Russell Wilson looked like the NFL's MVP, and the Seahawks defense returned to Super Bowl form in a 24-10 win over the Eagles on Sunday Night Football. It was easily the game of the year for Seattle. Here's why.
Don’t write the Seahawks off quite yet. Did anyone see this coming after last week’s rough outing against the 49ers?
In its 24-10 win over the Philadelphia Eagles (10-2) on Sunday night, the Seahawks (8-4) showed that they are still very much in the playoff mix.
Seattle’s win helped them keep pace in the NFC West with the division-leading L.A. Rams, who remained the team to beat after dispatching with the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday afternoon.
1. This Seahawks team plays to the level of its opponent
Maddeningly, the 2017 Seahawks appear to play up or down to the level of their opponent. A week after allowing San Francisco – which, to that point had only won one game this season – to stick around till the end, Seattle came out dominant and shut down the league’s No. 1 scoring offense.
The Eagles entered Sunday night’s game averaging 381.5 yards per game. They managed only 128 by halftime, and Settle’s defense held Carson Wentz to 45 yards on 9 of 13 passing in the first half.
But more importantly the Seahawks came out hot. They managed a 46-yard field goal on the opening drive, held Philly scoreless through the Eagles’ first two drives, then marched 85 yards and capped things off with an 11-yard touchdown pass from Russell Wilson to Jimmy Graham that put Seattle up 10-0 by the end of the first quarter.
Graham’s score was only the second time this year that Seattle has scored a touchdown in the first quarter.
Can you imagine how the first 11 games of the year could have gone if the Seahawks had started this hot, this early in the game?
2. Seahawks’ defense shows there might be life post-Sherman/Chancellor after all
Bradley McDougald is never going to be Kam Chancellor, but he did his best Chancellor imitation against the Eagles, tallying 12 tackles – second behind only Bobby Wagner’s 13 – including one TFL and seven solo stops.
The Seahawks’ defense held the Eagles to their fewest points of the year and handed them their first loss since September, when the Chiefs beat Philly 27-20.
Philadelphia was eight of 16 on third-down conversions, and the Seahawks defense came up with two huge red zone.
The most significant momentum shifter came early in the third quarter. The Eagles began their drive at their own 25, and had advanced to second-and-goal at the Seahawks’ 6. Quarterback Carson Wentz decided to take it to the end zone himself, but he ran into a horde of Seahawks just short of the goal line, and Sheldon Richardson stripped the ball while Earl Thomas wrapped him up. The ball took an unexpected bounce and went out the back of the end zone to give Seattle a touchback and shut down the Eagles’ promising scoring drive.
So instead of Philly tying the game 10-10, the Seahawks maintained their slim 10-3 lead, and took full advantage of the turnover by going the other way to score on an 80-yard drive that was set up nicely by a 47-yard Doug Baldwin reception and punctuated with a 1-yard touchdown strike from Wilson to Tyler Lockett.
At that point, up 17-3, Seattle never looked back.
The Eagles tried to mount a comeback, but were silenced when Byron Maxwell intercepted Wentz in the end zone right before the two-minute warning in the fourth quarter.
3. Mike Davis could be the answer to Seattle’s woeful run game
Mike Davis spent the first 10 weeks on Seattle’s practice squad, but after his last two performances, he’s emerged as the would-be savior who could bolster the Seahawks’ woeful run game up to the ranks of passable.
In Davis’ first game on the active roster against Atlanta two weeks ago, he showed some promise, rushing for 18 yards on six attempts and catching two passes for 41 yards. Unfortunately for Seattle, he also injured his groin toward the end of their win over the Falcons, and was inactive against San Francisco last week as he recovered from his injury.
On Sunday night against the Eagles, Davis started at running back and provided a much-needed spark. As he showed against Philly, Davis has some jitterbug to him. He bounced off one defender and spun around to pick up six yards in the first quarter that set up Blair Walsh’s 46-yard field goal, and his 23-yard reception from Wilson on Seattle’s third drive was a thing of beauty. Davis was blocking when Wilson was flushed from the pocket, rolling right. Wilson pointed to McKissic and yelled at his direction, and the back beat his man one-on-one, caught a dump off from Wilson and rolled upfield for 23 yards.
Davis rushed 15 times for 63 yards, and also caught four passes for 37 yards to finish with 100 offensive yards — the most yardage by a Seattle tailback all year.
Also noteworthy: running back J.D. McKissic’s only catch of the night went for a 15-yard touchdown.
It probably didn’t hurt that Seattle finally has its five best offensive linemen on the field at once. Luke Joeckel and Duane Brown paired at left guard and left tackle, respectively, with rookie Ethan Pocic at right guard, Germain Ifedi at right tackle, and Justin Britt at center.