The Seahawks are going to make the damn playoffs. Well, probably. After a 30-27 win over the Carolina Panthers, arguably their fiercest competition for the sixth playoff spot in the NFC, the Seahawks are looking very likely to turn what should have been a depressing rebuilding slog into an impressive run to the postseason. This was a great game between two pretty good teams, with incredibly high stakes for the non-divisional game in November. And the Seahawks went out and won it despite being forced to diverge from their normal game plan.
This is wild as hell. The defense is made up of Bobby Wagner and some dudes. Notorious bumpkin Brian Schottenheimer guides the offense. The team’s closest thing to a useful first round pick is Germain Ifedi. This team should be garbage! But it isn’t! It’s solidly above-average in damn near every phase of the game.
Which is to say what’s good about this Seahawks team is not that it’s great at anything, but that it is good at everything. The worst thing about the Seahawks is their pass defense in a post-Earl Thomas world, but even there the team isn’t bad. No Pete Carroll coached team could be truly bad at defending the pass.
Instead we have a Pete Carroll coached team that is bad at nothing. And being bad at nothing is pretty damn good. It means that when something you normally rely on isn’t working (say the run game, or having Earl Thomas) you can go to something else (passing the damn ball, standing up the run in the red zone). This Seahawks team is so loaded up with Plan Bs, they’ve been condemned by the Catholic church.
BUT I DIGRESS, FOLKS.
Let’s break this game down:
• The defense as a whole was confounding on Sunday. Outside of Bobby Wagner’s first half, and Bradley McDougald’s game-changing interception, no one played particularly well. I guess Tre Flowers and Jarran Reed made some plays, but on the whole, the defense was gashed by a Christian McCaffrey-led attack in a multitude of ways. Frank Clark and the pass rush were particularly dire on Sunday, never coming particualrly close to registering a sack on Cam Newton. The Seahawks wound up yielding 8.4 yards per play, which is terrible, and continues to be a bad trend for the defense since Earl Thomas got hurt. Credit to Norv Turner and the Panthers offense for an excellent performance.
• Well, an excellent performance outside the red zone. Once close to the end zone, everything flipped. The Seahawks run defense was superb, the pass defense was impregnable, and the Panthers were stymied again and again when close to hitting pay dirt. Is this good defense? Bad offense? Luck? I don’t know! Frankly, I don’t care. It happened and the Seahawks won. Go, team, go!
• Also, the Seahawks could barely run the ball against a Carolina defense that had just been torn apart by a middling Detroit rushing attack. Chris Carson was magnificent at times on Sunday, but Rashaad Penny and Mike Davis were relative non-factors. The running game that fueled the Seahawks recent success just wasn’t there against a Carolina team that pushed all-in to stop the run.
• So what happened? Russell Wilson happened. After a couple near-misses early, Wilson was dialed in during the second half. Those near-misses boded well; if Wilson is hitting Doug Baldwin on the fingertips and Doug just isn’t coming down with the ball, that means good things will happen later. And they sure as shit did.
Wilson hit on huge plays to his three primary targets: David Moore, Tyler Lockett, and Doug Baldwin. I’m not sure who was more impressive between Moore and Lockett. Lockett has managed to become both explosive and reliable for Wilson, a true elite wideout on a team that came into the season expected to rely exclusively on Doug Baldwin. So that’s impressive. But David Moore? He was on the bubble to make the team. And now he’s one of the the best number three receivers in the league. That’s also impressive! I’m impressed by everyone! What an impressive passing attack.
• Hold on, let’s go back to Chris Carson for a sec. What the fuck was this shit?
My highly technical analysis: Hot damn! Hot diggity damn!
• The game was so good I almost forgot that the Seahawks accidentally interrupted a rabbi before kickoff:
Awkward #Seahawks entrance onto to the field to play while Charlotte-area Rabbi is giving a pregame invocation. Panthers fans had to wait until after the prayer to boo the road team pic.twitter.com/iTTl2qlrov
— Gregg Bell (@gbellseattle) November 25, 2018
This is way too 2018 for my taste.
• Worth pointing out that Sebastian Janikowski is kicking better than I thought he would this year. He’s not great, but again, he’s not bad. That meant that the Seahawks could confidently set up a kick when they got into range with under a minute left rather than being forced to risk a turnover by taking shots into the endzone. I like this Seahawks team where everyone is good. It’s good!
• Speaking of good, the Seahawks slalom ride through hell that was the last run of games is now over. Now? They get a San Francisco team that is utterly dire. And they get them in Seattle. I’d be totally confident that the Seahawks would win except… dear god… it’s the first Richard Sherman revenge game. I’m terrified. TERRIFIED.