For three-plus quarters, Sunday's performance for Geno Smith and the Seahawks was difficult to assess.
On one hand, the Seahawks were moving the ball well, resulting in three field goals and a touchdown through three quarters, and in another big positive, the offense didn't turn the ball over, a significant development for a team that had committed multiple turnovers in four straight games.
But on the other hand, the Seahawks were unable to put the game away against a feisty Washington Commanders squad in no small part because they weren't able to finish drives. There was the first-quarter drive that ended in a field goal after a delay of game penalty kept the Seahawks from going for it on fourth-and-1, and a second-quarter drive that also ended with a field goal because a false start penalty took the offense off the field on fourth-and-1. Then at the end of the half, the Seahawks had a chance to take the lead, but a holding penalty and intentional grounding penalty cost them a chance at points.
Coming off a game in which the Seahawks failed to find the end zone in a Week 9 loss to Baltimore, those offensive inconsistencies could have been the team's undoing on Sunday. Instead, Smith and the entire offense came through with two huge drives to lead the Seahawks to a 29-26 win over the Commanders that improved Seattle's record to 6-3.
"This was a really impressive finish for us in this game," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "… For us to finish like we did, I thought it was really impressive to see our offense finish scoring the last three times we had the ball. Geno did a fantastic job of leading us down the field, and the guys—Tyler and DK made the big plays in there with a couple cool runs by the young guys. I thought that was just a really impressive way to finish the game."
As Carroll pointed out, receivers Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf were Smith's go-to targets on the final two drives, with Lockett hauling in four catches, including the go-ahead touchdown, to give the Seahawks the lead late in the fourth quarter, and with Metcalf making the two big catches to put the Seahawks in range for Jason Myers' game-winning field goal after Washington tied the game with a touchdown drive of its own. Metcalf finished the game with seven receptions for 98 yards, including catches of 17 and 27 yards on the final drive, the last of which put Seattle in field goal range. Lockett, meanwhile, had eight catches for 92 yards and the touchdown.
"DK, he's such a special player," Smith said. "Anytime we get a chance to get him the ball, especially when the game is on the line, he continues to show up and show you exactly who he is. I believe he's one of the better receivers in the game. I felt like he played a tremendous game today, and we've got to keep that up. We've got to keep building on that."
On Lockett, Smith added, "He's a great player. He's a guy we depend on, and he comes through every single week."
Smith, meanwhile, was at his best late in the game leading those two drives, completing 9 of 11 passes—one of the incompletions being a spike to stop the clock—for 100 yards and a touchdown, giving him a career-high 369 yards in the game. It was the third time in Seattle's six wins this season that Smith has led a game-winning drive either at the end of regulation or in overtime, having also led a touchdown drive in overtime at Detroit, and a touchdown drive in the final minute of regulation for a win over Cleveland.
"I thought he was almost perfect, all but maybe once perfect," Carroll said of his quarterback. "The throws he had to come up with, the calls, the poise, the cadence, running the club, the whole thing. He was perfect. I thought he was just exactly what we would hope we can see in him. I'm sure he had great numbers today. Must have had terrific numbers. But more than that, he just came through, just like we're counting on."
As good as Smith was, however, Sunday's win was also an example of how the rest of the offense can make his life easier. With the Seahawks starting the same offensive line in consecutive games for the first time this season, Smith's protection was good, and in addition to Metcalf and Lockett coming through late, the Seahawks also got 127 yards of total offense out of Kenneth Walker III, including a 64-yard touchdown in the third quarter, 62 total yards out of Zach Charbonnet, and 53 receiving yards from rookie receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba.
"It was really a great illustration of everybody around him, because he had great play from everybody," Carroll said. "The catches and the catch-and-runs—DK had a marvelous day, Tyler starred on this day. And the running backs did great stuff. That's what we're talking about. He doesn't have to be the whole show. He needs to be the point guard and be in the middle of it, and he was exactly that today."
Yet even if it wasn't all on Smith on those final drives, as the quarterback he is still the player with the most responsibility on his shoulders, and was the case on occasions already this season, he was up to the challenge.
"You guys don't get a chance to see how poised he is, how calm he is," Carroll said. "We talked just before the last drive to say if we've got to go to overtime, we'll go to overtime. Let's make great decisions here. He was totally in tune with what we were talking about, and he just picked away and knocked us right down the field. But he really is poised, and he's really confident, and he's clear as a bell to talk to. There's no distraction in him at all. That's why he was available for that moment, and he came through."
On the sideline, Smith's teammates on defense had the utmost confidence that their work was done for the day, despite Carroll being OK with the possibility of overtime.
"Obviously everybody's going to put the heat on Geno because he's the quarterback," safety Jamal Adams said. "He just rose to the challenge like he always done. He came out, he had it on his mind, he knew he was going to go out there and punch it in. The chemistry those guys have in two minutes, it's special. Any time they get the ball, we know we have a chance."
And not surprisingly, Smith was never thinking overtime even if his head coach told him that was an acceptable outcome going into that final drive.
"Not at all," Smith said. "I think that was coach's way of reminding me not to do nothing crazy with the football right there. When we're in that situation, we're right at home. We practice that every single day in the Virginia Mason Athletic Center. We knew exactly how much time we had, how many timeouts, just about everything that we needed to do, we knew what to do, and like I said, I feel like Shane called a great game down the stretch. DK made some tremendous plays, just being exactly who he is, and how about J-My (Jason Myers), just going in there and finishing the game off, really doing what he did, making five field goals. We needed every one of them."
In addition to being a big moment for Smith and Seattle's offense, Sunday's game was also just an important one for a team that needed to bounce back following one of the most lopsided losses of the Pete Carroll/John Schneider era in Seattle. The Seahawks have always been a team that responds well to losses, and they really needed a bounce-back win after last week's loss in Baltimore.
"Just to come out here and keep playing ball all the way through the fourth quarter, this shows the kind of guys that we have in our locker room," said tight end Will Dissly. "Especially coming off the game that we had previously. Just a credit to our guys for winning all four quarters."
Said Bobby Wagner, who had a team-high 10 tackles, half a sack and two passes defensed, "Last week, it didn't turn out how we wanted to, but we were able to come out and, through all of the things that happened, we still got a win."
Check out some of the best action shots from Week 10 vs. the Commanders at Lumen Field on November 12, 2023. Game action photos are presented by Washington's Lottery.