solo and of course the INT.

    • art thiel

      Tackle stats are among the lesser numbers explaining effectiveness.

  • Warchild_70

    Hmmmmm what do I want after tis game? A case of Maalox??” I know!! Two more Boiler Makers please, then the Maalox. Sheeeeeeesh!!

    • Brent Hannon

      how about a class-action suit for deliberately raising the blood pressure and stomach acid of countless fans? or maybe Russell Wilson is the maalox? He’s certainly a lot calmer than we are.

      • art thiel

        From Wikipedia: Keep Calm and Carry On was a motivational poster produced by the British government in 1939 in preparation for World War II. The poster was intended to raise the morale of the British public, threatened with widely predicted mass air attacks on major cities.

    • Kevin Lynch

      Cardiac Kids, baby. Just like with Pete at USC. Delivery when the chips are down.

    • art thiel

      Pot is legal, as is the remote control.

  • Husky73

    Before this season (even with the COVID), I had a full head of jet black hair. By the time the season is over, I shall look like Larry David.

    • 2nd place is 1st loser

      Could be worse, you could be a white haired guy with a fly on your head on national TV.

    • art thiel

      Please send photo of the jet black hair.

      • Husky73

        Researching 1964……….

  • 1coolguy

    This ending was as good as it gets, so whatever superlatives people use are appropriate.

    I must say watching the lack of defense, especially after the record setting LOB years, is really difficult. I’m not knowledgeable enough to know which part of the D is so terrible, the DB’s or the DL (the LB’s are doing well). Watching the DB’s get torched every game makes me wonder what would be if the DH ET were still roaming at safety – he was one of the best, and the current defensive backfields’ results are really difficult to digest. We are last in the league as a team in passing yards given up, and after years of the LOB it’s even more difficult to watch. This DL gives no QB pressure (23rd in sacks) therefore the passing stats, or are the DB’s this bad?
    Perhaps the MVP, after RW of course, is Mike Dixon – where would we have been if not for this guys punts inside the red zone? I can’t find stats for punters but this guy really is remarkable.
    https://www.espn.com/nfl/stats/team/_/view/defense/table/rushing/sort/rushingYards/dir/asc

    • Bruce McDermott

      Dickson is a weapon, no doubt. Uncanny. Although last night the defense repeatedly managed to squander the field position he gave them.

      This team requires a whole new mindset, as you say. Personally, I love defense, so it’s a stretch. Hard to be too bummed out so far, however.

      The defense seems to show different problems game to game, with some constants. The run defense was really bad last night, but has been good before. The pass rush has been really bad before, but was better last night (although with too much blitzing necessary to get pressure for my tastes). The linebackers have been good, but were not great last night. The number of tackles can be a misleading stat when it comes to linebackers. Tackles 8+ yards past the line of scrimmage are much different from tackles in the box. With at least one notable exception on the 4th down stop, Barton and Wagner were getting cut effectively by lead blocks all night, in part because the DL was being handled at the line of scrimmage by the OL, which left the backs free to do their thing on the LBs…

      • 2nd place is 1st loser

        As I commented earlier, is there any chance that John and Pete would cut Norton loose 5 games into the season? I doubt it, but there’s something that isn’t right with this defense. They’re living on borrowed time I think. Being last in defense has got to come back and bite you in the @ss at some point. Paging Dan Quinn, paging Dan Quinn, please pick up the white courtesy telephone.

        • jafabian

          They’ve replaced Clowney with Collier essentially. The shortcomings of the defense is due to personnel and injuries. The Super Bowl team had more than half the defense go to the Pro Bowl. This defense isn’t anything like that. The offense is the focus largely because of Wilson. They’ve invested quite a bit into him I believe.

          • art thiel

            This defense, thin already, is missing starters Irvin and Blair, and is getting nothing from the two top draft picks in Brooks and Taylor, and Dunbar is hurting.

          • Husky73

            Where, if anywhere, does Ford fit in?

          • Chris Alexander

            They also flat out did NOT replace either Quinton Jefferson or Al Woods. At least not until this past week when they signed “Snacks” to the practice squad.

        • art thiel

          Norton isn’t the problem. Insufficient pass-rush talent is the problem.

      • Chris Alexander

        The run defense was TIRED last night. Not only were they on the field for nearly 40 minutes (39:38, officially), but Minnesota ran a total of 83 plays. 83!! And 41 of those were run plays.

        League-wide, through last night, 18 of the 26 teams that played this week ran the ball 20 or more times. 7 of those ran it 30 or more times. Only 1 ran it 40+.

        On a per carry basis, Seattle yielded 4.9 yards each time Minnesota ran the ball. That’s their worst performance this season, but not by a lot. Against Miami they yielded 4.68 yards per carry. But Miami only ran the ball 22 times and barely cracked the century mark (103).

        Seattle’s run defense wasn’t really “bad” though – they weren’t even the worst one on the field in Seattle last night.

        League-wide, through last night, 7 teams had given up more yards per carry than Seattle’s 4.9. Chicago (5.3), Pittsburgh (5.9), Jacksonville (5.9), Carolina (6.6), Cincinnati (6.7), and Miami (6.9) all gave up more yards per carry than Seattle did.

        And, sitting alone at the top of that list, nearly a full yard “ahead” of Miami’s 6.9, sits the Minnesota Vikings, who yielded 7.8 yards on average when Seattle ran the ball.

        On a related note, the longest run play Seattle had given up before last night was a 15-yarder to Todd Gurley on the second play Atlanta ran in Week 1. Last night they gave up a 16-yarder, a 20-yarder, and a 25-yarder. Those 3 runs skew both the statistics and the perception.

        • art thiel

          YPC is a useful statistic, but doesn’t reflect its primary value: Clock-eating. The Vikes nearly pulled off their game plan: In an empty stadium where offensive signals can be heard, keep Wilson off the field with the run game. It barely missed working.

          • Chris Alexander

            True. But it’s worth noting that through the first 3 quarters, Minnesota only had 26 rushes for 97 yards. In the 4th quarter they ran the ball 15 times for 104. On the other side of their attack, Cousins was 22 of 33 for 199 heading into the 4th but only threw the ball 5 times in the 4th.

            I agree that Minnesota’s plan was to make Russ and Seattle’s offense watch the game as much as possible and Minnesota is clearly a good running team (currently #4 in the league at 160.6 yards per game; up from 150.5 before they played Seattle). But had they kept up the same pass/run ratio they had through the first 3 quarters, they might have won the game. As was, they still almost did.

      • Husky73

        I plead total bias, but I’d sure like to see a fresh BBK get a few reps on defense.

        • art thiel

          It’d be a great story, but he’s just too small for LB in the NFL. Good special teams guy who could make a place for himself there.

      • art thiel

        Each matchup is different, but Carroll was genuinely shocked at how helpless his D-line was against MIN. He wouldn’t have signed an out of shape Snacks if they weren’t desperate. I thought Reed had some big moments, but he and Ford are often getting run over.

        • Chris Alexander

          As he was walking off the field at halftime, Zimmer told the sideline reporter, “We have to make some adjustments; #90 is killing us.”

    • art thiel

      Thomas’s career was on the slide last year. Inevitable after age and broken legs, plus whatever has happened to him since he left SEA.

      I’ve been meaning to ask Carroll who gets the ball downfield better, Wilson or Dickson.

      • 1coolguy

        That’s a tough bet!
        One play that I recall is the TWO STEPS DK had on the db when RW threw one of his few errant passes too long for DK to track down. RW was in the grasp so it is understandable, but they came within inches of yet another TD by the dynamic duo!
        I think it’s time to initiate a nickname for RW to DK – Art, you’re on!

        • art thiel

          If we didn’t have one for Payton to Kemp, I think we’re unlikely to help you.

          • 1coolguy

            Hey, no fair punting – We had LOB for the stellar D, so by the end of the season we will continue to see these two entertain us with more masterpieces. With your literary imagination, I’m sure you will coin a name or two by the playoffs Art.

          • Chris Alexander

            Defenses tend to get nicknames – LOB, Purple People Eaters, the Steel Curtain, etc. Offensive combos, not so much. Russ was quoted this week as saying he wants him and DK to become like Rice and Montana. Did they have a nickname?

  • 1coolguy

    Is it time to replace Norton with Quinn? The last place D is not cutting it. We were 11th last year in total points allowed – are the personnel that much worse this year?
    I ask others to offer their insight – players or would Quinn be what we need?

    • jafabian

      Correct me if I’m wrong but the Hawks are undefeated. How is that not cutting it? And didn’t they deny a crucial 4th down play in the 4th quarter? And if Quinn is so awesome he’d still have a job. Yes, I am aware he is the former Hawks DC but he was here only for two seasons.

      • 1coolguy

        Again, the D is 32nd of 32 teams. Must I repeat?

        • art thiel

          Stats are a reflection of lack of talent, not coaching.

          • 1coolguy

            I understand the D is low on talent, but 32nd? It doesn’t bode well for the playoffs if it keeps up. If we’re still 32nd after 10 games, a change at DC wouldn’t hurt.

          • jafabian

            No offense but yes it would. At this point it would undermine the players who are putting 110% out on the turf right now. You’d run the risk of having the team go into a tailspin. Has there ever been a team that has changed their OC or DC while undefeated? The Hawks have had opportunity to bring back Gus Bradley and Kris Richard during Norton’s tenure and haven’t. That shows that they believe in him and what he’s doing. This team is no longer built on its defense.

          • Chris Alexander

            And circumstances.

            Seattle’s defense is currently #32 overall (in yards per game) because teams are throwing the ball A LOT when facing Seattle and, in most cases, more than they “normally” do.

            As an example, New England is the #2 rushing team in the league but 47 of their 70 offensive plays against Seattle were called passes (67.1%). Against the Chiefs, they had almost a 50/50 split (39 pass plays, 35 rushes).

            Against the run, even after giving up 201 yards to the Vikings (on 41 rushes), Seattle is ranked #7 overall.

            It’s also worth noting that Pete Carroll takes the yards with a grain of salt as the only stat he really cares about is the score. Seattle currently ranks #20 in points allowed at 27.0 per game, but also ranks #2 in points scored at 33.8 per contest. And their +6.8 margin currently ranks #7 in the league, coming in behind only the Ravens (+14.6), the Packers (+12.75), the Rams (+9.2), the Chiefs (+7.8), the Steelers (+7.75), and the Colts (+7.6).

            It’s still early, the Seahawks are currently 5-0, and under Pete Carroll, they almost always get better as the season progresses. Personally, I have confidence that they’ll be alright.

    • art thiel

      It’s not coaching. It’s talent.

  • Will Ganschow

    Last series, I’m thinkin’ to myself, ” Nothing is guaranteed but I’ll be more surprised it they don’t make than if they do.” The only other time I’ve been so certain about the team I’m rooting for was the “84 Bears. Too early to call it a career year but it has all that potential.

    • art thiel

      Not sure about certainty with any team in a league so vulnerable to covid, and so readily willing to change its emphasis on penalty enforcement. Defenses have largely rendered inert.

  • Chris Alexander

    Another wonderful article from the man who is definitely my favorite Seattle area writer (in like forever). But, I have one tiny quibble with this particular line:

    “. . . yet they are three late-moment defensive plays from being 2-3 . . .”

    Against Minnesota, had they not gotten the 4th and 1 stop, they would indeed have lost. 1 time out, a Minnesota 1st down inside the 5, and only 2:00 on the clock. Minnesota lines up in Victory formation and Cousins kneels down 3 times. Game over; Seahawks lose.

    Same with New England. The Patriots were down 5 with only 3 seconds to play and Cam was poised to do what he’d done each of the previous 18 times in his career that he’d called his own number from the 1-yard line – SCORE A TOUCHDOWN. If he gets in the end zone, it’s Game Over; Seahawks lose.

    Obviously my “quibble” isn’t with either of those games. I’ll pause here for a moment though and say that I never doubted the team in either situation (okay, maybe a little) and I am incredibly proud (as a fan) to see the team make the plays they have to make in the most critical situations.

    On a related, but personal note, my girlfriend and I spent roughly an hour this morning talking about how “adversity leads to growth” and I kept wanting to use Seahawks-related examples during our discussion (but I didn’t because she doesn’t follow sports). People joke about how it seems like Pete deliberately puts his team in these types of situations to encourage them to grow through the adversity. And it’s true that a team that is “tested” week in and week out is going to be better equipped to deal with adversity than a team that routinely wins by 3+ scores (I’m looking at you, Baltimore Ravens; 14-2 last year and then beaten in their first playoff game; basically untested this season but DESTROYED by Kansas City). We fans would sure appreciate a few blowouts from time to time, but these tight games are probably GOOD for the Seahawks.

    Back to my quibble . . .

    Seattle HAD THE LEAD in the Dallas game. And, yes, the defense got the stop they had to get. But Dallas was down 7 at the time and wouldn’t have handed Seattle a loss just by scoring – not unless they got the touchdown and decided to go for the win with a 2-point try, rather than kicking the extra point and forcing overtime.

    Might Dallas have scored and gone for 2? Sure. Might the game have gone to overtime and seen Dallas prevail? Sure. But neither result was certain.

    Against Minnesota (on 4th and 1) and against New England (on 1st and goal with 0:03 remaining), failure to get the stop results in A CERTAIN LOSS. Against Dallas, failure to make the stop may have still led to a win.

  • Chris Alexander

    Seattle has undoubtedly set themselves up for a solid season and a possible, arguably probable, NFC West title. As Art points out, it’s hard to explain how but impossible to ignore that Seattle is 5-0.

    The Seahawks should get healthy over the bye week which is good since they face their toughest stretch of the season immediately after the break with 4 of their next 5 games against division foes with a game against the Buffalo Bills mixed in for good measure.

    The rest of this is TL;DR (just one fan’s random thoughts on upcoming games and the competition Seattle will face).

    ____________________

    Week 7: AT Arizona
    Currently 3-2 with wins against the Niners, the TBDs (aka WFT), and the Jets; with losses to the Lions and Panthers. The teams they’ve beaten are currently a combined 3-12 while the teams they’ve lost to are a combined 4-5 (and Detroit’s only win was against Arizona). Add it all up and their 5 opponents are a combined 7-17 which, coincidentally, is the same record as Seattle’s 5 opponents currently combine for.

    Offensively, based on yards per game, Arizona ranks #11 overall (1 spot behind Seattle) with the #6 rushing attack and the #16 passing attack. Defensively, the rank #19 against the run, #5 against the pass, and #10 overall. On the scoreboard, Arizona is currently +5.2 per game, averaging 25.6 points per game on offense while yielding 20.4 on defense.

    Frankly, of all the teams remaining on our schedule, Arizona scares me the most. The Bills might be a tougher matchup (on paper) but division games are almost always brutal and Arizona ain’t no joke.

    Week 8: Home against San Francisco
    This looked like one of the season’s toughest games at the start of the season but not anymore. Injuries and subpar play have doomed the Niners in 2020. They’re currently 2-3 but even that is misleading as their 2 wins were over “the New Jersey teams” – phrased that way because New Yorkers don’t associate themselves with losers and both the Jets and Giants are currently 0-5. San Francisco’s losses are to the 3-2 Cardinals (by 4, in Week 1), the 1-3-1 Eagles (by 5), and the 2-3 Dolphins who absolutely embarrassed them this past Sunday, 43-17.

    Still, it’s a division game and arguably Seattle’s most “hated” rival. San Francisco scores an average of 24.8 points per game while giving up an average of 22.8. Defensively, they’re currently #11 against the run, #3 against the pass, and #5 overall. On offense, they currently rank #20 passing, #10 rushing, and #21 overall.

    Note: The Niners’ games the next 2 weeks are against the Rams and AT New England. They won’t be favored in either game and, were I betting man, my money would be on them coming to Seattle sporting a 2-5 record (and leaving with a 2-6 mark at the halfway point of their season).

    Week 9: AT Buffalo
    Currently 4-0, heading into their Tuesday night game at Tennessee. Their opponents thus far are a combined 9-11. They beat the Jets (0-5) by 10 in Week 1; beat the Dolphins (2-3) by 3 in Week 2; beat the Rams (4-1) by 3 in Week 3; and beat the Raiders (3-2) in Week 4.

    Offensively, Buffalo currently has the #3 offense in the league, pairing the #2 passing offense with the #28 rushing attack. Buffalo is currently scoring 30.8 points per game, good for the #5 ranking. Defensively, they rank #8 against the run, #29 against the pass, and #19 overall; and give up 25.0 points per game.

    Assuming both teams stay on their current trajectories, this game could be HUGELY ENTERTAINING – particularly if Josh Allen is still considered one of the Top 3 or 4 MVP candidates (behind RW3, the clear #1, of course). But it’s a non-conference game so it may not have much impact overall in terms of the “success” of Seattle’s season.

    Week 10: AT the L.A. Rams
    Currently 4-1, but (and it’s a mighty big BUT) . . . their 4 wins are against the dumpster fire that is the NFC East (currently a combined 4-15-1) and their loss was to the Bills (by 3). Record-wise, it’s hard not to be skeptical and wonder if the Rams are “really” a challenger for the NFC West crown. And, interestingly, we might not have a much better read on them by the time they roll into Seattle. This week they play the injury-depleted 49ers. Next week they face the Chicago Bears (currently 4-1). The week after that they face the Dolphins in Miami. Then they have their bye.

    My money is on them coming to Seattle with a 6-2 record after beating San Francisco and Miami but losing to the Bears. If I’m right, they’d still be a mystery, having beaten the teams they should beat and having lost to the teams that sported better records. And . . . they’ll be coming to Seattle having had an extra week to prepare (and to rest).

    Statistically, the Rams currently have the #5 offense, ranking #13 passing and #7 rushing. On defense, they’re #4 overall – #2 against the pass and #10 against the run. They score an average of 27.2 points a game (#12 in the league) while only giving up 18 points a game (#3 overall).

    Earlier I said that “of all the teams remaining on our schedule, Arizona scares me the most.” Looking at the statistics, one might think that I overlooked the Rams, who are clearly the BEST team we’ll face this year – from a statistical standpoint. But they just don’t scare me – even though they always give Seattle fits and are a division foe. Their record – and their statistical rankings – are built on the good fortune of them having played 4 of their first 5 games against the NFC Least. And they did not look good in 2 of those 4 games, both of which were at home (20-17 over the Cowboys and 17-9 over the Giants).

    If they beat the Bears Week 7 then I may reconsider my position, but even with a 4-1 record, I don’t think the Bears are all that great, so maybe not. Right now the Rams strike me as a team that goes 6-5, at best, over their last 11 games, and could possible finish 3-8 over the rest of the season.

    Aside from the fact that L.A. has only faced one “good” team so far, there’s the fact that the scheduling gods who have smiled upon them thus far are about to punish them the rest of the way. Compared to Seattle, the Rams’ remaining schedule is downright brutal with 2 games against each of their division rivals (I think they’ll go 2-4 in those 6 games, maybe 1-5), the Chicago game in 2 weeks, a 10am game against the Dolphins the week after that, another trip to Florida for a night game against the Bucs the week after they play Seattle, and back to back matchups against the Patriots and Jets in Weeks 14 & 15. The New England game could be particularly brutal as it is a Thursday night game and comes only 4 days after they face Arizona on the road.

    Week 11: Home against Arizona
    (see Week 7 notes)

    Right now, the 4 teams we face over the next 5 games are a combined 13-6; 16-8 if we count Arizona twice. The 4 games after that though . . .

    Week 12: AT Philadelphia (currently 1-3-1)
    Week 13: Home against the Giants (currently 0-5)
    Week 14: Home against the Jets (currently 0-5)
    Week 15: AT Washington (currently 1-4)

    Looking at their schedules, the Giants and Jets could easily come to Seattle still searching for their first win.

    Of the two, the Giants are more likely to win a game (or 2) before they face the Seahawks, but mostly because 4 of their 6 games between now and then are against Washington and Philadelphia. They also play the Bengals (in Cincinnati) the week before heading to Seattle.

    The Jets have their best chance to notch a win in Weeks 6 and 12, both of which are matchups with the Dolphins. In between the home-and-home games, they face the Bills (in New Jersey), travel to Kansas City, play the Patriots (in Jersey), and travel to L.A. to face the Chargers. The week before they come to Seattle, they face the Raiders (in Jersey).

    Washington might be the toughest of those 4 games. Aside from the fact that it’s an east coast game with a 10am kickoff, the 1-4 Washington FT’ers are currently only a game out of 1st place in their division (which is really, really sad; but also sort of hilarious). Between now and when Seattle faces them, Washington plays the 2-3, division-leading but Prescott-less Cowboys twice, the winless Giants twice. Outside of their division matchups, they have a home game against the 1-3-1 Bengals, and road games against the 1-4 Lions, the 2-3 Niners, and the 4-0 Steelers.

    Honestly, if they decide to get behind Alex Smith as their QB1, given their schedule, they could be 8-5 when they face Seattle. At worst, I think they’ll be 6-7 and in first place in the NFC East.

    The Eagles on the other hand . . . are a mess. Deciding to punt and settling for a tie in overtime against the Bengals was mindboggling to say the least. And their only W this season was a 5-point win against the depleted 49ers in Week 4. This week they face the Ravens (who should slaughter them). They follow that with home games against the Giants and Cowboys and road games against the Giants and Browns. Even if they beat their division foes, I don’t see them beating the Ravens or Browns. At best, they’re probably 4-5-1 when Seattle plays them. And maybe not even that. Washington beat them by 10 in Week 1 and even without Dak, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Cowboys beat them. An Eagles team with a 2-7-1 record hosting the Seahawks is certainly possible.

    And, sadly, it doesn’t get much better after Seattle leaves town. Their remaining schedule after hosting the Seahawks is AT Green Bay home against New Orleans, AT Arizona, AT Dallas, and home against Washington. After improbably leading their division last week with a 1-2-1 record, my money is on them finishing 3rd in the NFC East with a record of 4-11-1 or maybe 4-10-2.

  • Ed Walsh

    Same here, Art. Just open-jawed astonished. Sorry for all the East Coast reporters who had to do midnight rewrites. (Suspect you guys liked that part, though.)