RENTON — Yeesh. Look at that total defense. The Seahawks have allowed 394.9 yards per game this season — the most in the NFL.

Yikes. Look at that pass defense. The Seahawks have given up 278.9 passing yards per game this year — also the most in the league. 

My goodness. Look at those takeaway numbers. The Seahawks have forced a mere 13 turnovers this season — tied for 25th in the league.

So how would you describe the Seahawks defense? Perhaps like this: The reason they still have an outside shot at the playoffs. 

Somehow, despite all these eyesore statistics, Seattle is fifth in the league in points allowed per game at 20.2. Incredibly, despite being last in the NFL in time of possession, the Seahawks (5-8) have allowed fewer touchdowns than all but three teams. 

There’s bend but don’t break, and then there’s get twisted like a balloon animal but don’t pop. That’s the Seahawks defense. You’ll rarely see anything quite like this. 


“You can get the yards and do your thing. We still got some stuff we still have to clean up,” Seahawks safety Quandre Diggs said. “(But) as long you’re not scoring touchdowns, I’m good.”

So how does one explain this chasm between yards allowed and points allowed? There are several factors, actually. 

One is red-zone defense. The Seahawks are the fourth-best in the league in opponent touchdown percentage once their foes cross the 20, giving up TD’s 48.98% of the time. The game-saving goal-line stand against the 49ers two Sundays ago reflected such efficiency. 

Much of this can be attributed to the Seahawks’ run defense, which has given up just 3.8 yards per carry this season — second only to the Saints. If teams can’t pound the ball when the field shrinks, they’re going to have trouble finding the end zone.

No doubt the Seahawks have had issues getting off the field this season, but their opponents have similar struggles scoring in six-point increments. 

Another reason for the Seahawks’ defensive success is what they do on third down. They’ve allowed other teams to convert just 35.88% of the time, which is seventh-best in the NFL. The Seahawks’ offense might not be able to move the chains on third down, but their opponents can’t, either. 


As linebacker Bobby Wagner put it: “I think, like I said, the important downs, third downs, red zones, things of that nature — we’ve had a lot of growth in that area. And now we just have to work on the yards and get that figured out.”

And then, of course, there is punter Michael Dickson. The former Pro Bowler has put the ball within the 20-yard line a league-high 34 times this year, and is third in inside-the-20 percentage. Long fields mean Seattle can give up the occasional explosive play and still force a punt or a field goal. And that’s been exactly what has happened throughout the season. 

“That’s always been characteristic of our best ball is when we’re, you know, Jon Ryan’s kicking the ball and putting him inside the 10-yard line. Mike is doing it like crazy, and he’s kicked more than anybody in the NFL,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “So of course we benefit from that.”

It would seem almost impossible for the Seahawks to make the playoffs if they don’t beat the Rams in Los Angeles on Sunday. But it was after their loss to the Rams in October that the defense seemed to finally turn around.

Remember, Seattle allowed 23 points in the second half in that 26-17 loss, as quarterback Matt Stafford threw for 365 yards. Since then? The Seahawks have given up a mere 17 points per contest.

Granted, they’ve had games against the Jaguars and Texans, two of the worst teams in football. But they also held Aaron Rodgers and the Packers to 17 points, albeit in a loss.


This has likely been the most tumultuous season for Seattle in the Carroll era. QB Russell Wilson missed three games with a finger injury, struggled in his first three games back, and now his team faces the prospect of a losing record for the first time since 2011.

But there is a glimmer of hope if they win out — which isn’t inconceivable if they pull off the upset Sunday.

If they do, the defensive players will have likely stepped up. It’s something they’ve done most of the season … in the most unconventional of ways.