After a few mid-season losses and a dynamic divisional win over the Arizona Cardinals a few weeks ago, the mighty Seattle Seahawks looked like a solidified team. Seemingly poised to make a dominant run to close out the regular season and enter the playoffs as contenders with momentum.
Their first stop was in The City of Brotherly Love against the lackluster Philadelphia Eagles.
Coming into last Monday’s game, the Hawks we’re arguably in the best form of their season. They added critical personal to a diminished squad at the right time. And they put it to use, beating the Eagles 23-17 in front of a national Monday Night Football audience.
Don’t let the score convince you that it was a competitive game. It wasn’t. The game never felt out of hand, not really. Even though the Hawks didn’t play particularly well on offense, the inept Eagles were (and will continue to be) a flat-out terrible and easily beatable team.
From Eagles quarterback, Carson Wentz’s horrific decision-making and off-target throws to head coach, Doug Peterson’s inexplicable play calls and poor personal decisions, the home team looked outmatched from the coin flip… Which they lost.
The Eagles went three-and-out in their first three possessions, and at the end of the first quarter, their offensive output had amassed negative four yards. Woof.
Against an opponent like that, the Seahawks didn’t need to have a good game to win, which was fortunate because they didn’t play particularly well. Quarterback, Russell Wilson completed 22/31 passes for 230 yards and a touchdown. Fine and mistake-free, but not the elite stat lines we’ve seen this season.
In his first game back, running back, Chris Carson was eased back into action with eight carries for 41 yards. He looked pretty good overall, especially on a muscle-his-way-by-sheer-determination-through-the-entire-defense touchdown. After the game, he spoke about the scoring run; “You know me, I saw that end zone, so my game is physical, so I wanted to get it in.”
The only offensive player that really shined in Philly was dominant wide receiver and Offensive Player of the Year candidate, D.K. Metcalf. While drawing the full attention of the Eagles best pass defender, Darius Slay Jr., Metcalf added 177 yards to his season, officially taking over the receiving yards lead with an eye-popping 1,039 yards… So far.
After the game, Metcalf explained that he had a little extra pep in his step during the game because of the Eagles themselves. “It’s kind of like coming home, a place that had a chance to draft me, but they didn’t, so I’ve got to make them pay.”
But if that wasn’t enough, according to Metcalf, during pre-game warm-ups, Eagles defensive coordinator, Jim Schwartz told him; “You know, I was in Detroit with Megatron, but you’re not there yet.”
If you don’t know, ‘Megatron’ is Calvin Johnson, a retired Lions receiver who was extraordinary and is almost certainly bound for the Hall of Fame. Metcalf has drawn comparisons to him due to their similar build, speed and success over opponents.
Schwartz says he meant it as a compliment, but Metcalf took it another way. In his interview, he explained what he was thinking; “In my mind, I’m not trying to be Megatron. I’m trying to be me. So, I had a little chip on my shoulder the whole game.”
Just a little, tiny chip…
On the defensive side of the ball, things looked good again. They had an easier opponent, which helped them shine, but things were more in-sync overall, besides the sub-par Eagles. And that makes sense, as defenses usually need time to gel and play as a single unit (rather than a collection of individuals). And after adding key free-agents mid-season and getting injured players back, things have connected for the defense.
Which ironically helps the offense.
And when the Hawks offense doesn’t have to go full throttle to win, they can pick their moments to strike more effectively. They can exhaust an opposing defense with Carson to pound the body and when an opponent tries to block that, unleash Metcalf and the less-publicized (but still-incredible), Tyler Lockett to take the knockout shot down field.
This more balanced team (explosive offense & improved defense) unlocks the best version of both. And it’s developing at just the right time of the season too—the playoff push—which starts on Sunday, when the 8-3 Seahawks face the 4-7 New York Giants.
Before last week, the Giants would’ve been relatively more intimidating opponent, but tragically, their better-than-you-think quarterback, Daniel Jones suffered a hamstring injury and is unlikely to play against the Hawks. And backup QB, Colt McCoy isn’t a frightening adversary whatsoever.
Not that any game in the NFL is easy, they aren’t.
But with even a fair defensive performance by the Seahawks, Wilson and the offense should be able to feast on the vulnerable Giants. I’m predicting a blowout win by the Hawks, advancing the team one step closer to the post-season.
And following the G-Men, the Hawks will square-off against the currently win-less New York Jets, gifting the 12s with an even more likely victory. Nothing can be assumed, but the Seahawks have entered the softest stretch of their season.
Even in the ultra-competitive NFC West, the Seahawks—once again squarly seated atop the division—look calm and in command of their own destiny. This is our year.
P.S. When Wilson completed his second pass, he became the second player (Peyton Manning) to throw for 3,000+ yards in his first nine seasons. Coincidentally, Wilson and Manning are also the only two passes to score 20 touchdowns in their first nine seasons.
First ballot Hall of Famers are pretty good company to keep so close. Go Hawks!