Three immediate impressions from the Seahawks’ 26-23 victory over the San Francisco 49ers to close out the regular season on Sunday afternoon in Glendale, Arizona:
Seahawks-Rams wild-card playoff game set
The Seahawks came into the weekend as the No. 3 seed for the NFC playoffs. They’ll exit the weekend with a 12-4 record and the No. 3 seed in the NFC playoffs.
Seattle’s chances of climbing to the No. 1 seed were always slim, and victories by the Packers and Saints — games being played simultaneously with the Seahawks-49ers game — means the Seahawks will play next weekend in the wild-card round.
As the NFC West champions, we know the Seahawks will be playing at home. We know now, too, they’ll be playing against a division rival — the Los Angeles Rams — for a third time.
The Rams, playing with backup QB John Wolford, defeated the Cardinals on Sunday. That gives the Rams a wild-card berth as the No. 6 seed and a return trip to Seattle — just two weeks after the Seahawks knocked off the Rams, 20-9, to clinch the NFC West title.
Green Bay, by beating Chicago, has held onto the NFC’s No. 1 seed, and New Orleans is the No. 2 seed.
Playoff dates and times for wild-card weekend are expected to be announced Sunday night.
Seahawks offense comes alive late
It’s a weird contradiction right now: This Seattle offense might be the best offense in franchise history.
The Seahawks, in fact, broke the franchise record for points scored in a season — now at 459 — eclipsing the 452 points scored by the 2005 NFC championship team.
But, then, there has obviously been a lot of hand-wringing over this Seahawks offense of late. How good is it, really?
It’s not the same offense it was in the first half of the season, when it was lighting up everyone and Russell Wilson was on pace to shatter the NFL’s single-season touchdown record.
Some of that drop-off is by design. As Pete Carroll has explained, he wants balance — the kind of balance he believes is better suited for the playoffs. That means Seattle’s offense is helping out Seattle’s defense — winning the turnover battle, running efficiently, creating big plays in the pass game.
But what we saw in the first three quarters from this Seahawks offense was, no doubt, frustrating for those of you watching from home. That third quarter, in particular, was ugly — when the Seahawks had just three yards on six plays, as the 49ers scored 16 unanswered points to take a 16-6 lead.
These are the games Carroll loves, though. He loves the drama. He loves to see his team, and his quarterback, at their best in the fourth quarter. And they were at their best in the fourth quarter, closing out the game with three consecutive touchdown drives.
The first two touchdowns came on Wilson passes to Tyler Lockett, who had another terrific game at State Farm State. Lockett had 12 catches for 90 yards and those two TDs to break the franchise record for catches in a season — now at 100.
More good news: DK Metcalf broke Steve Largent’s 35-year-old franchise record for receiving yards in a season, with Metcalf’s new mark standing at 1,303 yards.
The Seahawks didn’t commit a turnover. They ran the ball fairly efficiently (26 carries for 122 yards, with Chris Carson posting 44 yards on 11 carries).
Seahawks defense banged up
Jamal Adams injured his shoulder in the fourth quarter. Jarran Reed left the game with an abdominal injury earlier.
Their status during the week will be among the biggest storylines leading up to the playoff matchup against the Rams.
Adams had hurt his shoulder early in the first game against the Rams on Nov. 15, but he had said that injury was largely healed. It wasn’t immediately clear if this injury was related to that initial shoulder injury, but Adams was clearly in discomfort.
FOX TV cameras showed Adams throwing his helmet on the sideline after he came out of the injury tent with a trainer.
Reed was earlier spotted walking back to the locker room with a trainer.
The Seahawks defense played well, holding the 49ers to three field goals by former UW kicker Tristan Vizcaino through three quarters. The 49ers scored their first touchdown early in the fourth quarter, and added another with 23 seconds left, after the Seahawks’ had built a 26-16 lead in the final two minutes.
Benson Mayowa had one of his best games of the season, posting two sacks. He stripped C.J. Beathard on the second sack late in the fourth quarter, the only turnover of the game. That set up Seattle’s final score, an 8-yard TD run by Alex Collins.