The Seahawks' secondary did just enough, Chris Carson carried the load and wide receiver Doug Baldwin continued to prove his worth to send Seattle back to the playoffs with a 38-31 win over the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Seahawks are headed to the playoffs.
Seattle (9-6) locked up a wild card spot on Sunday with an upset 38-31 win over the Kansas City Chiefs.
Here are three impressions from the Seahawks’ ninth win of the season.
Seahawks secondary answers the call (for long enough)
The Seahawks’ secondary entered Sunday’s game shrouded in unanswered questions.
Free safety Tedric Thompson was ruled out with a mysterious chest and ankle injury.
Standout safety Bradley McDougald was questionable after spending the entire week out of the area rehabbing a lingering knee injury.
Second-year cornerback Shaquill Griffin was also questionable, though head coach Pete Carroll insisted that he’d play.
Oh, and that secondary was set to receive its most sizable challenge of the season, against the NFL’s passing yards and touchdowns leader in Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes.
On the surface, it appeared that secondary would suffer on Sunday night.
On national television, the Seahawks proved a lot of people wrong … for a while.
Mahomes struggled in the first half, completing just six of 13 passes for 83 yards and a touchdown. Still, the MVP candidate ultimately completed 23 of 40 passes for 273 yards and three scores.
Linebacker Bobby Wagner unsurprisingly led the Seahawks with 12 tackles, while McDougald contributed seven tackles and a tackle for loss. Defensive end Dion Jordan added a sack as well as a forced fumble. In his first game back from a knee injury, linebacker K.J. Wright made two tackles and batted away another pass.
The Seahawks’ defense couldn’t hold Mahomes down forever, but made just enough plays — including a pair of fumble recoveries — to secure a playoff-clinching win.
Chris Carson reaches a milestone, and Baldwin comes up big
The statistics say that the Seahawks rushing attack should have feasted on Sunday, considering they led the NFL with 154.9 rushing yards per game and the Chiefs defense ranked last in opponent yards per carry (5.0).
But consider also that the entire starting right side of the Seattle offensive line — right tackle Germain Ifedi (groin) and right guard D.J. Fluker (hamstring) — missed some or all of Sunday’s game with the aforementioned injuries. Starting left guard J.R. Sweezy also left the game with an ankle injury and did not return.
Still, none of that mattered to Carson, who gained 116 yards and scored two touchdowns on 27 carries, piling up his fifth 100-yard rushing game of the season and second in a row. He also surpassed the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the season, finishing with 1,029 yards (so far).
To be clear, Carson wasn’t the Seahawks’ only offensive contributor. Wide receiver Doug Baldwin produced his second consecutive significant effort, catching seven passes for 126 yards and a 27-yard touchdown. Besides the touchdown, Baldwin also essentially iced the game in the fourth quarter, hauling in a 29-yard pass with his right hand before falling to the turf at the 1-yard line.
Quarterback Russell Wilson completed 18 of 29 passes for 271 yards and three touchdowns and ran for another 60 yards. Tight end Ed Dickson also made a difference, improbably dragging a trio of Chiefs for 18 yards on third-and-15 and later scoring a 2-yard touchdown.
Carson reached a milestone, but the win mattered more.
Seahawks survive special teams insanity
Very little went to plan for Seattle’s special teams on Sunday.
Placekicker Sebastian Janikowski missed a 36-yard field goal off the right upright in the first quarter. He later attempted another field goal and was roughed by an overly aggressive Chiefs defender, forcing him to stay down momentarily with an apparent injury. Janikowski later returned to the game but no longer handled kickoffs, which led rookie punter Michael Dickson to perform drop kicks as a result.
Dickson’s first drop kick produced pleasantly surprising results, as it was fielded at the 3-yard line and returned to the 17. His second kick careened out of bounds for a penalty.
Despite the injury, Janikowski also knocked through a 28-yard field goal and four extra points. Dickson had perhaps his worst punting day of the season, averaging 34.7 yards on three punts while planting one inside the 20.