Maybe this new incarnation of the 2020 Seahawks — which looks eerily similar to those of many of coach Pete Carroll’s first 10 years in Seattle — isn’t quite as exciting as the earlier “let’s give up a ton of points but score just a few more” version.
But it’s proving to be just as effective.
For the second consecutive week it was a suddenly revived defense that Seattle largely rode to victory, 23-17 over the Eagles on Monday night in Philadelphia. The Seahawks held an opponent to season lows in points and yards (250) for a second consecutive game.
“Defense did a fantastic job all night long,” Carroll said. “We’ve taken a real nice step forward, and I’m hoping that we can just keep building on it.”
Still, even the defense’s best outing of the season was almost overshadowed by the latest heroics of second-year receiver DK Metcalf, who set a career high with 177 yards receiving on 10 catches.
Metcalf was already eager to show the Eagles one more time what they missed by passing him by in the 2019 NFL draft — Philly took receiver J.J. Arcega-Whiteside seven picks before Seattle selected Metcalf.
Then he said he got an additional “little chip on my shoulder” when Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz — formerly the coach of the Detroit Lions — told him before the game that he wasn’t as good as former Detroit star Calvin “Megatron” Johnson.
“It kind of made me mad that he was like, ‘You know, I was in Detroit with Megatron, and you’re not there yet,’ ” said Metcalf, who had 10 receptions and bested the 161 receiving yards he had against the 49ers this month (and just a bit more than the 160 he had in a playoff game against the Eagles in January). Schwartz told reporters later he meant it as a compliment, that Metcalf was the closest thing he’s seen to Johnson, a three-time First Team All-Pro.
He’s undoubtedly getting close, though.
And where the Seahawks (8-3) are now is in sole possession of first place in the NFC West after winning their second in a row.
Seattle also stayed on the heels of the 9-2 Saints for the top seed in the NFC. Monday’s matchup was the first of a favorable stretch of four games against teams that had a combined 11 wins.
“We are 8-3,” said safety Jamal Adams, who was traded by the now 0-11 Jets to Seattle during the summer. “Damn that feels good. Let’s talk about that.”
He also may have wanted to talk about a pass defense that came in allowing 343.7 yards per game, last in the NFL, but gave up just 147 until the Eagles got 33 on a Hail Mary touchdown with 12 seconds left that made the game look closer than it really was,
And sure, it came against an Eagles offense that has struggled all season as opposed to highflying Arizona 11 before, a 28-21 Seattle win.
But this is the way a decent defense is supposed to treat a bad offense, something the Seahawks probably couldn’t have done earlier in the year.
“We were in control,” Carroll said. “And it was great to see our guys play like that.”
Indeed, Seattle held the Eagles without a first down on their first five drives, allowing the offense to build a 14-0 lead.
And the defense made big plays down the stretch — notably, two stops on fourth downs in the fourth quarter — allowing Seattle to hang on to its seventh consecutive victory against the Eagles and third in a little over a year.
“We are coming together man,” said Adams, who had one of the team’s six sacks. “Everybody is getting healthy. We are starting to understand the defense as a whole. We are playing together. We are playing as one.”
Offensively, the Seahawks didn’t quite have the balanced attack of last Thursday’s 28-21 win over Arizona, as Seattle was held to 77 yards rushing on 29 carries Monday.
But Metcalf made up for that to spark the offense on the two first-half TD drives that put Seattle in command.
About the only thing Carroll really lamented later was going for it on fourth down on Seattle’s first two possessions, including at the 2-yard line on the opening drive, failing each time.
“I had a terrible first quarter,” Carroll said. “I felt like I took the momentum away from us.”
Still, once Seattle got rolling in the second quarter the game was never in doubt.
The Seahawks led 14-6 at the end of a first half dominated by Seattle’s defense early on and Metcalf throughout.
The Seahawks forced Philly’s offense to go three-and-out on each of its first five possessions, with the Eagles held to a net of minus-one yards on its first 15 plays.
That allowed the Seattle offense to eventually break free and forge a 14-0 lead after two early possessions into Eagles territory yielded no points when the Seahawks failed on fourth downs.
In fact, Seattle’s first possession ended at the Eagles 2-yard line when Seattle went for it on fourth down and David Moore was tackled for a five-yard loss on a play in which he was flipped the ball as he ran in front of Wilson on a sweep.
Seattle’s next drive ended in another failed fourth down at the Philly 37 and the game was scoreless at the end of the first quarter.
But the Seahawks scored touchdowns on consecutive drives in the second quarter, marches of 68 and 56 yards, with Metcalf keying each.
A 52-yard Wilson-to-Metcalf connection on a third-and-13 took the ball to the Philly 1, where two plays later Wilson hit Moore for the touchdown.
On the next drive, Wilson hit Metcalf for 17 yards to the Eagles 6. After a penalty, Chris Carson then rumbled 16 yards for a touchdown and a 14-0 Seattle lead with 5:27 to play in the first half,
The Eagles finally got their offense moving, keyed by runs by Carson Wentz of 20 and 13 yards which set up a 3-yard pass from Wentz to tight end Dallas Goedert with 12 seconds to play in the half.
Seattle went three-and-out on its first possession of the second half, and the Eagles then drove to the Seahawks 17. But on third-and-10, Adams broke through to sack Wentz and force a field goal that cut the Seattle lead to 14-9 with 7:33 to play in the third quarter.
Seattle then answered with a field-goal drive of its own, with two more Metcalf catches allowing the Seahawks to get to the Philly 27 before the drive stalled ending in a Jason Myers field goal, his first of three on the night.
Seattle then stopped the Eagles twice on fourth-down plays in the fourth quarter — once when K.J. Wright batted down a pass at the line of scrimmage and another on a Quandre Diggs interception in the end zone. Myers added two more field goals to make it 23-9 before the Eagles’ final gift of a touchdown.