STACY ROST

Rost: What makes Seahawks’ surprising return to playoffs so sweet

Jan 9, 2023, 12:45 AM | Updated: 1:03 am

Seattle Seahawks Quandre Diggs...

Seahawks safety Quandre Diggs celebrates his overtime interception against the Los Angeles Rams. (Photo by Jane Gershovich/Getty Images)

(Photo by Jane Gershovich/Getty Images)

As a wise man and former Boston Celtic once said (and by that I mean screamed): Anything is possible!

Playoff-bound: What the Seahawks said after dramatic OT win

Even the Seahawks making the playoffs in their first year after moving on from Russell Wilson and Bobby Wagner. Even the recently-eliminated Lions upsetting the Packers at Lambeau to sweep Green Bay in the season series, giving the Seahawks a ticket to the postseason. Even the Seahawks stumbling to the playoffs while still holding a top-five draft pick.

Seattle is an imperfect team. There are problems to be solved and holes to be patched. The Seahawks don’t lean into risk or blow fans away with a high-octane offense. Despite the best version of their previous iteration – the one that helped the franchise to its first Lombardi Trophy – this isn’t a defense that strikes fear into the heart of opposing quarterbacks.

But they are an offense that did enough, a defense that did enough, and a team that did enough to surprise a league that had written them off months ago. And in the end, being good enough was all they needed.

Make no mistake – for all of their faults, the Seahawks had a season to be proud of. They have two 1,000-yard receivers (DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett) and a 1,000-yard rusher (rookie Kenneth Walker III). They have a fifth-round cornerback who set a franchise record for interceptions in a rookie season (Tariq Woolen). They found two promising rookie tackles (Charles Cross and Abraham Lucas) after years of struggling up front.

And quarterback Geno Smith stood tall in the shadow cast by a decade of Russell Wilson and found himself more than capable, breaking Wilson’s own record for passing yards in a season. Smith now owns the franchise record for single-season attempts (572), completions (399) and yards (4,282).

But the Seahawks were also swept by the lowly NFC South. Their defense was gashed on the ground far too often, allowing season-highs in rushing yards to a number of opposing halfbacks. After a hot stretch, they struggled offensively toward the end of the season, losing five of six before wrapping up the schedule with two must-win victories against struggling teams. It’s why this Saturday they head to Santa Clara as 10-point underdogs to the NFC West champion 49ers, a team that swept Seattle in the season series between the division rivals.

The last Seahawks team to make it to the Super Bowl was dominant. The last version to win left little doubt in the minds of football experts that they could throttle opponents. This team is not that. But in a season of low expectations, one where Seattle was thought to be focused on rebuilding rather than contending, this surprise feels sweeter. Even a little chaotic.

It wouldn’t be shocking at all to see the Seahawks fall to the league’s top defense in the NFC Wild Card round. But in a season of surprises, perhaps Seattle has another surprise left.

And rather than wring their hands over a quickly closing window or huge gamble yet to pay off, this time around Seahawks fans can be content to enjoy the ride.

Previously: Seahawks’ season a big success whether or not they make playoffs

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