The takeaway from Saturday’s game was not that Seattle look so great as the Lions looked awful. Still Seattle advanced to the divisional round for the fifth consecutive season.
For three quarters, they looked like those same struggling Seahawks, the ones lacking the offensive firepower to put away a feeble opponent.
For 45 minutes, Seattle seemed as though it would prefer to limp into the second round instead of sprinting into it like Usain Bolt.
The playoff pizazz we’ve come to expect from this group was absent. The force that had vaulted this franchise to the top of the NFC was MIA.
Yes, until that fourth quarter, the Seahawks looked as though they were simply delaying the inevitable, and then …
“This felt like old times,” Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman said. “It felt great.”
There are two ways to interpret Saturday’s 26-6 win over the Lions, and I’m not sure which one is correct. The first is that the playoffs bring out the best in the Seahawks — which is a perfectly sound premise.
It’s not often a team keeps an opponent out of the end zone in the wild-card round, but Seattle did just that vs. Detroit. It’s not every day a postseason franchise rushing record is set, either, but it happened when Thomas Rawls tallied 161 yards on 27 carries.
There is no better embodiment of “Seahawks football” than a blistering rushing game mixed with a boulder of a defense. And when you consider the night Paul Richardson had — which included a one-handed touchdown reception that ranks among the organization’s greatest postseason plays — Seattle’s trademark pixie dust was present, too.
By the end of the game, there was no doubt as to who the more talented and more prepared team was.
“We were ready to rumble out there,” Seattle tight end Luke Willson said. “You can tell we were playing some mean football.”
It’s hard to deny this, especially given the final score. However … there is a second way to interpret this game — and that’s that the Seahawks struggled most of the night against a terrible team.
Personally, that was my first impression. In fact, that’s what I wrote for the first edition of our paper, which required that I file immediately after the game.
I admit that my thoughts changed somewhat as the Seahawks piled on points in the final minutes, but I didn’t walk away convinced that this team had rediscovered its championship form.
It’s important to remember that Seattle had just 10 points through the first three quarters against what might be the NFL’s worst pass defense. It’s also important to remember that Richardson might have gotten away with a face-mask penalty on his TD catch — which came on fourth-and-goal from the 2-yard line.
Had the play of the season not occurred, these teams go into halftime possibly tied 3-3. That’s not a promising sign for a team trying to make a Super Bowl run.
As for the Seahawks’ defense? Well, its big night came against a team riding a three-game losing streak with an injury-riddled quarterback behind center. It also came against a team that threw away three first downs by refusing to catch the ball.
First it was Golden Tate. Then it was Eric Ebron. Then it was Anquan Boldin. Detroit quarterback Matt Stafford played with a splint on one finger; his teammates played with butter on all of theirs.
It wasn’t just the drops, though. It was the unnecessary-roughness calls the Lions committed to keep Seahawks drives alive.
Like the win over the Rams last month, one could make the argument that Seattle didn’t look great so much as Detroit looked god-awful. And truth be told, the Seahawks’ dominance wasn’t on full display until a Lions victory seemed unattainable. A one-second look at the score may tell you this contest was lopsided, but a three-hour look at the game may tell you otherwise.
Remember, there is just one goal for this organization, and that’s to hoist the Lombardi Trophy. It’s perfectly fair to wonder if the Seahawks are in enough of a groove to beat the scorching-hot Falcons in the Georgia Dome.
There were times Saturday when the Seahawks looked elite. There were times when it felt like “old times” indeed.
But did they prove they’re a championship threat? We may still be waiting for that evidence.
|Seahawks’ history in wild-card games|
|Seattle is 8-4 in wild-card playoff games and has won six in a row.|
|2016||at Minnesota||Win, 10-9|
|2013||at Washington||Win, 24-14|
|2011||New Orleans||Win, 41-36|
|2005||St. Louis||Loss, 27-20|
|2004||at Green Bay||Loss, 33-27 (OT)|
|1988||at Houston||Loss, 23-20 (OT)|
|1984||L.A. Raiders||Win, 13-7|