STACY ROST

Rost: What stands out after Seahawks get back over .500

Dec 26, 2023, 9:35 AM | Updated: Dec 27, 2023, 11:25 am

Seattle Seahawks JSN Jaxon Smith-Njigba...

Jaxon Smith-Njigba of the Seattle Seahawks reacts after a play against the Tennessee Titans on Dec. 24, 2023. (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

(Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

The Seattle Seahawks gave their fans the best gift they could this weekend: a win against the Titans and a boost to their playoff hopes.

More late-drive magic vaults Seattle Seahawks into playoff position

Sure, you may be a fan hoping this team, one with many holes to fill and problems to solve, will miss the playoffs and end up with better draft stock. But you know what’s more fun than sitting at home in January? Watching playoff football. And Seattle improved its chances of doing just that with their win and the Vikings’ loss in Week 16.

Here’s what’s sticking with me after this one.

Comeback Kids

A stat to love, per Seahawks PR: Seattle is the third team since 1970 with four-game winning touchdowns in the final two minutes of regulation or in overtime in a single season (the 2012 Seahawks are another of those teams).

Another one, per Alex Mayer of Mariners baseball information: The Seahawks are the first team since the 2001 Eagles to have comeback game-winning drives engineered from different quarterbacks in consecutive weeks (last week’s win over the Eagles from Drew Lock, and this week’s over the Titans from Geno Smith).

The Seahawks had two touchdown drives in the fourth quarter against the Titans. Over their last two fourth quarters, they have 14 first downs, 199 net yards, and are 6 for 9 (66%) on third down.

The good news here is that Seattle has found a way to win when it matters most over its last two contests — a much-needed course correction after a four-game losing streak. And I don’t want to take away from that, because clutch factor matters. But they can’t afford to be anemic for long stretches against better teams.

Now frankly, at least this season, the Seahawks just aren’t as good as the league’s best. But they have enough talent offensively to do better than their one total first down against the Eagles in the first quarter last week, or the three quarters they spent out of the end zone in Tennessee.

It won’t get much easier against Pittsburgh this Sunday, but in Week 18 the Seahawks will see an Arizona defense that is allowing the fifth-most points in the first quarter.

Running out of time

If I asked you what a Pete Carroll-led Seahawks team would want to look like, the answer would be easy: you’d tell me they want to run the ball, make explosive pass plays, stop the run, and play physical defense. Unfortunately, Seattle hasn’t been able to do it consistently this season.

They’re 29th in rushing yards per game (90.3), better only than the Bucs, Raiders and Bengals. Meanwhile, they’re allowing the sixth-most rushing yards per game (129.6). It’s not been a trend in every game, but it was certainly the case against the Titans.

Kenneth Walker III had 54 yards on 16 carries, but take out a long of 24 and he had just 2.1 yards per carry. All other rushers combined for four yards on four carries.

Defensively, the Seahawks allowed 162 rushing yards by Tennessee, including 10 first downs converted on the ground. The Titans’ longest play of the game was a 23-yard scramble from quarterback Ryan Tannehill on third-and-11.

The Seahawks made improvements against the run their offseason focus and looked to have made progress this year, but it hasn’t been showing up enough. That said, much like with first-half scoring, there are opportunities ahead. The Cardinals are allowing a league-worst 147 rushing yards per game. That’s not without another test, though; that same Arizona team is a top-10 rushing offense — better right now than Philly, Cleveland and Dallas.

More on the Seattle Seahawks

Instant Reaction: Seahawks come through in must-win game vs Titans
Recap: Geno Smith rallies Seahawks in fourth to beat Titans 20-17
The Big Plays: Geno’s turn — late TD lifts Seahawks over Titans 20-17

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Rost: What stands out after Seahawks get back over .500