Seahawks Win Battle of Battered Birds, Earn Trip to Green Bay
Advancing into the divisional round for the first time since 2016, the Seahawks overcame sloppy play on both sides of the football to knock out the Eagles in a 17-9 wild card victory at Lincoln Financial Field.
In a performance that replicated the first matchup between the two teams in Week 12 all the way down to the final score, Russell Wilson completed 18 out of 30 passes for 325 yards, DK Metcalf caught seven passes for a team postseason record 160 yards, and Seattle produced seven quarterback sacks defensively to limit Philadelphia to just three field goals.
Here are four takeaways from Seattle’s 12 win of the season and first playoff victory in three years.
Seattle’s offense was just good enough to win against a wounded Philadelphia squad.
Despite racking up 11 penalties for 114 yards and squandering several promising offensive drives as a result, Seattle accomplished what Philadelphia couldn’t – finish drives with six points. Knotted up at three late in a boring first half, Wilson found receiver David Moore on a shallow crosser and he slipped through a tackle attempt by safety Cre’Von LeBlanc, racing 38 yards to put the Seahawks in the red zone for the first time. A couple plays later, defensive end Derek Barnett was nailed with roughing the passer penalty, setting up a 1st and goal opportunity.
Exhibiting vintage “Beast Mode” tenacity, Marshawn Lynch bulldozed his way into the end zone for the game’s first touchdown. After the Eagles scored a field goal to open the third quarter, Wilson immediately answered, connecting with DK Metcalf on a 53-yard touchdown pass to extend the lead to 17-6. Seattle didn’t do anything else the rest of the game, but it proved to be enough against an undermanned team.
Seattle stuck with its offensive philosophy far too long when it wasn’t going to work.
Coach Pete Carroll has won a ton of NFL games in Seattle with a dominant ground game anchoring the offense. But without tackle Duane Brown, guard Mike Iupati, and center Justin Britt available along with a plethora of running back injuries, there’s no way he could’ve expected the Seahawks to have much success running between the tackles against a defensive front anchored by Fletcher Cox. Cox manhandled center Joey Hunt all night long, constantly finding his way into the backfield to blow up runs along with generating interior pressure on Wilson.
With nothing to work with, rookie Travis Homer finished with just 12 yards on 11 carries, while Lynch rushed for seven yards on six carries. The only real threat of a run game the Seahawks had was Wilson, who broke a 22-yard run in the first half and later slipped through a tackle by linebacker Nigel Bradham for an 18-yard gain. And yet, time and time again, Seattle kept haplessly running the ball in 1st and 20 and 2nd and 15 situations rather than putting the ball in their quarterback’s hands.
After a dominant first half, the Seahawks defense went into an inexcusable second half lull.
Helped by the departure of starting quarterback Carson Wentz, who exited after the Eagles’ second offensive drive with a concussion following a hit by Jadeveon Clowney, the Seahawks held their opponent to 87 total yards and three points in the first half. But coming out of halftime, Carroll’s defense seemed to lack urgency, allowing backup Josh McCown to engineer five different drives that went past midfield deep into Seattle territory. Receivers and tight ends were coming wide open and cornerback Tre Flowers committed two big defensive pass interference penalties to further aid Philadelphia’s offensive progress.
On three different occasions, the Eagles had the ball inside the 15-yard line, but the Seahawks held firm when they needed to while nursing a slim lead. Two of those possessions ended in field goals, while the other one ended with a fourth down stop to turn the ball back over to the offense. Against a far superior Packers team next week, they won’t be able to afford playing so passively in coverage.
Don’t let statistics fool you – the Seahawks pass rush wasn’t near as disruptive as numbers indicate.
Seattle finished with seven sacks, easily the largest total they’ve had all season long. Quinton Jefferson led the way with two sacks, while five other players joined the action. But it might have been the quietest seven-sack effort ever seen, as it didn’t feel like the Seahawks were having a ton of success getting to McCown and several of those sacks came just behind the line of scrimmage on scrambles. The 40-year old veteran still looked spry, escaping the pocket several times and completing 75 percent of his pass attempts without the services of the Eagles top three receivers. While getting Clowney back certainly helped the front line, Ziggy Ansah exited with a neck injury in the second quarter and his status remains in doubt. Despite the statistics, rushing the passer still remains a concern heading to Green Bay to face Aaron Rodgers.