From the first play from scrimmage, a 60-yard Kenneth Walker III run, to the game's last play, a Darrell Taylor sack, the Seahawks played just about their ideal style of football on Sunday.
The end result was a 23-6 victory over the New York Jets that improved the Seahawks' record to 8-8 and kept alive their hopes for a playoff berth.
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Other than coming up short in the red zone on a couple of occasions, Sunday's game was about everything Pete Carroll wants to see from his team. The Seahawks were balanced on offense, with Walker rushing for 133 yards; Geno Smith was efficient and took care of the football, throwing a pair of touchdowns without an interception; the defense didn't allow a touchdown and held the Jets to only 279 yards; special teams play was solid across the board; and perhaps most significantly, the Seahawks won the turnover battle 3-0, with Sunday marking the first time this season they have not committed a turnover in a game.
"We had a really good football day," Carroll said. "Across the board everybody played like we were hoping. We were able to play like the complementary football where we made the turnovers, had field position. We could have done better in the red zone, but did a lot of the positive things all day long. Offense did not turn the football over. Plus-three for the day. Huge, huge day for us in that regard. A lot of cool things happened.
"It fit together really well. Terrific for the defense to get through a day and no touchdowns; that's hard to do that in this league. Great to see those guys do that. Looks like we're making a little move. Played definitely better in some areas last week and came back and did it again this week. We got a big finish coming up. It was a real good day."
The Seahawks struggled to run the ball as they lost five of their last six games, but began to turn things around in the second half of last week's loss to the Chiefs. On Sunday, Walker and the ground game picked up right where they left off, with Walker's big opening run setting up a Smith-to-Colby Parkinson touchdown pass, while also setting the tone for the game. With Walker leading the way and with DeeJay Dallas adding 43 yards on seven carries, the Seahawks rushed for 198 yards, their highest total since a Week 7 win over the Chargers.
"It gave us a lot of momentum," Smith said of Walker's opening run. "It started us off. Started with the O-line. We talk about getting back in the run game, staying balanced. If you look at our game today, we played a complete football game. We played balanced football, passing, running the ball, defense playing well. Special teams playing well. That's our formula. That's what Coach Carroll talks about, you know, just complete team ball. I think that's what we got back to today, and we've just got to carry that on moving forward."
And while the offense set the tone early, scoring 17 points on its first three possessions, with Smith throwing touchdown passes to Parkinson and fellow tight end Tyler Mabry, it was the defense that finished the game off in style. After Quandre Diggs intercepted Mike White on the Jets' first possession, they responded with field goals on their next two drives, but after the Seahawks defense cleaned up a few issues with its run defense, the Jets didn't score again on their final nine possessions of the game.
"It feels amazing man," defensive end Quinton Jefferson, who had 1.5 sacks and three quarterback hits. "Today was win or go home, so we had nothing to lose. Guys were playing with their heads on fire, and we needed that. I feel like that was the first time that we played a complete game in all three phases. It came at the right time, and we have to use this as a building block and take it into next week because the Rams are going to give us everything we have. We just have to keep it rolling."
Playing from ahead, the Seahawks were able to get after White, and Darrell Taylor led the way with 2.5 sacks as well as a forced fumble that was recovered by Uchenna Nwosu. Taylor ended both the first half and the game with a sack.
"It was great, man," Carroll said of Taylor, who is up to 8.5 sacks this season, including 5.5 in the last five games. "He's really finding himself. He's still learning. He's still young at this position. He has such a great burst and runs the edge so well. That's what he needs to always feature in his approach, and that first, you better hang with him. Then there is a lot of counter stuff that happens from there, but he's well getting on the edge well and doing a great job. And really Q-Jeff, too. Had a sack and a half today and was close on a couple others. Ten (quarterback) hits today, which is big time for us, so it worked out well."
While the win kept the Seahawks' playoff hope alive, they will still need some help, in addition to a Week 18 win over the Rams, to earn a Wild-Card berth. For the Seahawks to advance, they would need a win as well as a Lions win over the Packer or a tie between those teams. It's not an ideal scenario, but it's still an accomplishment for the Seahawks that they're in contention in the final week of the season.
"As a team that's what you want, the chance to be in the big dance," Smith said. "Right now for us it's pretty much playoff football. We've got one game and you've got to win to get in. Once the playoffs come around, you've got to win to keep advancing. So it's good that we get to feel this right now. Good that these guys get to experience these things now, myself included. I think it's going to be very, very vital for us going forward."
Said defensive end Shelby Harris, "We have to go out there and handle our business next week. It sucks that we are in the position where we have to watch other people, and we did that to ourselves. At the end of the day, all we can do is go out there and win it next week and see where it goes."
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.