Seahawks saw a future without Bobby Wagner, and it was ugly

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA - DECEMBER 15: Bobby Wagner #54 of the Seattle Seahawks (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA - DECEMBER 15: Bobby Wagner #54 of the Seattle Seahawks (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) /

The Seahawks came through with the win they needed to clinch the playoffs. They also got a glimpse of just how tough life could be without Bobby Wagner.

Seattle did what they had to do in Carolina Sunday, thank heavens. Despite the fact they went into the contest down four starters on defense, the Seahawks kept the Panthers in check for most of the game. The good guys led 30-10 with 7:18 left in the game. Within minutes, the game went off the rails and the Hawks had to hold on for a typical gut-clenching win. All because Bobby Wagner was off the field.

On the Panthers second play after the Seahawks extended the lead, Wagner twisted his ankle. You could hear the collective gasp of the 12s all over Seattle as he lay on the turf. Happily, he made it off on his own power. After the game, Wagner even joked that he’d heal much faster if everyone marked their Pro Bowl ballot for him. Unfortunately the Hawks defense was no laughing matter for those last seven minutes.

In two minutes and twenty seconds, Kyle Allen drove his team 75 yards, the final play a 15-yard touchdown run by Christian McCaffrey. The Hawks couldn’t move the ball and had to punt for the fourth time. Allen reprised his best Russell Wilson imitation, this time driving the Panthers 84 yards for the score. Thankfully, the Hawks got it together on their final drive as both Wilson and Chris Carson made key plays to ice the game. That was very nearly a nightmare finish for Seattle, instead of a win that saw them take back the overall number one seed in the NFC.

This is hardly the first time the Hawks have suffered without their All-World linebacker in the lineup. Last year, Wagner missed one game. Seattle lost to Chicago, 24-17. In 2015, Wagner had to sit out game six, against these same Carolina Panthers. The Seahawks lost, 27-23. 2014 was rough, as he missed five games in the middle of the season. Wagner was hurt in the first half against Dallas, and although he continued playing, he was slowed by what was later diagnosed as turf toe. Seattle lost four games that year, and Wagner was either out or injured for three of those losses. He also missed two games in 2013, but the Hawks pulled off wins in both contests.

I think you can see the pattern, right? Bobby Wagner has missed nine games in his career, and Seattle is just 5-4 without him, 5-5 counting the Dallas game when he was at about half-speed. the Hawks are 71-35-1 with him in the lineup. That’s a winning percentage of .668 with Wagner and .556 without him. It’s a small sample size of course, but with him Seattle on average is an 11-5 team. Without him, they’re 9-7 at best. That’s basically the difference between making the playoffs and sitting at your house.

Next. Chris Carson is the Juggernaut!. dark

It’s funny to think that some people actually thought there was a decision to be made between extending Wagner or Jarran Reed. I get to say that, because I’m the one who asked the question in this particular instance. For once I came up with the right answer. It’s BWags all day long, if you want to win. No knock on Reed, but there aren’t too many defenders that can give your team a two-game edge. The Hawks got a huge reprieve Sunday when Wagner was able to walk off the field under his own power.