No team in the NFL has outscored its opponents by more in the first three quarters this season. But for the Seahawks, in the fourth quarter, Clark Kent turns into Superman.
The Eagles are a fast-starting team that has outscored opponents in the first three quarters this season, 256-108. No team in the league has a bigger point differential in the first three quarters.
Their average lead going into the fourth quarter during their nine-game winning streak has been 16 1/2 points. In the last four games, it’s been a hefty 22 1/2. They’ve essentially been using the final 15 minutes as a cooling-down period.
On Sunday night, it would behoove the Eagles to follow that same season-long script and pack as large a lead as they can against the Seahawks heading into the fourth quarter, and then hold on tight for what could be a turbulent finish.
The Seahawks have been outscored 166-162 in the first three quarters of games this season. But in the fourth quarter, Clark Kent becomes Superman.
Led by quarterback Russell Wilson, the 7-4 Seahawks are the league’s best fourth-quarter team. They’ve outscored opponents in the final quarter, 104-46.
Wilson is the maestro of their fourth-quarter symphony. He is the league’s top-rated fourth-quarter passer, with a 134.9 rating. Fourteen of his 23 touchdown passes have come in the fourth quarter. He has a 70.8 percent completion rate and is averaging 9.2 yards per attempt in the fourth quarter. Ten of his 24 rushing first downs have come in the fourth quarter.
“Russell has been a fantastic finisher and a great fourth-quarter quarterback,’’ Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said.
“It just starts with his attitude and his belief in himself. He has an unwavering confidence that he’s going to find a way to get it done.
“Then there’s the chemistry [he has] with the coaches and the calls that come in and how he utilizes the players he’s working with. He has great chemistry with Doug [Baldwin, wide receiver] and with Jimmy [Graham, tight end] and with Paul Richardson [wide receiver]. Those guys have come through for him. They all have a real mentality about it.’’
Nineteen of Graham’s 49 catches and five of his eight touchdown receptions and 15 of his 30 receiving first downs have been in the fourth quarter. Richardson and Baldwin have combined for five TDs and 19 first downs in the fourth quarter.
“The quarterbacks that I’ve been around that have been successful in the fourth quarter, they just focus that much more [later in the game] on their assignment,’’ Eagles coach Doug Pederson said. “They just zero in on the task at hand.
“They know it’s the last drive or two of the game and they have to make a play. That’s what separates them from a young quarterback or a quarterback that maybe doesn’t have that same intensity or focus.
“I saw it with [Dan] Marino. I saw it with [Brett] Favre. You see it in Carson and you see it in Russell. Guys that just zero in and lock in on what they have to do.’’
Wilson clearly saves his best for last. In the last three seasons, he has a 92.8 passer rating in the first three quarters and 115.5 in the fourth quarter.
He has a 46-22 touchdown-to-interception differential in the first three quarters during that time and 32-5 in the fourth quarter.
“You can’t take your foot off the gas with that guy,’’ said safety Rodney McLeod, who has gone up against Wilson nine times, eight times when he was with the Rams and once last year with the Eagles. “They’re never out of it with No. 3 back there.’’
Defensive end Chris Long, who, like McLeod, faced Wilson several times when he was with the Rams, was victimized by him last year when he was with the Patriots.
The Patriots lost just two games last year and won the Super Bowl. One of those two losses was to Wilson and the Seahawks.
The Patriots took a 24-22 lead into the fourth quarter. But Wilson led the Seahawks to two fourth-quarter scores, completing six of eight passes for 92 yards and a 15-yard touchdown to Baldwin in a 31-24 Seahawks win.
“Russell kind of has that magic up his sleeve,’’ Long said. “That’s a team that’s real gritty and tough. They always find a way. Defensively, they create turnovers, especially at home. When the crowd gets behind them, they can do some pretty special things.
“We’ve got to know the environment we’re walking into. A good football team with a tradition of winning. And obviously, a very good quarterback.’’
Pederson said Friday that he would actually welcome a fourth-quarter alley fight Sunday night. Thinks it would be good mettle-tester for his 10-1 team after so many lopsided wins.
“You’d like to win by a couple of scores, but you know that’s not going to happen every week,’’ he said. “Especially here down the stretch.
“I think it would be a great opportunity if we were in a position where you’re down a touchdown or a field goal, or maybe even two scores, and then you figure out a way to get it done.