For good reason, there was a lot of focus late in the season on a Seahawks defense that, after being statistically one of the worst in football through eight games, gave up the fewest points in the NFL in the second half of the season. Turnarounds like that are rare in sports, and because of that people understandably wanted to talk about the job Pete Carroll, Ken Norton Jr. and the players did of fixing Seattle's defense.
But somewhat overlooked at the end of the season was what Seattle's offense accomplished over the course of the 2020 season, scoring the most points in franchise history (459), while several players hit noteworthy individual milestones, most notably Russell Wilson, who became only the 10th player in league history to throw 40 touchdown passes in a season, Tyler Lockett, who with 100 catches set a franchise single-season record, and DK Metcalf, who broke Steve Largent's single-season record for receiving yards with 1,303.
And it's fair to point out that a lot of that record-setting point total was built up early in the season, and that the offense has cooled off a bit, but the total body of work is still impressive. Yes, the offense wants to be better, and in particular more explosive, but the Seahawks have also faced a lot of really good defenses down the stretch, and will do so again on Saturday when they host Rams, who allowed the fewest points, yards and passing yards in the NFL this season. With the offense feeling like it's battle tested after wins over the Washington Football Team, the Rams and the 49ers, and with the offensive line getting healthy, the Seahawks like their chances of getting the offense going in the playoffs.
"I think we've had a very good year," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "We scored more points than any team in (franchise) history—we've had some pretty good offenses and some pretty good firepower, so it's a good accomplishment. Russ' 40 touchdowns, that's amazing to me, that's such a good number. It has been lost a little bit, but that's because we've been a bit quiet near the end of the year, and I can understand the scrutiny on that. We're really excited about our guys, we have a really healthy group—we're going to have our whole group upfront playing for the sixth time this year. We've done a lot of damage when those guys are on the field together, so hopefully that will add to everything that we're doing in this game. But I'm pretty excited about it. I think (offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer) has done a wonderful job of coordinating, adjusting using the people. We've got a couple 1,000-yard receivers, that's amazing stuff, so I'm happy with where we are."
Said Schottenheimer, "It's a special group, and they deserve all the accolades. I'm very, very proud of the group. Probably more proud of that than any of the individual accomplishments. Those are all great, but the fact that this unit did something that's never been done before by the Seahawks organization. It's pretty special. I know the guys are proud of it."
Carroll saying he's happy with where the Seahawks are shouldn't be confused for complacency. He wants to see the offense do more than it has in recent weeks, and see Wilson get back to making a few more of the big plays that had him being talked about as an MVP front-runner earlier this season, but he also is taking into account factors like the quality of recent opposing defenses, and the way the Seahawks have put more focus on taking care of the football against said quality defenses, particularly now that Seattle's defense is playing well enough to keep the Seahawks in a low-scoring game if the offense takes more time to get going, as has been the case over the past two games when the Seahawks have scored five touchdowns in second halves and none in first halves.
"We always want more," Carroll said. "We always want to do better and do more. We have played some games kind of the way we wanted to play them, and that wasn't to just try to stretch the field with the throwing game; we wanted to win the game and take care of the football and make sure we were in control of the rhythm of the game as a team, and I thought we got that done. But we would like to get our explosive plays back up, that's been a little bit different for us. We've got to look for our opportunities, but we don't want to force those. We want to take them as they come to us and make sure we're executing really well."
As Carroll referenced, one reason for optimism heading into the postseason is that the Seahawks will have all five of their starting offensive linemen available, something that's been a rarity this season. Sunday's game will mark only the sixth time this season the Seahawks have had their starting five of Duane Brown, Mike Iupati, Ethan Pocic, Damien Lewis and Brandon Shell available at the same time, and four of those games came in the first four weeks of the season.
"It's a great feeling," left tackle Duane Brown said. "We had a lot of injuries, a lot of shuffling along the line throughout the year. So to have our most important game of the season, to be at full strength, it's a great feeling. To have all the depth that we need, going into this game against a very, very tough defense, a very tough defensive front, it means everything for us."
Go behind the scenes from the Seattle Seahawks' Week 17 game vs. the San Francisco 49ers at State Farm Stadium in Arizona. Eye on the Hawks is presented by Western Washington Toyota Dealers.