No one was feeling great about the way the Seahawks were playing after three consecutive losses, not players at coaches working hard to get things right at the VMAC, and not fans who are used to seeing their team win a lot more games than they win.
But Seattle's three-game losing streak—the team's first since the 2011 season—was hardly a sign that this year's Seahawks were a terrible team destined to finish with a losing record. Over their previous three games, the Seahawks had the ball with the chance at a game-winning drive against the Rams, Steelers and Saints, teams with a combined 16-6 record, but without Russell Wilson available, they fell just short each time.
What the Seahawks were able to do on Sunday, dominating the Jacksonville Jaguars in a 31-7 victory at Lumen Field, was a reminder that while the start to this season has not gone as planned, the Seahawks still have the talent and enough time to get back into the playoff race, particularly if Wilson is able to return soon.
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"We have a lot higher expectations than where we are right now," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "Being undefeated at bye is the way you should set your expectations, but we've been so close for so long, just one play from having it like that, you know."
With the bye week coming up, the Seahawks will hope to get Wilson back soon—he's eligible to return from injured reserve after the bye, though Carroll has not given a timeline for his quarterbacks' return—then perhaps get on a hot streak that gets them right back into the NFC playoff picture.
"Of course we don't like where we are," said safety Quandre Diggs, who had an interception, his team-leading third of the season, to lead another strong defensive performance. "We know we've got a lot of ground to catch up, but if you know anything about this team and organization, it's that we've always been really resilient. We've always hit a stretch where we've won five, six in a row and stack those wins, so it can be done. We know we can do it. I think last year having the same deal, we started off hot, 5-0, we lost a couple on the road, then we got back on track. I know we can do it and we've got the right people in this building and on this team, so we'll get it done."
A big reason for optimism going forward, in addition to the eventually return of Wilson, is the turnaround the defense has made since some early-season struggles against the Titans, Vikings, and in the second half at least, the Rams. Since that loss to the Rams, the Seahawks have given up only 43 total points in their past three games, holding all three opponents to 345 yards or fewer after giving up more than 450 yards in each of their previous four games.
"It's just the characters that we have in the building, the cast of guys that we have," Diggs said. "Our coaches, they always keep us even-keeled, never too high, never too low. We knew at some point we were going to lock in and figure out what was hurting us. I think we've kind of put that fire out with the routes that were hurting us. We're stopping the run game, we're getting pretty good at stopping the passing game, so for us, now it's just locking into the smaller things, different details, knowing route combinations, what's coming and things like that. So once we get there and we continue to improve, I think we're going to be rolling with something."
With the defensive improving, with Geno Smith playing a great game in relief of Wilson, and with Wilson expected back, possibly as soon as Seattle's next game, the Seahawks feel like the close losses that caused them to start with a 2-5 record can turn into a lot of wins in the second half of the season.
"I've been seeing it and feeling it for a month now, we just haven't been able to cash in and get it done," Carroll said. "We have so many good numbers that are supporting good play. Our penalties were down, we are taking care of the football, staying in the plus on the turnover stuff. Our kicking game is really solid, all of that. So it's hard to get all those—check out the DVOA numbers, they're way higher than you would think for the record we have, and that's because we're doing a lot of things well. It just hasn't, for whatever reason, translated into getting these wins in the close ball games. And honestly, I don't want to dwell on this one, but we've missed Russ, too, in this three-week span. He's a pretty good player."
Of course Carroll is being understated when he calls Wilson a "pretty good player," and everyone knows his return will be a big boost when it comes.
"I mean (shoot) you tell me," safety Jamal Adams said when asked what Wilson's return will mean. "Come on, man, 3 is 3. He's that guy."
And coming out of the bye, the Seahawks feel like they're a team ready to go on a run.
"This is one game. We're going to keep our head down, continue to grind and continue to get better," Adams said. "Obviously, we have a bye coming up, but this is a hell of a win. Great start… At the end of the day, we know how we are. We know exactly who we are as a team when we pull it all together, and we go out there and execute, we're a pretty good team."
The Seattle Seahawks take on the Jacksonville Jaguars in their eighth game of the 2021 season at Lumen Field. This album will be updated throughout the game. Game Action photos are presented by Washington Lottery.