Three weeks ago, after Seattle lost a shootout against Arizona, the big question was not whether the Seahawks would win the NFC West but whether they would even rally to make the playoffs.
Two weeks ago, the Seahawks put together their best offensive game of the season, blowing out San Francisco 29-13, and the question was whether they could do it again against better opponents, Pittsburgh and Minnesota.
Well, they answered both questions emphatically, putting up 77 points in two wins while seizing control of their playoff destiny, and there are no more questions about the offense or the playoffs.
The only question now is: Can the Seahawks do this against Arizona and Carolina — the teams they will need to beat to get to the Super Bowl?
“I think this has been a few weeks that we’ve been feeling like we’re feeling,” Pete Carroll said. “Our confidence, sticking with our style, just the basic principles of what we expect and standards that we’re setting, everybody is really in line right now. This is that feeling that you’re looking for. We have a chance.”
Since his awful game against Arizona in Week 10, Russell Wilson has suddenly turned into the hottest quarterback in the league. In the past three games, he has completed 76.7 percent of his passes for 11 touchdowns and no interceptions, netting a stellar rating of 148.2 while averaging over 10 yards per pass attempt. It’s the best three-game stretch by a QB in franchise history.
The offense has scored 15 touchdowns in the past three games — an explosion few could have seen coming after Wilson & Co. had tallied just 15 in the first nine games. And they just put up 38 points on the No. 2 scoring defense in the NFL — the Vikings were giving up just 17.6 per game.
“I think we are collectively playing better,” Wilson said. “I think it is one of those things that you just stay the course. We have not been that far off — just a play here, a play there — and I think we are continuing to progress; that’s the key.”
The defense has struggled mightily against good quarterbacks this season — Carson Palmer threw for 363 yards and three TDs and Ben Roethlisberger blew up for 456 yards (but just one TD). In Minnesota, though, the Seahawks shut down the NFL’s top rusher, holding Adrian Peterson to just 18 yards.
It helped that the Hawks were not facing an elite quarterback — they held second-year passer Teddy Bridgewater to 118 yards and an interception.
That’s part of the reason the Seahawks are a near lock to make the playoffs now: They won’t face a good quarterback until they see Palmer again in the season finale.
The Seahawks will be favored in their next three games — at Baltimore (QB Matt Schaub) and home vs. Cleveland (Austin Davis) and St. Louis (Case Keenum). That would take them to 10 wins heading into the finale vs. Arizona — a game that figures to have meaning for both clubs as Arizona battles Carolina for the No. 1 seed and Seattle fights for perhaps the No. 5 seed.
The Hawks still trail Arizona by three games and have almost no chance of catching the Cardinals for the division title. But, with a one-game lead over Atlanta and Tampa Bay, Seattle is in complete control of its playoff destiny.
And the way the offense is now playing, that destiny might once again be the Super Bowl.