The Seahawks kept their playoff hopes alive with a 23-6 win over the Jets on Sunday, a victory that saw Geno Smith improve to 3-0 against his former teams this season.
While Smith was efficient, throwing a pair of touchdown passes without a turnover, it was Seattle's defense that led the way as the Seahawks improved to 8-8 to stay in the hunt for an NFC wild card berth.
For the Seahawks to make the playoffs, they'll need to beat the Rams at home next week while also getting some help from the Lions, who would need to beat Green Bay or tie the Packers for the Seahawks to get in.
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Here are five rapid reactions to Sunday's win at Lumen Field:
1. An improving Seahawks defense played one of its best games of the year.
The Seahawks have shown signs of improvement on defense of late despite losses to the 49ers and Chiefs, and on Sunday that unit continued trending in the right direction, putting up a dominant effort.
Quandre Diggs set the tone with an interception on New York's opening possession, his third of the season, which made him the only player in the NFL with three or more interceptions in each of the past six seasons. The Seahawks, who had gone three straight games without a takeaway, added two more on a Darrell Taylor strip sack and a Michael Jackson interception, and they held the Jets out of the end zone all afternoon long, with New York managing just a pair of field goals.
The Seahawks held the Jets to 279 total yards—Seattle's second straight game keeping a team under 300 yards—and limited the Jets to a 4 for 13 conversion rate on third down, and an 0 for 2 rate on fourth down.
2. With Will Dissly out, his fellow tight ends stepped up.
The Seahawks place tight end Will Dissly on injured reserve this week, the result of a knee injury suffered in last week's loss to the Chiefs, and while his absence is a significant one for Seattle's offense, the rest of the tight end group stepped up in a big way.
Colby Parkinson got things started with a 12-yard touchdown on Seattle's opening possession, then on Seattle's next possession, a 29-yard catch by Noah Fant helped set up a field goal. Then in the second quarter, Tyler Mabry, who was elevated off the practice squad on Saturday, added a 7-yard touchdown reception, which was not only the first career touchdown for the former undrafted free agent who has spent most of his three seasons on Seattle's practice squad, it was his first career catch.
On a day when a tough Jets secondary kept Seattle's receivers from getting a lot going, the tight ends combined to catch eight passes for 83 yards and two touchdowns.
3. The offense got off to a much better start, and finally had a turnover free game.
Slow starts were a problem for the Seahawks in recent losses, including last week's game in Kansas City in which the Seahawks had just one first down on their first five possessions before putting together a field goal drive at the end of the half. A week earlier against the 49ers, the Seahawks went four possessions with a single first down before again getting a field goal late in the second quarter.
The Seahawks were facing a tough defense once again on Sunday, with the Jets ranking third in total defense and fourth in scoring defense, but that didn't prevent Seattle from jumping to an early lead to take control of the game. Kenneth Walker III got things going with a 60-yard run on the game's first play from scrimmage, and two plays after that Smith found Parkinson for a score.
After Quandre Diggs' interception gave the Seahawks the ball back with good field position, they added a field goal, then on their next drive they went 70 yards on seven plays, taking a 17-3 lead on a Smith-to-Mabry touchdown pass.
The talented Jets defense did make things challenging for the Seahawks at times the rest of the way, but that fast start set the tone and set the table for the defense to take over the game.
And in what might be the best news of the day to Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, the Seahawks did not commit a turnover, their first turnover-free game this season.
4. Kenneth Walker III and DeeJay Dallas teamed up to provide a lot of offense.
As mentioned earlier, Walker got things started for the Seahawks with a 60-yard run the first time he touched the ball, a run that set him up for his fourth 100-yard game this season. Walker finished with 133 yards on 23 carries, his second highest total behind his 167-yard effort in a win over the Chargers.
But while Walker led the way on the ground, he was hardly the only Seahawks running back to make big contributions on offense. DeeJay Dallas ran well in relief of Walker, rushing for 43 yards on seven carries, but he made even bigger contributions as a pass catcher, gaining a team-high 55 receiving yards on three catches.
In all, that duo combined to gain 240 of Seattle's 346 total yards.
5. Darrell Taylor is finishing the season strong.
Darrell Taylor's season didn't get off to the start he and the Seahawks were hoping for, with the outside linebacker recording only one sack in the first five games, but his play has steadily improved in the second half of the season, culminating Sunday in what might have been his best game this season.
Taylor had 2.5 sacks, one of which was also a forced fumble that was recovered by Uchenna Nwosu, he had another pressure that led to a third-down throwaway, and he also batted a ball down at the line of scrimmage for a pass defense.
Taylor is now up to 8.5 sacks this season, a career-high, including 5.5 in the past five games.
Also making big contributions to the pass rush was Quinton Jefferson, who also had 1.5 sacks, giving him a career-high 5.5 for the season.
Check out some of the best action shots from Week 17 vs. the New York Jets at Lumen Field on January 1, 2023. Game action photos are presented by Washington's Lottery.