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  • Writer's pictureDaniel Noriega

Week 16 Game Recap: SEA vs. LAR

Dec 30, 2020, 9:46AM PST

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This was by FAR the most satisfying win of the season. Not only did the Seahawks clinch their first division title since 2016, but they did so against the Los Angeles Rams, a team that has given Pete Carroll’s squads fits since McVay entered the league in 2017. For one, the Seahawks had the chance to prove that their defensive resurgence is certainly real, holding a Rams team that was averaging 24.6 PPG entering this week to just a measly 9 points. Despite being outpaced in nearly every offensive category, the Seattle defense held the Rams without a touchdown, including a well-recognized goal line stand.

Though Wilson and the Seahawks’ offensive struggles this past month have been well documented, even against subpar competition, they got a chance to illustrate that they can persevere when it mattered, much like in years past. The chance came against the league’s stingiest defense in yards allowed per game. Seattle’s final touchdown lasted 4 minutes and 29 seconds, consisted of 9 plays, covered 80 yards, and put the Seahawks up by 11 points with just 2:51 left in the game. It was refreshing to see the offense put the game out of reach after struggling to do so last week against Washington, not that the Seahawks defense needed any help today.

All in all, this was the statement game the Seahawks needed. Sure the Rams have their ups and downs but seeing an angry Sean McVay-led team come to Seattle after an embarrassing loss to the previously winless Jets was a scary thought. Despite it, Seattle proceeded to best Los Angeles in all three phases of the game as they took the NFC West crown that has eluded them since the beginning of the Rams relevancy in 2017.

Praise, Frustration, and Everything in Between

● Special Teams were once again excellent. BBK tackled the Rams kickoff returner, Webster, well short of the 25-yard line on the opening kickoff and Cody Barton forced a fumble on a punt return. Dickson had another terrific day, pinning the Rams inside the 15-yard line on 4 out of his 5 punts, including punts of 56, 52, and 48 along the sideline. Myers remains perfect on field goals for the season and is a perfect 13-for-13 on field goals between 40-49 yards.

● The run game wasn’t necessarily bad, but it wasn’t great. Despite Penny and Hyde being healthy for the game, Carson dominated the team’s 24 carries with 16, 2 of them being Wilson scrambling, and 1 victorious kneeldown. Averaging 4.3 YPC, Carson had a fairly good day against a tough defense. Most of his carries went for 2-3 yards though he was able to break 3 for 10+ thanks to his hit-now-think-later running style. While the running game still isn’t what it could be, a fully healthy offensive line could be the boost it needs entering the post season where all teams that have clinched have a formidable rushing offense (Packers, Saints, Bucs). Fun fact, the Seahawks haven’t had a 100 yard rusher since week 15 of the 2019 season.

● The DK-Ramsey matchup wasn’t a thriller per se, but still fun to watch for fans of both athletes as their skills were put on display. While Ramsey didn’t necessarily press DK 1-on-1 the whole day, he had his eye on him for the majority of the game. Due to Ramsey’s presence, DK was targeted just once past 20 yards on a deep ball that sailed far over the 6’4 Pro Bowler. Still, when he was needed to, DK made his plays including a crucial 3rd down pick up in the middle of the field trucking the soul out of a Rams linebacker to get a first down. It was a change of pace to see DK and Ramsey exchange mutual respect for each other at the end of the game, as most of DK’s other marquee matchups against Gilmore and Slay have resulted in the players trash talking, and getting trashed.

● The Seahawks were surprisingly pass-heavy against a dominant Rams defensive line, with a pass-to-run ratio of 32-24, including three runs during Seattle’s last clock-killing possession. After not allowing Russell Wilson to be sacked in the past two games, the Seahawks offensive line allowed 5 sacks and 8 QB hits. A few of those sacks however can be attributed to Wilson, as he uncharacteristically and routinely ran into defenders while climbing the pocket all day. According to PFF, both guards graded poorly in pass protection, likely the result of trying to defend All-World Aaron Donald. Pocic has struggled at times but remains steady throughout the course of games in the middle. Damien Lewis still ranks 1st among rookie guards and 13th overall with a 71.7 grade on PFF. Brown, a Pro Bowl snub, also continues his stellar year ranking 6th among all tackles this season with an 86.8.

● Colin Cowherd from The Herd put it perfectly in his 3-word analysis of the game: “Just 2 drives”. In a day mired with yet another sluggish offensive performance, Wilson didn’t exactly have himself the MVP performance us fans have longed for since October, but made plays when it counted while facing a top-3 defense. A defense that in its last 3 games, was touting a 36.36% opponent red zone scoring percentage and a 3rd-best 19.3 points allowed per game. Wilson was also able to snap his 3-game interception/turnover streak. Much like the Philly game, all Wilson needed to do Sunday was lead 2 good drives and play turnover-free football.

● On the flip side, Wilson did show flashes of his early season form, particularly on the scramble throw to Moore. Fans were frustratingly puzzled why Wilson didn’t run for the wide open 10+ yards. Memories of the red zone interception against the Rams earlier this year were flashing. Against all odds, the 45 yard completion was the longest play of the game for both sides. Per Next Gen Stats, Wilson was running at 14.46 mph before airing the ball that had a 26% chance of completion. It was also Wilson’s longest passing play since Week 12, making it a sight for sore eyes. The key play eventually went on to set up the first of Seattle's two sole touchdown drives on the day

● The goal line stand made by the Seahawks on the Rams 7 minute long during the 3rd quarter was one of the most memorable moments for the season, much like the Patriots game. This goal line stand ultimately proved to be the silent killer for the Rams as they were unable to generate anything after the fact. Statistically, the Seahawks sit at a 63.46% chance of letting their opponents score a touchdown in the red zone. Starting with a heroic across the field chase down tackle from Adams, Seattle defended every blade of grass. Great play recognition by the rookie Brooks and little known defensive tackle Bryan Mone were key as they both showed their strength repeatedly stuffing the runs to the right side of the line of scrimmage.

● After good performances against subpar offenses led by backups and soon to be backup quarterbacks, the defense had its first outing against an underrated Rams offense. While the defense didn’t have an amazing game, the only statistic that truly mattered at the end of the day was that they only allowed 9 points, the 2nd lowest all season. Jared Goff’s lack of confiend was evident, thanks to 3 sacks by Alton Robinson and Jarran Reed, a handful of quarterback hits by Adams and Mayowa, and 24 total pressures. It's well known that Goff thrives off play action and a clean pocket, as most big quarterbacks do, but because of the pressure coming his way late in the game when the Rams put the ball in his hands he simply couldn’t deliver. Ken Norton Jr. was almost daring them to try and pass.

● Adams has been integral to this defense's success. The heart and passion he shows for the game radiates from himself to the rest of the team and it shows on the field. Adams declared on Sunday for the press that he believes the Seahawks are the best defense in the league. While that statement might be a stretch, It speaks volumes to the confidence that he has for the guys around him. After earning himself a Pro Bowl nod, a record for most sacks by a defensive back with 9.5 and incoming All-Pro season, it's safe to say that the Adams project has worked so far in Seattle. So much for not knowing how to use him.

Next on Deck: Season Finale (not) in San Francisco

While the outcome of Seattle’s Week 17 bout with the 49ers will likely not have any effect on playoff seeding, the Seahawks do still have an outside shot at a first-round bye, assuming the following:

1) Seattle beats San Francisco AND

2) Green Bay loses to Chicago AND

3) New Orleans loses to Carolina

It’s highly unlikely that BOTH the Packers and Saints lose, but the simple fact that a chance remains means the Seahawks need to win in Week 17. Seattle can also move into the No. 2 seed if either the Packers OR the Saints lose in Week 17, as the Seahawks hold the common games tiebreaker over Green Bay and would have a better record than New Orleans. Holding the No. 2 seed would ensure Seattle plays a home game in the Divisional Round. With the Bears needing a win to keep their playoff hopes alive, keep your fingers crossed.

The 49ers are a very hard team to figure out. One on hand, they’ve been decimated by injuries, including numerous Pro Bowlers on IR, but they’ve also swept the Rams this season and most recently defeated the Cardinals 20-12. The 49ers have also lost to Washington and Dallas, including allowing 41 points to the Andy Dalton-led Cowboys. While the 49ers have nothing to play for at 6-9, they’ll still likely take pride in defeating their rivals, the Seahawks. Expect a tough divisional game next week despite the 49ers missing their top-2 WRs, Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk.

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