DANNY ONEIL

O’Neil: Seahawks didn’t win so much as they survived against Panthers

Nov 25, 2018, 2:00 PM | Updated: 3:13 pm
The Seahawks won despite Christian McCaffrey's 237 total yards from scrimmage. (AP)...
The Seahawks won despite Christian McCaffrey's 237 total yards from scrimmage. (AP)
(AP)

The Seahawks bent, but they did not break.

This surprised me because I’m not one of those people who subscribes to the very idea that a defense can consistently bend without eventually breaking.

Takeaways from Seahawks’ win | 710 reacts | Recap | Photos | Stats

Yet the Seahawks did exactly that on Sunday in what might turn out to be their most significant regular-season victory of 2018. And while Sebastian Janikowski’s 31-yard field goal on the game’s final play gave Seattle a 30-27 victory, the Seahawks didn’t win this game so much as they survived.

Seattle survived the fact that Cam Newton completed every pass he threw in the first half and survived Christian McCaffrey gaining both 100 yards rushing and 100 yards receiving. The Seahawks survived being not only outgained by the Panthers, but having Carolina drive the ball inside the Seattle 20 on seven of nine possessions in the game.

And while Russell Wilson deserves a lot of credit for the guts he showed with a pair of fourth-quarter completions that were as gutsy as they were aggressive, the key to understanding how Seattle won this game is to understand exactly how the Seahawks stayed afloat through the first three quarters of a game in which the Panthers were parading up and down the field.

This Seattle defense has alligator blood, to borrow an expression from Teddy KGB in “Rounders.”

Seattle kept hanging around, and on Carolina’s final possession cornerback Tre Flowers made one last tackle on third-and-7, which forced the Panthers to settle for a 52-yard field goal attempt, which Graham Gano pushed to the left.

And while that opened the door for Seattle’s game-winning field goal, the reality is that Seattle only had that chance because of what the Seahawks’ defense did when the Panthers came knocking earlier in the game.

The Panthers got the ball down to the Seattle 5 on their first possession before turning it over on downs. Carolina got it to the Seattle 4 on its second possession before the Panthers settled for a field goal. Throw in Bradley McDougald’s third-quarter interception in the end zone and you have a pretty tidy explanation for how the Seahawks kept the Panthers from cashing in the opportunities that should have given Carolina a cushion entering the fourth quarter.

That’s not to say the Seahawks’ defense played well. In fact, that defense hasn’t been playing all that well for a month now. Each of Seattle’s last three opponents averaged more than 7 yards per offensive play. The Panthers averaged 8.4 yards per play.

That is not a recipe for sustained success, and for all the times that defenses get praised for bending but not breaking, there’s not a lot of statistical evidence that points to that being a repeatable trait from week to week – and it is absolutely not something that translates from one year to the next.

Yet the Seahawks’ resiliency has made me rethink my belief that Seattle’s defense is going to finally give way. For all the yards the Seahawks have given up these past four weeks, they held the Chargers to a single field goal in the second half, then did the same to the Packers last Thursday. Then on Sunday the Seahawks dug in their heels when it mattered most and kept Carolina from cashing in all those red-zone opportunities.

Seattle survived, which is what will give this team a chance to thrive in the postseason.

Danny and Gallant Show

Danny ONeil

Seahawks Quandre Diggs...
Danny O'Neil

O’Neil: Seahawks have uncertainty with a player ‘holding in,’ but it’s not Quandre Diggs

While Quandre Diggs appears to be the third Seahawks player to "hold-in" during training camp, Danny O'Neil writes that it's Duane Brown whose future is up in the air.
1 year ago
Follow @dannyoneil...
Danny O'Neil

AZ Good AZ it Gets

SPONSORED – Phoenix was the place where the rest of the country found out that Seattle fans took their enthusiasm on the road with them. That was 2013. It’s also the place where I discovered how restorative a desert vacation can be. That was 2015. Let’s start with the screaming. That’s what caught everyone’s attention […]
1 year ago
Mariners Jarred Kelenic...
Danny O'Neil

O’Neil: Mariners aren’t handing the spotlight over to Seahawks just yet

This is the time of year that Seattle tends to shift its focus to the gridiron, but the Mariners are still commanding attention.
1 year ago
Seahawks Duane Brown...
Danny O'Neil

O’Neil: When Seahawks decide not to extend players, they’re rarely wrong

If you think the Seahawks must sign Duane Brown to an extension, when's the last time they opted against re-signing someone and it came back to bite them?
1 year ago
Follow @dannyoneil...
Danny O'Neil

Oh, LA, LA!

Week 15, Dec. 19: Seattle at Los Angeles Rams, SoFi Stadium, 1:25 p.m. Pacific SPONSORED – Maybe it was fitting that the opening act for the first pro-football game I covered in Los Angeles was a rock band I loved as a teenager. There’s no place that makes me think of growing up more than […]
1 year ago
Follow @dannyoneil...
Danny O'Neil

Star in a Lone Star Adventure

Week 14, Dec. 12: Seattle at Houston Texans, NRG Stadium, 10 a.m. Pacific SPONSORED – Enchiladas and greatness. That’s what I think of in Texas. The enchiladas are pretty straightforward. They’re so delicious at El Tiempo Cantina that it’s hard to take a bite without closing my eyes. There are three locations though the one […]
1 year ago
O’Neil: Seahawks didn’t win so much as they survived against Panthers