PHILADELPHIA—When Seahawks defensive players started breaking down film of the Philadelphia Eagles offense on Tuesday, veteran linebacker K.J. Wright issued a challenge to his teammates.
"Zero touchdowns," Wright told his defense.
On Sunday afternoon, Wright and the rest of the Seahawks defense lived up to that lofty standard, keeping the Eagles out of the end zone the entire game in a 17-9 Seahawks victory in the wild-card round of the playoffs.
"I'm saying it again, I predicted this," said Wright, who earlier this season claimed to have dreamt about having a two-interception game before he did that against Carolina. "I predicted this. It was a vision I had. I knew this defense was capable of putting up that performance. We just did a great job of communicating, we tackled really well, we got off the field on third down. We put together a complete game today and it felt really good."
And when the game was over and the Seahawks had punched their ticket to the divisional round of the postseason for the seventh time in the past 10 seasons, you better believe that Seahawks coach Pete Carroll was fired up about that accomplishment.
Giving a postgame speech in the victorious visitor's locker room, Carroll shouted, "I've got to talk about something now, this is something just fires my ass up. How 'bout no freakin' touchdowns tonight!"
The team responded with a roar.
"They moved the ball pretty good at times, but we kept them out of the end zone, which was really key," Carroll said in his postgame press conference. "Without getting any turnovers, it was a challenge. Really fired up about the D. A bunch of sacks again here. Really great red zone defense, made a big difference."
This hasn't been the best season for Seattle's defense over the course of 16 regular season games. That unit played great at times, but there have been rough patches as well. But with the defense getting healthier, and yes, with the Eagles coming into the game with an injury-depleted offense, the Seahawks were able to play one of their best defensive games of the year, other than the fact that they didn't get a takeaway. In addition to keeping the Eagles out of the end zone, the Seahawks held the Eagles to just 282 total yards, a 3 for 11 conversion rate on third down, they recorded seven sacks, and most importantly, they got two fourth down stops late in the game with the Eagles trying to drive for the tying score.
"The numbers are going to say what they want to say, but I know the heart and soul of the guys in here, I know the potential that we have, and if we play like that—D-line get after it, the back end stay on top, we tackle really well—we can win the rest of these games," Wright said. "It's just one game at a time, we're capable of doing it."
Wright credited secondary coach Nick Sorensen with having the defense so well prepared in the red zone, but as much as scheme played a factor, All-Pro middle linebacker Bobby Wagner said the mentality of the defense was equally important.
"We understand how important it is, even if they get down there, to not let them get touchdowns," Wagner said. "So we kind of just made our minds up and said to ourselves, 'we're not going to let them score.' It was more of a mental thing than execution."
The Seahawks have been without several key players for stretches of the season, particularly late in the year with Jadeveon Clowney and Quandre Diggs missing multiple games. Those two were both in action Sunday, and both made an impact, particularly Clowney who had five tackles, two tackles for loss and the final sack on fourth down that helped clinch the win. And with the defense relatively healthy and playing the way it did Sunday, the Seahawks will head to Green Bay confident in what they can accomplish on that side of the ball.
"I think it's just our resiliency," Wagner said. "There's been a lot of ups and downs throughout the season, a lot of good and bad, but we live in the moment, we appreciate the moment and we focus on the moment, so whatever happened last week or the week before, we don't let it affect us in the moment. We felt like we came out here and were able to execute in a hostile environment on the road, and we'll try to do it again next week."
Game action photos from the Seattle Seahawks' Wild Card matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles.