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What Seahawks players are saying after Monday night victory

Seahawks DE Jadeveon Clowney forced a fumble and made three tackles while playing hurt. (Getty)

The Seahawks won their fifth straight game Monday night and now sit in prime position to get a first-round playoff bye.

Clayton: 10-2 Seahawks’ closeness stands out above everything

As it currently stands, the Seahawks are 10-2 and in second place in the NFC. Two other NFC teams are also 10-2 – the New Orleans Saints and the San Francisco 49ers.

The Saints beat the Seahawks in Seattle earlier this year and thus currently own the tiebreaker for the NFC’s top seed, and the Seahawks beat the 49ers in Week 10, meaning Seattle leads the NFC West while the 49ers are currently the NFC’s No. 5 seed. The Seahawks end the regular season with a home game against the 49ers that could determine the division and maybe a first-round bye and home-field advantage for the playoffs.

The Seahawks beat the Minnesota Vikings 37-30 at home on Monday night, and the Vikings are a likely playoff team at 8-4. Coming off the big primetime win, the Seahawks players were naturally fired up about the team’s hot play.

710 ESPN Seattle’s John Clayton talked to a few players in the locker room after the game to get their thoughts on the win.

Running back Rashaad Penny

Penny is having the best stretch of his young career.

The 2018 first-round pick out of San Diego State has rushed for more than 200 yards over the last two games, including 129 yards against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 12. He also has three touchdowns over those last two games.

He battled injuries to start last season and also was a little heavier than the team liked, but his weight is down and has played well over the team’s last two games. His emergence in the backfield now gives the Seahawks a nice one-two punch in the backfield.

Although Penny’s success means he is taking snaps and touches away from starting running back Chris Carson, he says the two have a very good friendship.

“As far as me and Chris, I’d never say anyone’s better than us because we’re competitors,” Penny said. “Just like me and him every day, we’re competitive. We compete every day, we fight every day. It’s a brotherhood. Everybody, like I said, thinks we’re supposed to hate each other. This is literally love in the backfield.”

That love was evidenced in the third quarter when Carson subbed himself out of the game close to the goal line so Penny had a chance to score on this play.

“I’m like, ‘What the heck, I never get the ball here,’ and that just shows you who he is,” Penny said of his fellow running back. “He’s spread the love and done an amazing job. I’m one of his biggest supporters … He’s a hard-nosed dude and I’m a big fan of that.”

The run game has clicked for Seattle over the last few weeks against some really good run defenses. Philadelphia was the fourth-best team against the run heading into Week 12 and Minnesota was sixth-best going into Monday night. The Seahawks rushed for 174 yards against the Eagles and 218 yards against the Vikings. So what’s been working?

“Just being able to use different type of scheme play calls,” Penny said. “Just moving the ball. I think that was the most important thing, and just having success on the ground and knowing we’re having success, and we shouldn’t stop going for it.”

One of Penny’s teammates echoed those statements.

Offensive tackle Duane Brown

Brown anchors the Seahawks’ offensive line and is a leader in the locker room. Despite playing some defenses who are very good against the run, he’s not surprised Seattle has been able to establish the running game.

“We feel like we can run the ball when we want to, it’s just a matter of how much you can do it throughout the game,” Brown said. “(Monday night), we were able to get that accomplished. It’s beautiful. To be able to run the ball like that this time of year is a great feeling.”

Brown said it was clear the Vikings’ defensive front was getting worn down from all the running plays.

“You could see them getting tired, see them getting a little frustrated,” Brown said. “(The coaches) kept dialing up the (running plays) and we always appreciate that, and we were just capitalizing.”

The offensive line is without starting center Justin Britt, who tore his ACL against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 8. Backup center Joey Hunt has stepped up and the line is playing pretty well over the last few weeks. Brown thinks the unit is peaking at the right time.

“We’re gelling. We’re really playing with great chemistry, great physicality,” Brown said.

Brown said the Vikings’ defense is impressive but Seattle’s game plan was the right one, which allowed Carson and Penny to thrive.

“It’s a testament to our backs as well. Chris and Rashaad played amazing,” Brown said. “But we knew what we wanted to get accomplished. We got some success early and we kept our foot on the gas and that was the main thing.”

Earlier this year, Brown was reunited with former Houston Texans teammate Jadeveon Clowney, the Seahawks’ star defensive end who the Seahawks traded for between the end of the preseason and Week 1. After missing last week’s matchup with the Eagles due to a hip/core injury, Clowney was back on the field on Monday. Brown said Clowney is a tough guy to do what he’s doing.

“(Clowney playing showed) a lot of heart, a lot of grit fighting through some significant stuff,” Brown said. “He loves ball, he loves to come out here and play for the team, try to produce for the team. He’s a disruptive guy (in the) pass game and run game. He’s a key part of our team and we’re very lucky to have him.”

Defensive end Jadeveon Clowney

Despite playing injured, Clowney was still able to make his presence felt against Minnesota. He had three tackles, including a tackle for loss, a quarterback hit and also forced a fumble.

“Just trying to give great effort out there and giving what I’ve got to my teammates and give them as much as I can out there,” Clowney said of playing injured. “It wasn’t the prettiest game for me, but I was able to make a few plays to help us win the game.”

Clowney said overall, he’s feeling OK.

“You feel it but you try not to pay it no attention and just keep playing through the pain and just keep playing and let the crowd carry you and your teammates,” he said. “All these games are playoff games from here on out. We know that and (we) just keep playing at a high level.”

Free safety Quandre Diggs

Clowney wasn’t the only defensive starter the Seahawks traded for this year, as Seattle acquired Diggs from the Detroit Lions before the NFL trade deadline.

After missing the first two Seahawks games after the trade with a hamstring injury, Diggs has made his presence felt. He had an interception against the 49ers, a forced fumble against the Eagles and has made some huge hits in all three games. Diggs said the big hits are a goal of his each week, like this one on Vikings tight end Irv Smith Jr.

“It just kind of takes the wind out of their sails. That’s my whole thing,” Diggs said. “If you go make a big play like that, you get everybody in the crowd energized, you get the team energized and you take the wind out of those guys’ sails. I need to do a better job of wrapping up also, but at the end of the day we got the win (Monday night) and got some things that we all need to fix.”

Diggs said the big hits are good for the entire Seahawks defense. Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll is a big fan of them as well.

“I’m just trying to come in and set the tone for these guys and help my guys get some energy,” Diggs said. “That’s what they brought me in to do and make plays and just go out there and just try to bring the energy as best as I can.”

Since Diggs started playing for the Seahawks, fellow safety Bradley McDougald’s play has improved as well. Diggs enjoys playing with McDougald.

“It’s a fun tandem. Me and him, we see things the same way and we do a lot of talking during the week so that definitely helps,” Diggs said. “It’s fun to have a guy beside me that I know is going to bring it each and every weekend that I’ve got a lot of respect for.”

Diggs described he and McDougald as being very versatile and feeding off each other’s play and energy.

“If I see (McDougald) make a play, I want to go make a play also,” Diggs said. “We celebrate together, we have fun together and at the end of the day it’s a brotherhood so I’m just excited to be here with him and the rest of these guys in the locker room.”

Next up for the Seahawks is another primetime matchup, this time a road game against the 7-5 Los Angeles Rams. The two teams squared off in Week 5 and the Seahawks won a 30-29 thriller. The Rams are fighting for a wild card birth, and a Seahawks win or tie would clinch a playoff spot.

Listen to Clayton interview Penny, Brown, Clowney and Diggs at this link or in the player below.

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