By Danny O’Neil
Everything is there for the taking.
That statement is as true for the Seahawks’ game on Sunday against the Giants as it for Seattle’s playoff positioning. No team has committed more turnovers than the Giants this season, and no team is closer to clinching the top playoff seed than the Seahawks.
So it’s all right there. Seattle must simply grab hold.
That hasn’t been a problem for the Seahawks. At least not this season. They have 28 takeaways, tied for second-most of any team in the league in what is a fulfillment of one of coach Pete Carroll’s primary directives for his team.
It’s all about the ball. It’s what he said as soon as he arrived as the Seahawks’ coach, and it’s a statistic that has served as a spectacularly accurate weathervane for this team’s success in his four seasons.
Since Carroll became coach, the Seahawks are 25-2 when they have more takeaways than turnovers and 4-15 when they commit more turnovers than they have takeaways. When Seattle is even in turnover margin, it is fittingly close to .500: 7-8.
Over the past four games, no one in the league has taken better care of the ball than the Seahawks. Their only turnover in that time came on Russell Wilson’s final pass attempt Sunday in San Francisco, a desperation heave that was picked off.
Turnovers also explain the Giants’ success this season – or more accurately, the lack thereof. Eli Manning has been the gift who keeps on giving. At least he has been for opponents, who’ve picked him off 20 times, most in the league.
That’s the kind of thing to whet the appetite of a Seattle defense that has had a harder time recently in taking the ball off opponents. Seattle forced two or more turnovers in each of its first eight games this season, but has done that only once in the last five.
That’s just part of what makes this weekend’s game such an incredible opportunity. The Seahawks can clinch the NFC West if they win at New York and the 49ers lose to Tampa Bay. However, even if San Francisco wins its final three regular-season games, the Seahawks will clinch both the NFC West and the top seed in the NFC playoffs by winning any two of their final three regular-season games.
It’s all right there, for Seattle to take it. They’ve just got to grab hold and refuse to let go.