The Seahawks didn't finish Sunday's victory over the Washington Football Team as strongly as they'd have like, seeing a 17-point lead eventually shrink to five in the fourth quarter, but in a lot of ways their 20-15 victory was exactly what they were looking for coming into the game.
For starters, the Seahawks got another strong performance out of their defense, which for the fourth straight game kept an opponent under 20 points, and which also had two takeaways. The Seahawks also played great on special teams once again, led by the play of punter Michael Dickson and kicker Jason Myers, who are both having Pro-Bowl caliber seasons.
And perhaps most significantly, the Seahawks like what they were able to do on Sunday to keep one of the NFL's best pass-rushes at bay, using a quick passing game and a strong rushing attack to neutralize a defense that came into the game with 40 sacks, the fourth most in the NFL.
No, Russell Wilson's numbers weren't great, and yes, the offense did slow down after scoring on four of its first five possessions, but going against one of the league's best defense, that unit did enough to get the job done without letting Washington's biggest strength, it's defensive front, make a big difference in the game.
"I'm sure you can see that we respected this opponent a great deal," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "We respected their pass rush, all the power of that defense up front and all. I thought (offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer) and the fellows on offense did a great job with the plan. Russell did a great job of carrying it out. We ran the ball for a bunch of yards. We found ways to do that. Keep the ball away from them, not get sacked. I'm just really thrilled about the way that worked. Obviously we need another touchdown drive in the second half to separate this thing, because we really felt in control of the game."
Wilson just missed connecting with Freddie Swain for a long touchdown—the rookie receiver was initially ruled to have scored, but replay showed he only got one foot in bounds—but other than that play, the Seahawks passing game focused on quick passes, meaning Wilson was 18 for 27 for only 121 yards and a touchdown, and no completions longer than 15 yards. But while those numbers aren't all that impressive, what is is the fact that Washington recorded no sacks and only three quarterback hits, marking the ninth time in Wilson's career, postseason included, that he hasn't been sacked in a game.
"They've got four No. 1 (picks) or whatever up there hauling ass at you, and they didn't get Russ," Carroll said. "That was awesome. That's how they have won games, like we did at the end of that game, this game today, you saw our pass rush today. That was big time. Well, that's how they been playing and that's why they won four in a row. That's why they're leading their division and all, and we didn't let them have it today. They did not have the pass rush today that they been having, and that attributed to the guys up front and the plan and Russell carrying out, but getting the ball out of his hands all day long."
So no, this wasn't Seattle's most prolific offensive performance by any means, and yes, the offense didn't get a lot done after scoring a touchdown to start the third quarter, but against this particular opposing defense, it was the game plan the Seahawks were looking for.
"You go ahead and be concerned, I'm not concerned at all," Carroll said when asked about the Seahawks' second-half offensive output. "We did exactly what we wanted to do. We didn't want them to be a factor in this game, and to give up some yards and the stats and all that stuff, I'm not worried about that at all. I don't know what Russ' numbers were—18 for 27. That's another Bart Starr type of game. Playing the football with our whole team, that worked out great today. It'll be different next time or the game after, but on this game against that team, we neutralized their strength and that's what we had to do to get it done. So I don't think there is anything that you can see in this that's negative. I don't see anything about it. You guys can look for it but, I just don't see that. This was the game we wanted to play. It's almost the score we thought it might be and all of that, that it was going to be really tight and a championship match, and that's what it felt like."
Of course, that kind of passing game only works if its complemented by a strong running game, and the Seahawks rushed for 181 yards on Sunday, their second highest total of the season. In addition to 64 yards on 15 carries from Chris Carson, the Seahawks got a 50-yard touchdown out of Carlos Hyde, and a 38-yard run by Russell Wilson that helped set up a second-half touchdown. The defense also did its part, aside from two Washington touchdown drives in the fourth quarter, holding Washington to just a field goal through the first three quarters, getting two takeaways, and coming up with three sacks in the game's final minutes, including consecutive sacks that set up a fourth-and-24 desperation pass the Seahawks were able to knock down to seal the victory. Special teams also did its part, particularly Michael Dickson, who pinned Washington inside the 20 with all four of his punts.
"This is a really sweet win for us for a number of reasons," Carroll said. "Coming across the country again, showing that we know how to do it again, I'm so proud of that. There is a really good chance if you win all the games, you've to go across the country sometime. Again, we know how to do it. I'm really proud of that for our club. The defense continues to play really, really good football. They played great all day long. We had a couple lapses in there when they got to dinking the ball around, and they did a nice job moving it; give them credit. But when we had to have it, finished the game off. Guys rallied and nailed three sacks in the last drive and changed the football game from taking away their chance to win… I just thought the whole team played together. Michael Dickson had a huge game today. We were playing field position all day long, and he did a great job keeping them deep and making their offense go the long haul. So I really like that football. You saw it was the same last week. Hoping we can keep carrying it out and play the complementary football that really gives a chance to be really hard to beat."
The best photos from Seattle Seahawks vs. Washington Football Team at FedExField. Fueled by Nesquik.