Seahawks surging into playoffs on strength of their defence

·4 min read

SEATTLE — In the aftermath of giving up 44 points in a Week 9 loss at Buffalo, Pete Carroll was flustered and discouraged.

Carroll's Seattle Seahawks — known for the past decade for their defensive prowess — had lost a big piece of their identity.

“We were so uncharacteristic, and so off and all that. That was like the final straw,” Carroll said Monday. “We had to make sure that we adjusted, and figured it out and tweaked it and all of that.”

Seattle's defensive turnaround came to completion on Sunday in a 20-9 win over the Los Angeles Rams that wrapped up Carroll's fifth division title with the Seahawks.

For the past seven games, Seattle’s defence has been among the best in the NFL. The Seahawks are giving up 15 points per game, best in the league, and are tied for first in sacks (24), third in total defence and sixth in pass defence during that span.

On Sunday, they limited the Rams to their lowest point total of the season.

“We figured it out,” linebacker K.J. Wright said. “Guys are just starting to be accountable, we’re communicating like no other. To hear the other guys’ voices each and every play is truly special.”

WHAT’S WORKING

It never looks easy for Russell Wilson when he faces the Rams. He’s usually scrambling to avoid Aaron Donald and the rest of LA's pass rush while still trying to make plays downfield. That’s resulted in some ugly performances, including earlier this season when he was sacked six times, threw two interceptions and had a season-low passer rating of 57.0 in the Week 10 loss.

Wilson didn’t have huge numbers and he was still sacked five times on Sunday. But he avoided big mistakes and was excellent in the second half. Wilson was 10 of 13 for 141 yards in the second half, ran for one score and passed for the clinching TD. The big play was a 45-yard strike to David Moore on a key third down on the third play of the second half. Wilson could have run for the first down, but instead took his shot downfield to Moore.

“There is no fear in that throw. You just believe in it and you shoot it and you let it ride,” Wilson said.

WHAT NEEDS HELP

Seattle may end up looking back on its Week 13 loss to the New York Giants with frustration as it could be the reason the Seahawks don’t get the No. 1 seed in the NFC. Seattle needs a win over San Francisco and losses by Green Bay and New Orleans to claim the top 1 seed and a first-round bye.

STOCK UP

Almost a year later, Jacob Hollister found some redemption.

It was Dec. 29, 2019 when Hollister was stopped on the 1-yard line on the final play of Seattle’s 26-21 loss to San Francisco. The last play of the regular season gave the division title to the 49ers and relegated Seattle to a wild card.

On Sunday, it was Hollister coming free in the same end zone to grab the 13-yard TD pass from Wilson with less than three minutes remaining that clinched the division title.

STOCK DOWN

The Seahawks released veteran defensive tackle Damon “Snacks” Harrison on Monday. It was a strange conclusion to what had seemed to be a completely normal relationship. Harrison had appeared in six straight games for the Seahawks and been in the rotation at defensive tackle. But with Bryan Mone healthy to come off injured reserve, Seattle chose to activate Mone and scratch Harrison for Sunday’s game.

That was not the role Harrison wanted to play going forward. Harrison attempted to explain his decision to ask for his release on social media, and left open the possibility of playing again.

INJURIES

Seattle came out mostly healthy and should be getting cornerback Tre Flowers back this week. He's missed the past month with a hamstring injury.

KEY NUMBER

3 — Seattle has held five straight opponents under 20 points for the third time under Carroll. Seattle held six straight opponents under 20 points during the 2014 season, the last time the Seahawks reached the Super Bowl. Seattle also had an eight-game stretch spanning the 2012 and 2013 seasons.

UP NEXT

The Seahawks will face San Francisco in Glendale, Arizona, on Sunday. Seattle beat the 49ers 37-27 in Week 8.

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Tim Booth, The Associated Press