STACY ROST

Rost’s Seahawks Takeaways: What we saw — and didn’t see — in win over Texans

Dec 12, 2021, 2:58 PM | Updated: 3:19 pm
Seahawks Tyler Lockett...
Seahawks WR Tyler Lockett celebrates after catching a TD pass in the second quarter Sunday. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
(Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)

The Seahawks’ playoff hopes remain alive thanks to their 33-13 win over the floundering Houston Texans.

Fast Facts: Seahawks’ win | Instant ReactionPenny breaks out

This is a game Seattle should have won, and it did, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t important takeaways from Week 14. Here’s what we saw, what we didn’t see, and what we’re waiting to see.

What we saw

A career day from Rashaad Penny

It wasn’t clear which running back would get the bulk of the carries Sunday, but it was clear that whoever did would have a chance at a big day against a Houston Texans defense that’s giving up an average of 144 rushing yards per game. The benefactor ended up being former first-round pick Rashaad Penny, who finished with a career-high 16 carries for 137 yards and two touchdowns.

A team-high in sacks for Darrell Taylor

Darrell Taylor got his sixth sack of the season, and would have had his seventh were it not for a costly third-down defensive holding call on Sidney Jones nullifying one of the times Taylor got to Texans quarterback Davis Mills. The 2020 second-round pick (who’s essentially a rookie after missing all of last year due to injury) has been a bright spot this season. Taylor leads all Seahawks defenders in sacks, and he’s seen that production rewarded with an increase in snap counts. After starting the season with around 34% snaps on defense and 50% on special teams, Taylor appeared in 51% of defensive snaps last week.

A phenomenal performance from one of the NFL’s more underrated WRs

Tyler Lockett finished with five catches for 142 yards and a touchdown, plus another reception for a successful two-point conversion.

This game puts Lockett at 1,023 yards on the season, which is his third consecutive 1,000-yard season. He had 1,054 yards in 2020 and 1,057 yards in 2019, and with four games left this season, there’s a good chance he sets a new career-high for single-season yardage in 2021. His feat also makes him just the second player in franchise history to record three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons, with Hall of Famer Steve Largent being the only other Seahawks receiver to do so (and he did it twice!).

Lockett isn’t an under-the-radar player. He appeared at No. 76 on this year’s Top 100 NFL Players list (up from 2019, when he made his debut at 98) and is Seattle’s 2021 Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee. He’s also a top 10 receiver in terms of total contract value (his is a four-year, $69 million extension signed in March). But even then, most Seahawks fans would tell you Lockett, who hasn’t been named an All-Pro or to the Pro Bowl since his 2015 rookie season as a returner, remains one of the more underrated receivers in the league – and it’s hard to argue they’re wrong.

“He’s just an amazing player,” Carroll said postgame. “Because of his connection with (Russell Wilson)… you put those two together with enough time to develop, this is what you see.”

• The better team letting its opponent hang around

The Seahawks let the Texans hang around, and they shouldn’t have with a team this abysmal. Did it keep Seattle from getting the win? No. Is it a problem? That depends. This was a four-win team facing a less than 3% shot to make the payoffs, so much of this season has already felt disappointing for players and fans.

The Seahawks eventually took a healthy 14-point lead in the fourth and finished with a 20-point victory, but a handful of penalties (including a holding call that negated a DK Metcalf touchdown) kept this one from being put away sooner. Seattle will need to clean those up before they face a sharper opponent in Week 15, the 8-4 Los Angeles Rams.

What we didn’t see

Turnovers

Seattle didn’t turn the ball over once, which isn’t just an improvement from last week when it committed three turnovers but should also be considered an accomplishment against a Houston defense that can boast about takeaways considering it’s pretty much the only thing it does well. The Texans entered the game with 14 interceptions and 15 forced fumbles this year.

A sack

A sack surrendered, that is. Russell Wilson has just eight games out of his 153 regular season starts where he hasn’t been sacks, and he has been sacked at least twice in every game this season. On Sunday, though, he managed to remain upright and protected against Houston. The Texans are one of the league’s worst defenses, but they do have more sacks than Seattle this season (led by Jonathan Greenard’s eight sacks), which makes Week 14 an especially good showing for the Seahawks O-line, particularly when combined with Penny’s 137 rushing yards.

What we’re waiting to see

Where’s Dee Eskridge?

The Seahawks’ top pick from the 2021 draft recorded his first NFL touchdown in a solid performance last week but had a much more quiet outing in Week 14. It didn’t end up mattering much – Lockett and Penny combined for 279 yards of offense and three touchdowns – but you’d love to see what the speedy Western Michigan standout looks like as the league closes out its final four weeks.

Can Rashaad Penny repeat this success?

Specifically against a defense that isn’t as abysmal against the run? Adrian Peterson didn’t play in this one, Chris Carson is done for the year, and Travis Homer was injured. With Alex Collins nursing a groin/abdomen injury, it sure would be a nice break for Seattle if Penny could suddenly tap into the version of himself that made Seattle draft him in the first round in 2018. He’ll have a harder challenge against the Rams next week, though.

Los Angeles may not be as stout on defense this year compared to last, but the Rams have given up 100 rushing yards in five of 12 games this season, and three of those games were to top 10 rushing offenses. That’s a stark contrast to the Texans, who have given up 100 rushing yards in all but two games this year.

If Seahawks retain Wilson, Carroll and Schneider, what must change?

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