It took the Seahawks until the final week of the season, but Sunday’s 27-9 win over the St. Louis Rams earned Seattle an NFC West Championship and home field advantage throughout the playoffs.
The only disappointment was that the offense got off to another slow start this week. Prior to a Marshawn Lynch touchdown late in the third quarter, the defense had accounted for more points than the offense.
With the disappointing stuff out of the way, let’s move on to all of the positive stuff.
On the Rams first possession of the game, this Seahawks defense set the tone of the game when linebacker Malcolm Smith took a tipped pass in for a touchdown. After a came up just a few yards short against the Cardinals last week, it was great to see him get the 37-yard score.
How well this defense has played all season cannot be overstated. Looking at the totals at the end of the season proves this is among the best defensive squads the NFL has seen.
With less than 274 yards per game, the Seahawks defense allows almost 30 yards less than the next closest team (Carolina – 301.2 yards). They’ve allowed just 14.4 points per game, a total of 231 all season, ahead of only Carolina (15.1 points, 241 total). Seattle is first in the league in pass yards allowed per game with 172, 20 yards less than the Saints in second place. Their 28 interceptions is five more than the next closest team (Buffalo – 23).
According to Brian Long (@UnfilteredSport on Twitter) the last NFL defense to lead in all four of these categories was the 2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers. That team won the Super Bowl.
Let’s talk offense.
Today was one of Golden Tate’s best games of his career. He may as well have been the only Seahawks receiver on the field. He caught 8 passes for 129 yards and Wilson only threw for 172 yards total on 15 completions.
On the stat sheet it didn’t look like the team put up a whole lot offensively, but there were some big plays that were taken off the board due to penalties. Golden Tate had a touchdown catch at the end of the first half that was called back because of a holding call on Russell Okung.
Starting the fourth quarter, Wilson hit tight end Luke Willson over the middle after the Rams jumped offside. Normally, if the defender doesn’t go after the quarterback, the offense gets a free play. Instead, the officials blew the play dead to negate the catch. It would’ve added a 75-yard touchdown to the stat sheet.
Unfortunately, Luke Willson was injured on the following play where he came up short of the first down and Seattle was forced to punt.
As much as it feels like Seattle has struggled on offense, the team is still 8th in the league in scoring points averaging over 26 per game. A solid average like that along with a defense that barely allows more than an average of two touchdowns is an excellent combination.
Penalties had been an issue for the ‘Hawks over the last few games. Sunday, Penalties were more of an issue for the Rams than they were for Seattle. The Seahawks were able to limit penalties after the whistle and were flagged seven times for 65 yards. The Rams were flagged multiple times for activity after the play was over, and if not for getting most of their penalties in the red zone they would have easily gone over 100 yards.
In addition with getting hit with three flags on a single play earlier in the game, right before the Lynch touchdown the Rams were flagged four times in just two plays. The first came on a late hit on Lynch out of bounds at the 22. That penalty gave the Seahawks the ball on the 11-yard line.
After a Robert Turbin run for no gain, an unsportsmanlike conduct call moved the ball to the 6-yard line before another Rams player was disqualified for slapping away an officials hand (after accidentally hitting the referee in the face), and he was flagged again when he threw his helmet to the field on his way to the locker room.
Those two penalties in succession gave the Seahawks the ball on the 3-yard line and then to the 1-yard line after the helmet toss. Lynch walked in for the touchdown and you could feel that it wasn’t the Rams’ day from that point on.
Special teams were almost equally disappointing as they were awesome. Disappointing in the sense that Jon Ryan and the Seahawks won’t get the record for the least amount of punt return yards allowed. The 57 yards of returns by the Rams was more than double what the Seahawks had given up through the first 15 games.
But Ricardo Lockette delivered enough of a hit on Justin Veltung to make us forget about the record. Lockette timed his tackle perfectly as he put a huge hit on Veltung, who was able to somehow hang onto the football.
The Seahawks don’t play again until Saturday, January 11. They’ll take on the lowest remaining seed after next weekend’s games. It’ll either be the Packers, 49ers or Saints.
The Saints play the Eagles Saturday night, if New Orleans wins they’re coming back to Seattle. If Philadelphia wins, the victor of the San Francisco game in Green Bay will determine the Seahawks next opponent.
I get the feeling as if it won’t matter which team the Seahawks face. As tough as a place CenturyLink is to play during the regular season, the Seahawks are even more dominant in the post season. They’ve won five straight and are 5-1 overall with the only loss coming to the Rams in the 2004 season.
Waiting one week for this game against St. Louis was tough enough. Now we have to wait two weeks to watch the Seahawks again. It’s going to be a tough grind, but hopefully we’ll be able to get through it together.