The Seahawks Are Leading The NFC West For Now

The Seahawks can’t seem to win a normal, run-of-the-mill blowout game. I guess that’s okay as long as we keep winning, but …

Before the game, I called a score of 34-13, and for a brief moment there early in the fourth quarter, it was 34-17 and I thought I was a genius. Then, the Vikings almost immediately scored a touchdown to bring it to 34-24 and the comeback was officially on.

Things got tight in that fourth quarter and it started to look like one of those stupid games we used to lose in 2015 or 2016, where we’d get a seemingly-insurmountable lead and cough it up in some mindboggling way. After that breakdown in coverage gave the Vikings a 58-yard touchdown, our fumbling problem returned. When you’re talking about Seahawks and fumbles, you’re usually talking about Chris Carson, but he was great in this one. The second person you think of when you think about fumbles with this team, it’s not even that long of a pause: D.K. Metcalf. This game is actually a decent microcosm of his season: he’s had a lot of positives this year (6 catches for 75 yards, to lead the game), but just enough negatives (the lost fumble on a crucial 3rd down conversion that would’ve extended the drive and killed some more clock) to remind you that he’s a rookie. He’s a work in progress, it’s fine.

The Vikings proceeded to drive it 72 yards – aided considerably by a 3rd down pass interference penalty on Tre Flowers that was exclusively due to Kirk Cousins throwing a terrible, underthrown ball – but missed the extra point to make it 34-30. The Seahawks were once again limited in what time they could take off the clock, and the game hinged on the Vikings’ next drive.

They quickly got it out of the shadow of their own red zone, but the drive stalled at that point, ultimately turning it over on downs.

In spite of the score, the Seahawks’ defense was pretty solid. Sack numbers never tell the whole story, as it appeared the Seahawks were able to get consistent pressure on Cousins from a variety of players. Rasheem Green stood out in a big way, really proving his worth these last few games. He ended up forcing a fumble and generally being a presence in the backfield. Ziggy Ansah – before suffering a stinger that took him out – ended the game with 3 QB hits and a batted pass. Clowney returned from his injury to hit Cousins and get a tackle for loss. Jarran Reed also returned from injury and hit Cousins a couple times. All in all, 7 QB hits were recorded for the Seahawks.

The secondary – aside from a couple lapses – has started to come together. McDougald and Diggs continue to prove they’re the best safeties on this roster. Tre Flowers had a BEAUTIFUL interception on a pass intended for Stefon Diggs. And we saw a lot of tight coverage from the linebackers outside of that first Vikings TD drive.

The first half was a little frustrating, but the Seahawks did what they always do: they kept it close. Then, for a change of pace, we came out on fire after halftime, scoring 17 in the third quarter and going on a 24-0 run overall in the second half.

The Vikings’ defense was absolutely baffling to me. I kept looking at what they were doing pre-snap and it didn’t make any sense. They came into the game – I want to say – top 5 in rush defense, but they consistently loaded the box with anywhere from 5-7 guys, like they were daring us to ram it down their throats. Or, at least believing that just their front four would frustrate us enough into throwing more. Hell, on that huge 25-yard run by Carson early in the third quarter, they had a 7-man box against Seattle’s 7-man front; do the math! That’s a hat on a hat with a free Carson chugging towards the endzone!

It was like this all night! I usually finding myself calling out for more passing when I see our offense, but this was one of those rare games where I was begging Wilson to check to more run plays! Carson led the way with 102 yards on 23 carries, but Penny wasn’t far behind with 74 yards on 15 carries. The team totalled 218 yards on the ground on a 5.1 yard average with 2 TDs.

A good chunk of that came on the fake punt in the fourth quarter by Travis Homer (on that same drive that ended in a Metcalf fumble). With the way we were running all night, I kept expecting one of those patented Seahawks clock-churning drives to gobble up all the wind from their sails. That fake punt was a thing of beauty to keep the dream alive for a wee bit longer. From one conservative head coach to another, there was no way Mike Zimmer was expecting that from Pete Carroll in that situation, not with our 10-point lead and Carroll’s devotion to his defense! Yet, there it was, and it came at the best time possible. It’s just too bad we couldn’t finish the job right there.

Unfortunately, this wasn’t the game that would vault Wilson back into the MVP conversation. He’s still a very large distance behind Lamar Jackson, and 240 yards and 2 TDs (against 1 fluke INT following two batted passes) isn’t going to cut the mustard. If anything, he’s continuing to let other contenders reach his level, which can’t be good. He’s sitting at a 26:4 TD:INT ratio and a 111.1 passer rating; Jackson is at 25:5 with a 109.6 (plus another 7 TDs on the ground and almost 1,000 rushing yards, which is insane). Luckily, Wilson just cares about winning (not that Jackson doesn’t), and that’s all the Seahawks have been doing of late.

It feels great to finally get over that 49ers hump. With four weeks left in the season, let’s see how long that lasts!

The Monday Night Seahawks Are Playing For First Place Tonight

So, apparently the Seahawks hosted the Vikings on Monday night in December of 2018 as well, and I have somehow TOTALLY blocked it out of my memory. We won 21-7 and I absolutely couldn’t tell you a thing about it.

You know what’s burned into my memory, though? 2017, home against the Kirk Cousins-led Washington Redskins. The Seahawks were 5-2 heading into what was supposed to be an easy walk-over. After some early-season struggles, we were on the right track and looking to maybe go on a nice little run for the division. Instead, we lost to a 3-4 team that was banged up beyond belief, made all the more traumatizing by the fact that we led by 4 points with 94 seconds to go in the game and we gave up a 35-second touchdown drive to Cousins & Co.

We all learned a lot from that game. We learned that the Seahawks’ championship window was closed for the previous (L.O.B.) era, and that the 2017 squad was pretty mediocre (we would go on to finish 9-7 and outside the playoffs for the first time since Russell Wilson entered the league). We learned that Kirk Cousins wasn’t as terrible as we had originally thought, and that he could lead a team into any stadium and come away victorious if everything broke right. We learned that the Seattle crowd wasn’t as impactful as it used to be, and that we were probably still living off of our 2012/2013 reputaton. Most importantly, we learned this team isn’t infallible at home, and the trauma of this defeat has stuck with me to this very day.

This is the third year in a row we’ll see Kirk Cousins. No, I won’t take him lightly.

The more I look into it, the more things are starting to come back to me. While I don’t necessarily remember playing or beating the Vikings last year, I do remember they fired their offensive coordinator – John DeFilippo – right around this time, and indeed it was immediately following their loss in Seattle (where they scored 7 points, late in the fourth quarter). The Vikings immediately implemented a run-heavy approach to their offense and went 2-1 the rest of the way.

That’s carried over into this year, where the Vikings – to the surprise of no one – are 8-3 and in the thick of things for the NFC North. Regardless, they should find themselves in the postseason this year, and it makes sense. They’ve got a rock-solid defense (better up front as opposed to their secondary) so all you need to do is be careful with the ball on offense and you should win more than you lose.

That’s been the Seahawks Way for years, and if there’s a head coach who’s emulated Pete Carroll’s style from day one, it’s Mike Zimmer.

The teams that give the Seahawks fits are the teams who play the most like the Seahawks. The wildcard in all of this is actually Kirk Cousins, who – while I won’t take him lightly – is the one most likely to give the game away with crazy turnovers. I haven’t seen him do that a whole lot against the Seahawks, per se, but I’ve seen him look bad in primetime games enough to know he’s got a reputation as someone who doesn’t always show up in front of a national audience.

Whereas, the Seahawks almost ALWAYS show up in primetime. It’s kind of our thing. You remember, we’re the team who has the best winning percentage on Monday Night Football. Giving us two MNF games in 2019 is like gifting us two free wins at the start of the season!

And, in case anyone thought the fanbase was getting jaded (I’ve been more critical of the home crowd in recent years than anyone), we’re coming off of a weekend where the 49ers just got their second loss, which means that a Seahawks victory puts us in the driver’s seat for the division AND in the second seed in the NFC with four more games to go.

Winning tonight would be so huge. We’ve got to stay within a game of the 49ers, as it looks like whatever happens, our showdown in Week 17 is going to decide the division. Even if the 49ers lose to the Saints next week, they host the Falcons and Rams the next two weeks, and should easily win both of those games. Meaning, we could be perfect the rest of the way – coming into the final week with a 1-game advantage – and STILL not have the division locked up!

Even beyond that, though, it’s going to take everything we have to keep up with not just the 49ers, but the Saints and Packers as well. My obsession is a first round BYE at this point (also, not for nothing, but actually being the 2-seed is probably better than the 1-seed, as the 1-seed will most likely have to face the 49ers in the Divisional Round if the Seahawks were to do everything right).

Anyway, getting back to tonight, while I’m taking nothing lightly, I think this game could actually be sort of a cakewalk for the Seahawks. I know we haven’t really seen any of those this year, but again we’re talking about December. We’re talking about the time of year where the Seahawks start to kick it into high gear. We’re coming off of two games in a row where the defense has looked good, and if that trend continues, I see no reason why we shouldn’t put up some serious points against a weak Vikings secondary. I’d also hope for a nice bounce-back game from Chris Carson.

Something in the realm of 34-13 for the good guys.