BRANDON GUSTAFSON

Takeaways: How Seahawks impressed vs Jets in must-win game

Jan 1, 2023, 5:54 PM | Updated: 6:07 pm
Seahawks Tyler Mabry...
Jake Curhan and Tyler Mabry of the Seattle Seahawks celebrate after a touchdown against the New York Jets. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

The Seahawks got a much-needed 23-6 win Sunday over the New York Jets not only to snap a three-game losing streak, but to keep their playoff hopes alive entering next week’s season finale against the Los Angeles Rams.

Seahawks Instant Reaction: Playoff hopes alive after 23-6 win over Jets

Seattle started fast, jumping out to an early 17-6 lead at halftime and holding on from that point onward. And it was a different-looking game for the Seahawks for a number of reasons.

Let’s dive into why Seattle came away with a Week 17 win.

Defense stays strong, pass rush comes alive

The Seahawks may have lost last week to the Kansas City Chiefs, but their defense turned in one of its better performances of the season against the NFL’s best offense.

Seattle carried that over against a struggling Jets offense, holding New York to 279 total yards and just 75 yards on the ground. Additionally, the Hawks were able to secure three turnovers as Quandre Diggs recorded his third interception of the year, Michael Jackson got the first pick of his career and Darrell Taylor forced a fumble at the end of the first half.

The pass rush was definitely a standout point for the Seahawks, with the defensive line recording four fumbles and 10 quarterback hits.

“We had 10 hits today, which is really big time,” head coach Pete Carroll said.

The two players who stepped up the most for Seattle’s pass rush were Taylor and Quinton Jefferson.

Taylor recorded 2.5 sacks and three QB hits, giving him 8.5 sacks this year, a new career high.

“He’s finding himself,” Carroll said of the third-year linebacker. “He’s still learning. He’s still young at this position. And he’s got such great burst and he runs the edge so well. That’s what he always needs to feature in his approach … He’s really getting on the edge well and doing a great job.”

Jefferson was also a fixture Sunday in New York’s backfield, recording 1.5 sacks, two tackles for loss and three quarterback hits.

Tight ends come while star receivers take backseat

The Seahawks have one of the best receiver tandems in the NFL in DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. It was unclear if Lockett would play after having hand surgery about two weeks ago, and while he did suit up, the duo combined for just three catches on seven targets for 18 yards.

Pro Bowl quarterback Geno Smith didn’t have a big game either as he completed 18 of 29 passes for 183 yards, but Seattle still had success through the air. That’s because Smith found the Seahawks’ tight ends in a big way, especially early in the game.

“We needed them today,” Carroll said. “That just kind of happened today. It was one of those days and was not by intention at all, just the way the game went.”

Third-year tight end Colby Parkinson, who ranks third in receptions and yards for Seahawks tight ends this year, led the team in receptions against the Jets with five, including when he found the end zone on Seattle’s first drive of the game.

Later in the first quarter, Smith found a different tight end for a score.

No, not Noah Fant, but instead Tyler Mabry, a recent practice squad promotion who was added to the roster for Sunday’s game after veteran tight end Will Dissly was placed on injured reserve.

Mabry, a 2020 undrafted free agent, played in parts of six games last year for the Seahawks, but that included just 22 snaps on offense, per Pro Football Reference.

Smith found Mabry in the end zone in the first quarter for not only Mabry’s first career touchdown, but his first career reception.

“The coolest thing about that is the way the guys reacted,” Carroll said. “He’s been here a long time and been waiting for an opportunity like that to get in the end zone. The guys were crazy about it (both on the field and in the locker room).”

“Everyone loves that guy,” Parkinson said after the game. “He’s a great part of our team and everybody was really fired up for him.”

Walker, run game pick up from last week

During the Seahawks’ four-game win streak partway through the season, they were running the ball extremely effectively with rookie Kenneth Walker III leading the way. But as the Seahawks lost four of five before last week’s loss in Kansas City, the run game effectively disappeared.

Walker and Co. were able to get going in the second half against the Chiefs, however, and they carried that over to this week against the Jets. Right away, in fact, as Walker rushed for 60 yards on Seattle’s first offensive snap of the game.

He ended the day with 133 rushing yards on 23 carries. That makes it back-to-back 100-yard rushing games for Walker and four 100-yard games for him this season.

Overall, the Seahawks ran the ball 38 times for 198 yards, the team’s third-highest rushing total of the year.

No. 2 back DeeJay Dallas also had a nice game, totaling 98 total yards on 10 touches. He led the Seahawks in receiving yards with 55.

Guys filling in

The Seahawks had a number of players playing more than usual due to injuries to others.

As noted, Mabry played in place of Dissly, and that also led Parkinson to have a fairly large role against the Jets.

Usual strong safety Ryan Neal was out, leading to Johnathan Abram making his first start for the Seahawks. He had five tackles and a pass breakup on the day.

Second-year offensive tackle Stone Forsythe was thrust into a starting role as rookie right tackle Abraham Lucas was inactive because of a knee injury.

“Stone Forsythe did a nice job today,” Carroll said. “He did really well.”

Forsythe played quite a bit last week versus the Chiefs when Lucas got hurt, and Carroll has been pleased with his play overall these last two weeks.

“That’s two good games in a row for him, and we’re really, really pleased about that,” he said.

And then there was linebacker Tanner Muse, who had to play when starting inside backer Jordyn Brooks injured his knee and was promptly ruled out for the rest of the day. That injury also made fellow inside linebacker Cody Barton the team’s defensive playcaller, which is typically Brooks’ role.

“I thought they did pretty well,” Carroll said of that duo. “Passing game and running game, I thought they did well. It’s great to see Tanner have that much playtime. I hate the reason why, but Cody went right to (the MIKE spot) and Tanner jumped up and away we went. So it was a really nice answer.”

Injury report

Carroll said it’s unclear if Lucas or Neal will be able to play next week against the Rams, but he seemed more optimistic when asked about Lucas.

As for Brooks, the third-year linebacker will get imaging done on his knee, and the team doesn’t know the severity at this point.

Phil Haynes, who rotates with Gabe Jackson at right guard, has what Carroll described as a “legitimate” ankle sprain.

Lockett came out of the game in the second quarter and went to the locker room early. He then didn’t return to the sideline until partway through the third quarter before returning to the game at the start of the fourth quarter.

That wasn’t due to his hand, which Carroll said was “no issue” in the game. Instead, Lockett injured his leg against the Jets.

“Tyler got banged on his right, lower leg in the game, and it just just bothered him. He tried to get warm, tried to get loose, so he stayed in (the locker room) to do that,” Carroll said. “And then he came back and got on the field again.”

Lockett was held out at the very end of the game, but Carroll said that was because of next week’s important regular season finale.

What’s next for the Seahawks?

The Seahawks remain firmly in the playoff hunt but will need some help to get to the postseason as a wild card team.

Thanks to Sunday’s win over the Jets, the Seahawks enter Week 18 with an 8-8 record. They’ll need a win over the Rams in Seattle and a Green Bay Packers loss or tie with the Detroit Lions at home at Lambeau Field to clinch the NFC’s seventh and final playoff seed.

If the Seahawks win and the Lions beat the Packers, Seattle and Detroit would both be 9-8. The Hawks beat the Lions earlier this year and would thus get in thanks to a tiebreaker. If the Seahawks win and the Packers tie, the Seahawks would be the only team of those three with nine wins and would thus secure that final spot.

For more details on Seattle’s playoff hopes, check out the link below.

State of Seahawks’ playoffs chances, where pick from Broncos sits

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Takeaways: How Seahawks impressed vs Jets in must-win game