The Seahawks made a statement on Sunday. Not just to the NFL, but to their own fan base. For a team that famously (or infamously, depending on your view) preaches “winning the game in the fourth quarter,” Seattle has been relatively poor at finishing teams off in 2020. But against the Rams, the Seahawks looked every bit as dominant as has come to be expected in the Pete Carroll era.
Entering this game, the Seahawks had been outscored in the fourth quarter and overtime of 10 of their 14 games and by a total of 133-100. Fortunately for Seattle, the team has been able to hang on more often than not, only losing one game in which they carried a lead into the fourth quarter (Week 7 at Cardinals). Still, it’s been a cause for concern given how uncharacteristic it is.
Outside of their 40-3 thrashing of the Jets two weeks ago, the Seahawks hadn’t played a truly dominant, full game. While the win over the Jets does, as Pete Carroll put it, “look different” now that New York’s knocked off the Rams and Browns in back-to-back weeks, it’s hard to feel very convinced by anything done against Sam Darnold and company. This needed to be put to test against a team more in line with what Seattle will have to face in the postseason, like the Los Angeles Rams.
On Sunday, the Seahawks passed that test with flying colors. Despite an expectedly sluggish start in the first half, particularly from Russell Wilson, Seattle’s offense finally tapped into its signature killer instinct, taking control of the game when it was needed the most and erasing any lingering doubt about the outcome.
Up by four with 7:20 left in the game and a division title in sight, the Seahawks didn’t opt for a conservative approach and rely on their defense - which had been on the field for over half the game - for another heroic stance. Instead, Wilson and offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer put together a masterfully aggressive and methodical drive to seal the NFC West championship.
With two chunk plays to Tyler Lockett and some punishing downhill running from Chris Carson, the Seahawks worked their way to the red zone. As the down and distance shifted to 3rd and 4 from the Rams’ 13 yard-line, there was no telling what Seattle would do. While what feels like the obvious decision is to be aggressive and throw past the sticks, there’s a legitimate argument to be had about playing it safe, running it, and kicking the field goal to go up by seven points against a hurt Jared Goff.
For the reputation Pete Carroll’s Seahawks often reinforce, it felt they would go the latter route, which made it all the more surprising when Wilson connected with Jacob Hollister for the dagger on a similar play to the one the star quarterback was intercepted on six weeks prior against the same opponent.
It was the statement the Seahawks needed to make. To the rest of the NFL, their fans, their critics, and everyone in between. This was the last hurdle for them to clear prior to the postseason, proving they can handle business when the time comes and not always escape by the skin of their teeth. This was a performance reminiscent of dominant Seahawks teams of the recent past. It was the most complete performance, in such an important game, that they’ve had in a few years. And it couldn’t have come at a better time with the playoffs right around the corner.
There’s a lot of momentum to glean from this, as the Seahawks have seemingly found a solution to some of their early season woes on both sides of the ball. If that’s truly the case, it’s hard to see how any team can beat them except for themselves.