Week 12 Game Recap: SEA @ PHI
A lot of conversation this year has been centered around Seattle’s historically porous defense and rightfully so. Far too many times this season has Russell Wilson bailed out the Seahawks defense. This was not the case against the Eagles.
The Seahawks defense, by far, played their best game of the season. For most of the first half, the defense was suffocating, forcing FIVE consecutive 3 and outs to begin the game. The Eagles didn’t even register a first down until 4:46 left in the 2nd quarter and didn’t score until the final seconds right before the half, largely due to a BLATANT intentional grounding by Carson Wentz that went uncalled.
For the first time all season, the Seahawks defense played like a group capable of fulfilling Super Bowl aspirations rather than preventing them. The defense only allowed 250 total net yards, the first time they’ve allowed under 300 yards all season and including just 180 net yards passing. 17 points allowed were a season-low as well. If not for a miraculous one-handed grab off a deflection in the end zone by Richard Rodgers with 0:12 left in the game, the Seahawks defense would have held the Eagles offense to just 227 net yards, 147 net passing, and 9 points. The box score suggests that the Seahawks had a tough time defending the run, allowing 5.0 yards per carry, but this was largely skewed by Wentz’s 8.4 YPC on scrambles. The Eagles running backs combined for just 28 yards on 9 attempts, good for just 3.1 YPC.
The oft-criticized pass rush is largely responsible for the sudden defensive resurgence, as Carson Wentz was noticeably under pressure all game, leading to 6 sacks and 12 QB hits for the Seahawks. Entering Monday night, the Seahawks led the league with 4.3 sacks per game in the past 3 games. Carlos Dunlap has undeniably been the best trade acquisition so far this season (yes, better than the Jamal Adams trade), as the Seahawks now have a league-leading 19 sacks since Dunlap arrived in Seattle and are now tied for 7th in the NFL with 31 sacks this year.
Praise, Frustration, and Everything in Between
● It takes a village to rush the passer and boy did the villagers FEAST. Seven different Seahawks were involved in sacking Carson Wentz and no player had more than one. Eight different Seahawks registered a QB hit. Rasheem Green saw his first game playing significant snaps and registered a sack and a TFL. Poona Ford, despite not getting to the QB, accounted for 3 QB hits and a TFL. Jamal Adams added to his team-leading 6.5 sack total, despite missing four games due to injury. For a unit that still looks to add 2nd-round rookie Darrell Taylor to the mix, things are looking up for the Seattle defensive line pending Dunlap’s foot injury diagnosis.
● Miles Sanders entered the game with the 3rd highest yards per attempt behind only Kyler Murray and Nick Chubb with 5.6 YPA and Seattle's improved defensive front 7 held Sanders to just 2.5 yards a carry on his 6 carries. As aforementioned, the Eagles running backs as a whole only gained 28 yards on 9 attempts. Aside from Wentz scrambling for a team-high 42 rushing yards, the Seahawks defense stymied Philadelphia’s ground attack.
● Seattle’s longest-tenured positional group showed no signs of aging against the Eagles. Wagner looked spry running downfield with a much younger Dallas Goedert to break up a deep pass and KJ Wright batted down a pass on a pivotal 4th and 2 near midfield early in the 4th quarter. Yes, both linebackers have shown some signs of aging, but the two veterans rank 2nd (Wright) and 3rd (Wagner) on the team in passes defended. Additionally, Wagner currently ranks as PFF’s #1 out of 86 linebackers this season. Not bad for a 30-year-old “showing signs of regression”.
● After being nearly shut down the last two weeks by Peterson and Ramsey for a total of 74 yards, DK Metcalf had himself a star performance against a good cornerback (Darius Slay), catching 177 of Wilson’s 230 passing yards. DK continually embarrassed the supposed star corner “Big play Slay” with Carroll commenting, “We don’t care what they do...I wasn’t surprised”. Metcalf continues his rise to stardom and now leads the NFL in receiving with 1,039 yards. Metcalf has become the clear focal point of this offense moving forward.
● Cedric Ogbuehi was noticeably bad against a good Eagles pass rush, giving up 5 pressures on the day. The Seahawks have not had all 5 starting linemen play a full game in quite some time. Ethan Pocic was held out of the previous two contests with a concussion and Brandon Shell suffered an ankle injury last week against Arizona. Shell in particular has been an overlooked signing this offseason and is a major upgrade over Ifedi. Shell has been consistently on the border of ESPN’s top-10 in Pass Block Win Rate among offensive tackles. The offensive line kept Wilson clean for the most part, surrendering just 2 sacks and 7 QB hits against an Eagles pass rush that is tied for 2nd in the league with 36 sacks.
● Wilson continues his mid-season slump. Once again, he didn’t necessarily play a BAD game, yet the firepower on the offense seems to have regressed to a faintly lit flame. Russell is worthy of praise for being able to play turnover-free football in his last two games, yet his MVP campaign has been, in all likelihood, deterred as Rodgers and Mahomes have surpassed him in various statistical categories. Wilson has not surpassed 250 passing yards or thrown for more than two touchdowns since week 9 against the Bills.
● Despite the failed 4th down conversions, the Seahawks offense played a half-decent game against a very underrated and healthy Eagles defense who, despite their record, rank 13th in defensive DVOA. Going for it on 4th and short is supported by analytics and the Seahawks have been fairly successful on 4th downs entering Monday night. One hopes that the failure to convert will not deter Carroll from staying aggressive going forward.
● The Jason Myers hype continues. Myers hit on all three of his field goal attempts and notched another 2 extra points as he led Seattle in points and continued his hot streak of 25 made field goals, a Seahawks franchise record. Myers could be set to break another Seahawks record being Steven Hauschka’s 94.3 field goal percentage set in 2013 as Myers currently stands at 100% accuracy in that column. Myers also holds the franchise record for the longest field goal made at 61 yards.
● Finally, getting Carson and Hyde back on the field together proved to be only a slight difference in the contest. Hyde looked slow most of the night despite leading the team in carries with 15 for 22 yards and aside from Carson’s impressive 16-yard rumble for a touchdown, the Seahawks run game looked eerily similar to the Eagles. In Hyde’s defense, a large portion of his runs came in clock-killing mode against a stout Eagles run defense and he also had a 17-yard touchdown run called back on a holding penalty by Cedric Ogbuehi.
Next on Deck: The Big Friendly Giants
Seattle has now entered the easiest portion of their schedule, facing three teams with a combined win total equal to the Seahawks’ eight wins. Set to host the Giants this Sunday and the Jets the following week, the Seahawks should be able to get valuable resting time for injured starters Carlos Dunlap and Jarran Reed, both of whom were able to walk off the field under their own strength. The injuries should prove to bear meaningful snap increases for a resurgent Damon Harrison and an improving Rasheem Green.
Due to a Daniel Jones hamstring injury, Colt McCoy could make his 4th career start in the last 5 years on Sunday at Lumen field. Though Jones hasn’t played amazingly to date, he has led the Giants to a 3 win streak as they now sit atop the NFC East after narrowly losing to the Buccaneers in early November. In either case, the red hot Seahawks pass rush should feast on backup QB Colt McCoy or an immobilized Daniel Jones.
The Seahawks remain undefeated against the Giants in the Pete Carroll - Russell Wilson era at 4-0. Despite Seattle being heavily favored ahead of the contest, the Seahawks will inevitably find a way to make a dominating performance a one-score game.