For the first time since the end of the 2011 season, the Seahawks came into a weekend preparing to play a game with zero playoff implications.
After last week's loss against the Bears dropped Seattle's record to 5-10, the Seahawks were officially eliminated from the postseason, meaning the Seahawks would have to find some other sort of motivation when they hosted the Lions in their final home game of what has been a difficult 2021 season.
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And while one late-season win over a struggling Lions squad isn't going to take away all that went wrong this year, what Seattle's dominant 51-29 win did do is show that the Seahawks aren't a team that will mail it in down the stretch when there are not longer playoff berths or seeding to chase.
"That was a really complete ballgame across the board," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "Guys played really great. Really excited the way we came out. We made a big deal about these last two games—and this one in particular because this is the one we had—and I told the guys in the locker room, the way that they approached it, focus-wise, the juice that they brought in pregame in the locker room, it was really fun to watch."
"I'm really thrilled. Thrilled to see them respond like that. But mostly because they had so much fun today. They really had a great time today. They were really jacked about it."
As a 6-10 record indicates, the Seahawks have had a tough season on a lot of fronts after going 12-4 and winning the NFC West last year. Injuries to Russell Wilson and Chris Carson contributed to an inconsistent season on offense, and a team so accustomed to finding a way to win close games has gone 0-5 in games decided by 3 or fewer points, including a pair of overtime losses, but in the way they so thoroughly handled a struggling opponent on Sunday—Detroit came into the game with a 2-12-1 record—showed the Seahawks still have plenty of talent to be a good team when they play the way they're supposed to.
Whether it was Rashaad Penny putting up another huge game, this time with 170 yards and two touchdowns, or Russell Wilson connecting with so many weapons, including three touchdown passes to DK Metcalf and one to Tyler Lockett, or a defense that has struggled to get turnovers this season recording three interceptions in the second half, the Seahawks captured the formula that allowed them to post nine consecutive winning season and earn eight playoff berths from 2012 to 2020.
"This is what we're supposed to look like," Carroll said. "This is the way we're supposed to play. We're supposed to get the football off the opponent. And we're supposed to run the football and own the line of scrimmage so we can do all the things that our offense is structured to do, and play off our special teams. And special teams came through in a big way again. Good return from DeeJay (Dallas) and Freddie (Swain) had a good return got called back. Just a lot of positive stuff across the board."
For the Seahawks, this dominant win was the result of what Carroll said on Friday was a very impressive week of practice, one that didn't given any indications that the Seahawks were a team just going through the motions with two meaningless, from a playoff perspective, games remaining on the schedule.
"The standard of excellence, that's what we're searching for every day," said Wilson, whose 133.0 passer rating was his best since posting a 152.3 rating in the season-opener at Indianapolis. "And the thought process of players and the character of guys that we've had, we knew we weren't going to be able to just give up and give in. That's not going to be allowed. That's just not in our nature.
"Obviously, this season hasn't been what we wanted it to be. And I think it's been challenging so many different ways. But I think to be able to answer the call and to be able to come back at home, our last home game here, and to be able to play at such a high level was exciting for the fans. And our fans are the best fans in the world. Just to be able to do that for them, I think that was really special. And I thought -- guys want to play great. Guys want to do all the things they want to do and dream of and everything else. We're working at it every day. I thought this week of practice was—we've had some really great weeks—but I thought with everything going on, I think it was one of our best weeks we could possibly have. And that definitely showed up in so many different ways.
Added Penny, who has rushed for 135 or more yards in three of the last four games, "I think it shows that we really care about football… Us in that building, we love football and we're going to continue to keep doing things just like it's a championship week, and that's how our approach was all week, championship week, and just doing things right. You saw everybody click a practice all week, and it turned out to be an amazing game today."
Left tackle Duane Brown, who is wrapping up his fifth season in Seattle since arriving in a midseason trade with Houston in 2017, credited Carroll with having the team so well prepared despite a disappointing season up to this point.
"That's the beauty of Pete, man, he's always going to have a way to inspire you, no matter what," Brown said. "And this is uncharted territory. For a lot of people that have been part of the organization for the last 10 years, having a losing season, no shot at the playoffs, no hope for the playoffs, it's uncharted territory. So credit goes to him just finding a way to keep guys inspired and wanting to come out and perform at a high level. We're competitors, we're fighters, we're a resilient group. And we knew this was our last home game, so we wanted to put on a show. We're so appreciative of our fans who have supported us throughout this year."
The Seattle Seahawks take on the Detroit Lions at Lumen field for Week 17 of the 2021 season. This album will be updated throughout the game. Game Action photos are presented by Washington's Lottery.