Takeaways: Seahawks’ pass rush shines in ‘must-win’ game against Packers
There is still more than a month remaining in the season, but the Seahawks’ game against the Packers Thursday night felt like a must-win. For all purposes, it was a must-win.
Lose and drop to 4-6, the Seahawks would have had to win every remaining game – including a Sunday night contest against the AFC-leading Chiefs in December – to finish with 10 wins and a chance at the postseason. And while a nine-win team could sneak in to the playoffs, in that instance Green Bay would have the tie-breaker over Seattle for an NFC Wild Card spot.
The Seahawks would be far from eliminated, but a loss would have given them an even longer road to the postseason. Like, a really long road. A long, windy road with downed trees and live power lines.
Instead, the Seahawks sit at 5-5 after the 27-24 win over the Packers. According to NFL Network’s Cynthia Frelund, Seattle’s playoff odds as a result of that improved record hover around 40 percent as opposed to dropping to 20.1 percent with a loss.
Here are a few of the biggest takeaways from Thursday night:
Seahawks’ pass rush gets 5 sacks of Rodgers
The Seahawks’ defensive front, headed by fourth-year defensive end Frank Clark, finished the night with five sacks of Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
These big plays came at pivotal times. For instance, a sack by rookie defensive end Rasheem Green with 9:03 remaining in the fourth quarter held the Packers to a field goal rather than building an eight-point lead. It also stymied a Packers offense that had just picked up steam with a 57-yard pass from Rodgers to wide receiver Davante Adams on third-and-9.
“To me, it showed that we play together,” Green said of Seattle’s defense. “That was the main thing, to just play together. When we play together, it’s hard to stop us.”
The fourth-quarter sack was the first of Green’s career.
“It was a great feeling,” he said. “Because I’m always out there, like, ‘Man, to get a first sack, that would be dope.’ And I finally got it, man, it was surreal.”
Of Seattle’s five sacks, two were by Clark alone and one each came from Green and fellow rookie Jacob Martin. Linebacker Austin Calitro, filling in for an injured K.J. Wright, split another with defensive tackle Jarran Reed.
Head coach Pete Carroll’s biggest knock came against the run defense.
“Boy, it didn’t seem like that,” Carroll said when asked about Seattle’s ability to hold the Packers to 48 yards on the ground. “I didn’t feel like we played a lot of stuff very well in the first half. I thought we were really kind of off our game. But the recognition goes to the coaches and the players to come back and get it right. We had a heck of a halftime… and the guys came through.”
A running start
The Seahawks finished the day with 173 net rushing yards, marking their seventh consecutive game of 150 rushing yards or more. Chris Carson led the way with 83 yards on 17 carries, followed by rookie Rashaad Penny, who had 46 yards on eight carries.
The bulk of Penny’s yards came on a first-quarter 30-yard gain that saw the rookie zig-zag back and forth across the field, break several tackles, and ultimately convert a first-and-long.
— NFL (@NFL) November 16, 2018
All five of the Seahawks’ losses this season have been by eight or fewer points. And despite Carroll’s emphasis on being able to finish a game, Seattle had been having issues doing just that.
“We understand that we’re not out of any game, regardless of what the score is,” wide receiver Tyler Lockett said after a loss to the Rams in Week 10. “I think the biggest thing is we’ve just got to figure out how to execute on some of those plays we went three-and-out on.”
The offense was 22 percent on third down in that game. On Thursday, Seattle improved to 40 percent. It also managed to bounce back from a 14-3 first-quarter deficit and – more importantly – secure a lead down the stretch.
The final scoring play by Seattle came on a pass from quarterback Russell Wilson to tight end Ed Dickson on third-and-9 with just over five minutes remaining.
A look ahead
The Seahawks will have their second-to-last road trip next Sunday, Nov. 25 when they travel to North Carolina for a 10 a.m. game against the Panthers.