The Morning After: Seahawks play with their food, beat Washington 20-15
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You sit down for wonderful meal. The appetizers taste great. The wine is perfect. You move onto the main course and it is tasty as well. Finally, dessert is served. Imagine your favorite dessert placed in front of you. The anticipation of joy builds as you reach for your fork or spoon, and then the waiter pours a cup of salt on top of it. You look up, half-incredulous, half-crestfallen at what was about to be. This is the life of a Seahawks fan the past few seasons. There is a lot to be grateful for, some delectable highlights, and then just before you can savor the greatness of what was, bitterness enters the picture. Such was the case in the Seahawks playoff-clinching victory over the streaking Washington Football Team.
Seattle started this game with the clear intent to not allow the strength of the Washington team, their pass rush, play a large role in the outcome. There was ample use of the run game and hyper quick passing. That, combined with an active defense that smothered an overmatched Washington offense, was adding up to what looked like a convincing win against an opponent that recently beat the previously undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers.
Seattle led by a score of 13-3 at halftime, and 20-3 after three quarters. Washington has under 200 yards of offense, and the Seahawks were approaching 200 yards rushing. It was the kind of professional, mature, victory that you want to see as your team prepares for the playoff gauntlet.
Then, the fourth quarter happened. Russell Wilson missed a couple throws and had an unfortunate interception. Brian Schottenheimer stayed conservative in his playcalling. The defense suddenly was unable to stop Dwayne Haskins and the Washington offense.
What was headed toward a clinical victory nearly turned into a nauseating defeat. Washington got as close as the Seahawks 23-yard-line with just over a minute to go, and a very real chance to take the lead with very little time left on the clock.
Thankfully, Seattle got sacks from L.J. Collier and Carlos Dunlap to seal the win.
The aggravation of that fourth quarter will obscure the positives for many fans. I was definitely one of them yesterday. My son nearly left the room while we were watching. Not because of the game, but because of my glum mood.
“It’s no fun watching with you when you are acting like they have already lost.”
Sigh. This is my plight. I care too much about the Seahawks, and it has caused me to build up emotional calluses over the years. I sense when bad things are coming and retreat to a bunker where my soul is protected from the onslaught of terror headed my way.
It has allowed me to maintain this abusive relationship for all these years, but does come with the price of being a grump and missing out on some of the good.
The truth is I believe this team blew it’s best chance to win a Super Bowl when they lost to the Giants. Nothing can change that now. I also believe the state of the offense is a concern for anyone who wants this team to contend for another ring. Football is a game of probabilities, and the things the Seahawks needed to do in order to maximize their probabilities have not happened to this point in the season. It would be a shame, though, to spend the remainder of this season bemoaning what should have been instead of finding some joy in what is and may be.
I likely won’t be able to let go of my anger about the Giants game and frustration with this offense unless the Seahawks make it all the way to the Super Bowl. That will not keep me from savoring each game, including the one coming up this week for a chance to win the division.
Heck, the ultimate joy outside of a ring may even involve some travel. Imagine how great it would feel to watch Wilson and the Seahawks roll into Green Bay and wipe that smug look off Aaron Rodgers face on the way to the Super Bowl. Honestly, that would be more fun than winning at home, even if not as likely.
As disappointing as many aspects of the Seahawks offense have been and were again yesterday, there were some encouraging signs.
The running game looked very good. For the second time in two weeks, the Seahawks pushed around a top flight run defense. They had 174 yards on the ground last week and 181 this week. That can be a useful weapon when utilized correctly. It does not mean the team should abandon early down passing, but it does mean Seattle is showing more ways they can move the ball.
Rashaad Penny returned and had only two snaps, but I liked what I saw on his second carry. He looks fast.
Josh Gordon is due to return this week, and I’m irrationally excited about that given how bad David Moore has looked lately.
Nobody has been harder on Cedric Ogbuehi than I have. He was downright awful against the Eagles in his only start. Jamarco Jones going on IR was a potentially big deal given the status of Brandon Shell’s ankle. Ogbuehi, though, looked markedly improved in this game. I don’t know what his PFF score will be, but it would not surprise me to see it over 70, which denotes solid starter level of play.
Yes, the Seahawks were throwing quickly, but not every pass was quick and even in the quick sets, poor pass blocking would show up. Ogbuehi was getting beat instantaneously in Philly. That was not happening at all in this game.
The line looked up to the task of blocking what might be the best defensive line in football. That is a good sign. They will get another test this week against Aaron Donald and the Rams. Hopefully, Shell will return, but Ogbuehi gave some hope that they don’t need to completely abandon intermediate and deep throws when he is in the lineup.
Chris Carson looked as healthy as he has in a long time, and Carlos Hyde had another nice game.
Defensively, this was a game where the two cornerbacks looked terrific. Both had an interception and both played solid coverage through the day. D.J. Reed had his best game of the year. He was excellent all day and matched up well against Terry McLaurin.
Shaquill Griffin was solid and made a terrific catch on his pick, which was nice to see after all the drops last week.
I still expect Quinton Dunbar to get some snaps when he returns, but Reed is proving he could be a long-term member of this secondary, and that is a big deal.
Alton Robinson had a gorgeous sack. He continues to have a quietly strong rookie season. He has 3.0 sacks in limited snaps, and two have come in crunch time. Frank Clark had 3.5 sacks in his rookie year. Robinson is not necessarily looking like the next Frank Clark, but he is showing enough raw talent to be optimistic about his development next season.
Benson Mayowa had maybe his best game since Miami. He looked quicker and more active than I remember at any point this year. He even made some great plays in coverage.
The points the Seahawks defense gave up to Washington in the fourth quarter were frustrating. You look back at the whole game, though, and they only surrendered 15 points. That was the lowest point total for Washington in 10 weeks, and the second-lowest total of the season.
It was really the Seahawks offense that was most frustrating. They needed just one scoring drive in the fourth quarter or two in the second half to seal this game. They were not able to rise up when the situation demanded it. Wilson has to raise his level of play and Schottenheimer has to find ways to adapt in-game if this team is going to get where we all want them to go. That’s just the reality.
Few teams in the NFC are peaking right now. The Packers had an almost identical game to Seattle’s except at home against a Carolina team that had lost 6 of 7 and had no side of the ball as strong as Washington’s defense. The Packers managed something like 50 yards in the second half, and probably should have lost if the Panthers’ coach was not such a terrible game manager.
The Rams just lost to the winless Jets at home. The Saints have lost two straight, including dropping one to the Eagles. Tampa Bay needed a big comeback to beat the Falcons.
There is no dominant team in the NFC. Seattle has done a good job in getting their defense stabilized and in a position to contribute to a playoff run. The special teams has been spectacular. We notice the kickers a lot, but the total lack of penalties on returns has been amazing. The offense is the group that has regressed massively since the beginning of the year, and needs to prove it can score 25+ points against a great defense.
This week against the Rams would be a wonderful place to start. I’d like to order a skillet-baked chocolate chip cookie with two scoops of vanilla ice cream. Hold the salt, Seahawks.