When Russell Wilson was asked last weekend about the team's struggles on offense following a Week 13 loss, the Seahawks quarterback not only expressed confidence that the offense would turn things around, he also noted how good the Seattle's defense was playing, pointing to what that could mean for the team going forward.
"The truth is that when we play both sides of the ball—really all three sides of the ball—when we play both sides of the ball all together, offense and defense in particular, it's going to be a great thing. It's going to be a magical thing," Wilson said.
A week later, the Seahawks did what Wilson was talking about, putting together their most complete performance of the year, and the result was a blowout 40-3 victory over the winless New York Jets.
Yes, the Jets have been struggling all season, hence the 0-13 record, but the Seahawks responded to last week's loss by doing what good teams should do against a struggling team, particularly at home—they took control early, extended the lead and never took their foot off the gas until it was time to put the reserves in late in the third quarter.
"This is a real complete win for us today," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "Across the board, all phases worked well. Everybody got to play. It was really fun to see our guys get a chance to get out there and get some real play time. A real solid performance across the board, in all areas. Third downs were good, red zone was good. You saw another day with the defense coming out here—it's getting going now. It's pretty clear that we've made a big turn. That was a dominating day today. Those guys put yards and stuff on everybody, and we just didn't let them today. A big day by Russ; Russ was on it, completed everything, and four big touchdowns, and we got him out of there in the fourth quarter, which is great. That's rare. Just think about the few times we've ever done that, but it was good that Geno (Smith) got a chance to get on the field."
After a bit of a mini slump that included scoring only one touchdown last week, the Seahawks and Wilson got back on track Sunday, looking more like the team that led the NFL in scoring for much of the season. Wilson threw four touchdown passes to four different receivers, giving him 36 for the season, breaking his own franchise record. The Seahawks also ran the ball well with 174 yards on the ground, were five-for-six in the red zone, coming up short only in the fourth quarter with the starters out of the game, had 28 first downs, and scored on six of eight offensive possessions while the starters were in the game.
But if the offense was back to its old self, what made this performance different than games from earlier this year is that the defense was equally dominant, if not more so. Yes, the Jets have struggled this year, but they've also put up decent numbers of late, scoring 27 or more points in three of their last four losses. On Sunday, however, the Seahawks held the Jets to a lone field goal—the first time an opponent hasn't found the end zone against Seattle this year—they had 12 points, 185 total yards, and averaged 3.6 yards per play, all season-lows for Seahawks opponents.
"To go back to the defensive side, there are a lot of guys that are really playing like crazy together, and you can see it happening, just throw the weeks together," Carroll said. "A few sacks again today, good pass defense, really should have had four turnovers today, we really had the ball in our hands. I'm just really fired up that at this time of year, we're playing our best football. It's going to make a difference. If we're going to have a chance to do something special this year, it's going to be because the defense has really turned it around and put us in this kind of position. We know that we can score points, we know we can do that on offense, but to put this together like this is really big to us, so pleased to get that done."
After giving up points and yards at a historic pace early in the season, the Seahawks defense has started to find its way in the second half of the season, particularly since the second half of a Week 10 loss to the Rams. Dating back to that game, the Seahawks are allowing 16.2 points per game, including three straight games allowing 17 or fewer points.
"Throughout the whole year, we knew that we had talent," said safety Jamal Adams, who made a bit of history with his sack Sunday. "And we knew that, we just needed to put it together. We had to communicate, we had to execute as a team, as a unit I should say. We knew that once we did that, we could be special, and we're only getting better. As long as we continue to practice our tails off and continue to listen to coaching, continue to feed off of one another, bring the energy, bring the juice, play with confidence, play with swagger, we can be really, really special. And I think we're hitting our stride at the right time."
Linebacker K.J. Wright, who had six tackles, including two tackles for a loss on one possession, played on, along with Bobby Wagner, Seahawks defenses that will go down in history as some of the best of all time, so it has been hard for him to see the defense struggle early in the year. Now, however, he sees Seattle's defense getting back to what it should be.
"It was rough in the beginning," Wright said. "It was rough. We all felt it and we got it corrected. Hat's off to Coach Carroll for his leadership in addressing it, and Coach Norton addressing things and just putting us in position to be successful. So we figured it out, and know that we've got to to eliminate these explosive plays, put the ball down in the middle to where we can just force everything and rally and tackle. We got back to Seahawks football. When bad things happen, we have great leadership in this building to where we get things figured out, and we've got to keep it going."
If a game this lopsided felt rare, that's because they are in the NFL, even when good teams play struggling ones. In fact, the 37-point margin of victory was Seattle's largest since a 58-0 win over the Cardinals in 2012, so it's not a surprise that Wilson said after the game that this performance felt like that run late in his rookie season when the Seahawks strung together blowout wins over Arizona, Buffalo and San Francisco.
"It felt kind of like, I go back to 2012, that moment where the offense and defense were really married up together," Wilson said. "I think we went to Buffalo and then we came back home maybe against Arizona or something like that.
"We just felt like we were all together, and there were so many other plays that we could've had we felt like on both sides. We stayed the course, we were ready, we were prepared, we took on the challenge, kept our heads down and just stayed focused on what we needed to do and executed, and was it a great day today."
And yes, blowing out a winless team won't mean much if the Seahawks can't back it up by playing well against better opponents, but getting the job done Sunday in such dominant fashion was a good step in the right direction for a team looking to bounce back from a tough loss.
"Obviously, they're struggling," Carroll said. "The statement that you make there; if you respect the process that you go through and you focus and you do your work, it doesn't matter who you play, and we've talked like that all the time, if you play a team that's struggling, you should beat them handily. We were able to do that today, and that's a statement about everybody being connected, everybody tuned in. I'm really pleased to get that done. Will we do it again? I don't know, we'll see. We're playing good defense, though, and we're on it, and that gives us a chance."
The best photos from Seattle Seahawks vs. New York Jets at Lumen Field. Fueled by Nesquik.