Seattle’s record-setting win over Pittsburgh is the latest evidence that this season is shaping up a lot like 2012.
That year, Russell Wilson’s first, the offense did little to help through the first half of the season — relying on the defense to carry the way for the rookie quarterback. The unit held five of the first six opponents under 14 points, and Wilson did just enough to help keep the Hawks floating around .500.
But then things swung the other way around this time of the season, as the defense faltered and Wilson took over the offense and led the charge into the second round of the playoffs.
On Sunday, the defense gave up 538 yards to Pittsburgh and Wilson put together his most prolific passing day (345 yards and five touchdowns), and it looks like that 2012 pattern is repeating itself.
In 2012, the defense gave up fourth-quarter leads to Detroit and Miami as Seattle fell to 6-5 in Week 12. This year, the defense — with the help of an anemic offense — has failed to hold off Cincinnati, Carolina and Arizona in the fourth quarter, and Seattle is again 6-5.
The turning point in 2012 was a game in Chicago in which Wilson bailed out the defense, which again melted at the end, and led the Hawks to a 23-17 overtime win. The Hawks then went on a historic three-game run in which they blew out Arizona, Buffalo and San Francisco by an aggregate score of 150-30.
Just like 2012, the Seahawks are headed to play an NFC North team in Week 13 — and they really need a win against the Minnesota Vikings (8-3).
Wilson is on the hottest passing streak of his career, with eight TD passes and no interceptions in the past two games. In that 150-point run in 2012, he threw six TD passes and ran for three (all against Buffalo).
Wilson has seemed unfocused at times this season, leading to much speculation that his outside endeavors were messing with his football psyche, but the past two games he obviously has been lasered in. Doug Baldwin even said something about it after Wilson’s stellar game Sunday, tacitly confirming that even teammates have observed the lack of focus.
Wilson had his best game Sunday despite feeling worse than he ever has in Seattle — he had three IVs during the game as he fought some kind of illness.
Now, he needs to keep that focus and continue to lead the Hawks down the stretch.
In 2012, the Seahawks won their final five games. They were alive for the NFC West entering the season finale against St. Louis, and Wilson scored the winning TD with 1:39 left to give Seattle an 11-5 record. But San Francisco beat Arizona to clinch the division, and the Seahawks were off to Washington to play a wild-card game. The season ended the next week in Atlanta — despite a stellar second-half rally by Wilson.
This Seattle team seems to be on a similar trajectory. After this tough game in Minnesota, the Seahawks will play three very winnable games against teams that are a combined 9-22 — at Baltimore (removed from “Sunday Night Football”), vs. Cleveland and vs. St. Louis — before finishing at Arizona.
The Seahawks can probably afford to drop one game — a 10-6 record likely will be enough to make the playoffs this season — but they will be better off if they finish it the way they did in 2012: by winning out.
Seattle’s 2012 season ended in Atlanta when the defense failed to preserve a 28-27 lead in the final 30 seconds after Wilson had set a team record with 385 passing yards and rallied the Hawks from a 20-0 deficit in the divisional playoff game.
These Hawks look a lot like that 2012 team — Wilson is getting hot and picking up the slack for the defense. Can they run the table again to get into the playoffs? And, if they repeat that run, can they make it a step farther than they did in 2012, getting back to the NFC title game for a third straight year?
Jimmy Graham is out for the season with a torn patella tendon.
Wilson on playing despite feeling so crummy: “You always feel a little better when you win, especially on your birthday.”
Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse combined for five touchdown catches and showed that the Seahawks can win without Jimmy Graham (kind of like they did without Percy Harvin in 2013 and 2014).
Jeremy Lane had an eventful season debut. He should be a big boon to the defense the rest of the way.
Pete Carroll: “We feel like we got a win over a very, very good football team, and that’s why we take this one in high regard.”