BRANDON GUSTAFSON

More late-drive magic vaults Seahawks into a playoff spot

Dec 24, 2023, 1:51 PM | Updated: 2:01 pm

Seattle Seahawks...

Colby Parkinson of the Seattle Seahawks celebrates after a touchdown on Dec. 24, 2023. (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

(Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

The Seattle Seahawks looked listless on offense for nearly all of the game, but a long touchdown drive late in the fourth quarter gave them a much-needed late-season win.

Seahawks 20, Titans 17 | Reaction | Big Plays | Stats

No, this isn’t a recap of last Monday’s win over the Philadelphia Eagles. It happened again, this time in Tennessee.

And this week’s win doesn’t just get the Seahawks back over .500 at 8-7, but they now hold a playoff spot thanks to the victory and some help from a familiar team.

First, the comeback.

Seattle Seahawks can win in the fourth quarter

The Seahawks, much like last Monday against the Eagles, did not move the ball well against the Titans. The run game struggled to find its footing, and despite Geno Smith returning to the starting lineup for the first time in three weeks, the Seahawks didn’t have a great game offensively and entered the end of the fourth quarter down 17-13.

The Seahawks were in the same spot six days before.

Down 17-13 to the Eagles, Drew Lock led the Seahawks on a 92-yard touchdown drive, capped off by a deep score by rookie Jaxon Smith-Njigba. After that, Julian Love recorded his second interception of the game to seal the deal for Seattle.

This week, Smith and the Seahawks got the ball back with 3:21 to go and needed 75 yards to get a touchdown and take a late lead. They did just that.

Smith saved his best ball for last statistically, completing 7 of 10 passing attempts for 57 yards and a third-and-goal touchdown pass to big tight end Colby Parkinson.

During Lock’s heroic drive last week, his go-to guy was DK Metcalf, who caught three passes for 58 yards to help drive the Seahawks down the field.

Smith got major contributions from Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Tyler Lockett on Seattle’s game-winning drive Sunday, with Lockett catching three passes for 27 yards and three first downs while “JSN” caught three for 25 yards. Metcalf also drew a pass interference penalty that moved the Hawks to Tennessee’s 5-yard line and set up Parkinson’s touchdown.

Seattle’s defense also came up big late this week, with Boye Mafe recording a sack to use up Tennessee’s last timeout and Dre Jones picking up a sack of his own to help bleed the clock near the very end of the game.

Second-year cornerback Riq Woolen, who has struggled with tackling and physicality this season, also had a big moment at the end, recording a tackle that kept the clock rolling and ended the game.

Playoffs?

It’s been a roller-coaster season for the Seahawks, who after a 5-2 start had lost five of six, including four in a row, entering last week’s game against the Eagles.

While neither win was pretty, Seattle has won back-to-back games for the first time since late October when the Seahawks beat Arizona and Cleveland.

Those two wins have the Seahawks sitting at 8-7 with two weeks remaining. Seattle hosts Pittsburgh next Sunday and ends the season in Arizona for Week 18.

This week’s win also helped put the Seahawks back in the playoff picture, as they now hold the No. 7 seed in the NFC. According to NFL.com, Seattle’s playoff odds sit at 65% with two games to go.

The Seahawks needed help to get back into the playoff picture on top of winning their own game. That help came in the form of a Christmas Eve gift from the Detroit Lions, who held on for a 30-24 win over the Minnesota Vikings.

The Vikings, like the Seahawks, entered the weekend at 7-7. But the Vikings had a tiebreaker edge over the Seahawks and were the NFC’s No. 7 seed before facing the Lions.

The Lions had a chance to put the game away late but couldn’t, and the Vikings made it close thanks in part to a third-and-27 conversion to Justin Jefferson. But quarterback Nick Mullens was picked off a few plays later, giving Detroit the win and the NFC North crown while pushing the Vikings to 7-8, letting the Seahawks vault Minnesota for the NFC’s final playoff spot.

It’s not the first time the Lions have helped the Seahawks in the last calendar year.

In Week 18 of last season, the Seahawks needed a win over the Los Angeles Rams themselves and a Lions win over the Green Bay Packers to make the playoffs at 9-8. Seattle beat LA in the afternoon, and Detroit went to Green Bay and pulled off the upset on Sunday Night Football, clinching the Seahawks a playoff berth.

If the season ended today, the San Francisco 49ers would be the No. 1 seed in the NFC and hold a first-round bye. The Seahawks as the NFC’s lowest playoff seed would either go to Detroit to take on the Lions or go to Dallas and face the Cowboys. Either game would be a rematch for the Seahawks, who beat the Lions in overtime 37-31 in Week 2 and lost a 41-35 shootout to Dallas in Week 13 as part of a four-game losing streak.

If Seattle pulled off the upset, then the Hawks would get a rematch with the 49ers, who have won each of the last five games over the Seahawks, including in the playoffs last year.

Bumpus: How Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll has impressed lately

Brandon Gustafson

Seattle Mariners Jorge Polanco...

Brandon Gustafson

Mariners are on pace to make MLB history — and not in a good way

After aiming to cut down on strikeouts, the Seattle Mariners are on a historically bad pace in that department this season.

2 months ago

Seattle Mariners...

Brandon Gustafson

Mariners struggle with new and similar problems in opening homestand

After a rocky 3-4 homestand to open the season, Brandon Gustafson dives into what's stood out for the Seattle Mariners to begin 2024.

2 months ago

Seattle Mariners George Kirby...

Brandon Gustafson

What’s the next step for Seattle Mariners’ George Kirby in 2024?

Scott Servais dove into what he's looking for from George Kirby in 2024 ahead of Kirby's first start of the year for the Seattle Mariners.

3 months ago

Seattle Mariners Mitch Haniger Dylan Moore...

Brandon Gustafson

Mariners Highs and Lows: What stands out from opening day loss

The Seattle Mariners fell to the Red Sox on opening day, and there were some takeaways – good and bad – to be had from the loss.

3 months ago

Seattle Mariners Julio Rodriguez...

Brandon Gustafson

Mariners Notebook: ‘Consistent pressure’ theme for lineup in 2024

Scott Servais expects big things from the Seattle Mariners' lineup in 2024, as he shared ahead of their opener against the Boston Red Sox.

3 months ago

Seattle Mariners Luke Raley...

Brandon Gustafson

Who 5 of Mariners’ biggest X-factors in 2024 are

The Seattle Mariners have starpower, but five other players can play key roles in the team's success in 2024, writes Brandon Gustafson.

3 months ago

More late-drive magic vaults Seahawks into a playoff spot