The Seattle Seahawks defense comes up big as they seal the 10th win of the season in Washington.
It seems that whenever the Seattle Seahawks take on a Ron Rivera led team, the game comes down to the wire. During Rivera’s tenure with Carolina, whenever they met with the Seahawks, the games were always old school, physical style games that came down to the end. Well, Week 15 was no different. While Washington could not get their rushing attack rolling, they were able to find ways to move the ball down the field in the fourth quarter.
Down 5 with under two minutes, Washington was on the move looking to score for the third straight time and deliver an upset. But, it was the Seattle Seahawks defensive line that came up with two big plays at the end, sealing the victory. With Seattle’s resilience on full display, in a gritty win over Washington along with help from the Jets, the Seahawks are now back in first place in the NFC West.
Here are 5 takeaways from the playoff-clinching win on the road.
Efficient on 3rd down
Over the last month or so (outside of the Jets game), I’ve been critical of the Seahawks third down percentage. Ranking in the bottom half of the league, it was becoming concerning as the playoffs near. Against Washington, they were over 40% on 3rd down and while that is not great, it is promising. A large part of the 3rd down struggles in the past has been due to 3rd and longs. Whether it be sacks, penalties, or just a lack of rushing attack, the Seahawks would pin themselves against the walls.
Well, against Washington the run game was the motor that propelled this offense into the end zone. Because of the success of the run, the Seahawks found themselves in 3rd and short and were able to convert on most. Washington imposed a similar strategy to that of the Giants where they drop two safeties into coverage in an attempt to take away the big-time play down the field. While they were successful in doing so, they left themselves vulnerable to the run game and short routes.
The Seahawks took advantage of it for the majority of the game. In fact, that helped them convert on the 3rd downs. On most short 3rd downs, Seattle lined up in shout gun and handed it off to either Chris Carson or Carlos Hyde. The Seattle offensive line is built to be a better run-blocking group rather than passing group. We saw that on full display in the victory over Washington.
One important note to keep in mind moving forward for this Seattle offense is that 3rd downs will be make or break. More and more teams will incorporate the two high safeties into their strategy moving forward, especially in the playoffs. As a result, we are going to see more short yard routes for D.K. Metcalf and Josh Gordon. Tyler Lockett is very efficient at finding the soft spots in the zone or running by his man in man-to-man coverage. 12s should be confident about this Seahawks offense moving forward.