STACY ROST

The Next Day: How Seahawks got big win, boosted playoff hopes

Dec 19, 2023, 10:10 AM

Seattle Seahawks...

Kenneth Walker III of the Seattle Seahawks runs for a touchdown on Dec. 18, 2023. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

The Seattle Seahawks’ playoffs odds took a massive swing following their upset win over the Philadelphia Eagles in primetime.

‘He deserved it’: Seattle Seahawks rally around Lock, who delivers epic game-winner

Per ESPN analytics (credit to ESPN’s Brady Henderson for pointing this out on our show Monday afternoon), Seattle’s playoff odds would’ve fallen to a dismal 16% with a loss. They wouldn’t have been eliminated, but they would be staring at an uphill battle to get into the postseason, plenty of finger-pointing and frustration, and frankly, fair or not, probably some calling for jobs.

But they didn’t lose. With that win, their odds have increased to 57%.

It doesn’t clinch a spot. It may not even make every fan more comfortable. But it’s a heckuva lot better than the alternative.

Win out, and you’re looking at a 10-7 team with a good shot to punch their playoff ticket (an effort made easier with losses by the Vikings and Packers this past week).

Here’s what’s sticking with me the morning after a big Seahawks win:

Third-down improvements

Defensively, Seattle still struggled here, allowing the Eagles to convert 9-of-16 attempts (56%). But a Seahawks offense that had been averaging the sixth-worst conversion rate in football (34%) saw a bump there, converting 6-of-14 (43%). Still more impressive was how some of those were converted, including two for touchdowns:

3-10: 13-yard pass to Jaxon Smith-Njigba
3-1: Ken Walker 23-yard touchdown run
3-10: 34-yard pass to DK Metcalf
3-10: 29-yard touchdown pass to Jaxon Smith-Njigba

Re-focusing on the run

During his pre-game interview with Steve Raible, general manager John Schneider said something fans and reporters had heard plenty of this season: they’d like to run the ball more.

And they need to. Not just because of a rain-soaked field, but because a team that wants to run the ball was 28th in rushing yards per game entering this contest.

So, it was a bit confusing then when Seattle entered halftime with just 26 yards on nine carries (2.9 yards per carry). Time of possession was heavily swayed toward Philadelphia (18:56 to 11:04) but Seattle had failed to establish much of a run game at all.

Call it a pep talk, call it half-time adjustments, or call it a newfound fire, but Seattle came out swinging (and by that, I mean running) in the third quarter. Taking advantage of mismatches and a thin linebacker group, the Seahawks offense punched their way down the field for a 75-yard touchdown drive, with running back Ken Walker accounting for 55 yards. He broke tackles, made players miss, got some key blocks from Damien Lewis, Colby Parkinson, and Drew Lock (!), and capped it all off with a 23-yard touchdown run.

“I feel like we just executed,” Walker said of the third quarter after the game. “That’s what we need to do. We need to trust the run game. I feel like we did that tonight.”

DK Metcalf malice

DK Metcalf is an emotional player. He doesn’t hide that, and for some fans it’s a bit too much.

That’s fine. When he gets into it with an opponent or draws a foul and you start to complain to friends about why Seattle values him so much, look back on that drive (and also know that, as with any player, his on-field personality isn’t reflective of the person as a whole). Because make no mistake: The Seahawks don’t get that game-winning touchdown without unbelievable play from Metcalf.

The Ole-Miss star accounted for three of Lock’s five completions: one to convert second-and-10 (18 yards), a wacky catch to convert second-and-5, and an improbable sideline grab to convert third-and-10.

“I thought the completions to DK were amazing,” Pete Carroll said postgame when asked about Lock’s drive. “One up the middle he ripped. When he was tightly covered, for DK to make that catch in such a crucial situation. The throw was low, contested, all of that. Fantastic play.”

More on the Seattle Seahawks

• Behind Lock’s game-winning TD for Seahawks was Geno’s support
• Seahawks Instant Reaction: A chaotic comeback beats Eagles
• Watch: Drew Lock leads Seahawks over Eagles with 92-yard TD drive

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