Coming off their watershed win against the Eagles, the Seahawks had a chance to confirm they were ready for a big run into the postseason. All they needed to do was beat the NFL’s best defense a week after beating the best offense.
They couldn’t do it, though, and now they have to beat the Rams next week — and the final two on top of that — to assure themselves of a sixth straight postseason. If they lose another game, they will need big help to get into the playoffs in a loaded NFC.
As ugly as that 30-24 loss in Jacksonville was, the Seahawks showed enough for us to think they still could make a run to the Super Bowl — assuming Russell Wilson quits throwing interceptions and Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright don’t miss any time.
It’s easy to look at all of the Seahawks’ negatives out of that loss, and there were many: the turnovers, the injuries to Wagner (hamstring) and Wright (concussion), the lack of a pass rush (no sacks and only one QB hit), another missed field goal, a TD-setting punt return by the Jags, the comportment by the defensive linemen at the end.
But the fact is the Hawks — despite all of their flaws — could easily have beaten the Jags, just as they could have overcome the Falcons, just like they did defeat the Eagles. They’re good enough to beat anyone when they don’t beat themselves.
Yeah, the Hawks have lost two of their past four games, but they would have beaten both Atlanta and Jax if Wilson hadn’t committed five turnovers in those games. The Hawks are 0-3 this season when they turn it over at least twice and lose the turnover battle (the pathetic home defeat to Washington was the other).
Against Jacksonville, Wilson inexplicably kept challenging the Jaguars’ top-notch corners — A.J. Bouye picked off two and Jalen Ramsey one. Two of the picks turned into 10 points, helping negate Wilson’s three TD passes. Wilson said he felt they needed to hit big plays, but that strategy seemed unsound, especially when the Seahawks put together their best rushing day of the season.
The last two weeks, against the best defenses in the NFL, Wilson and company have scored 48 points. Their running game has finally started clicking: After rushing for 101 against the Eagles, they put up a season-high 141 against the Jags. And they have largely kept two great pass-rushing teams off Wilson (just four sacks).
The defense, meanwhile, has given up consecutive 400-yard games for the first time since 2011, and the four 400-yard games this year are also the most since 2011 (five). The Hawks are 2-2 in those games, the losses (both by six points) coming on the road to NFC South squads Tennessee (420 yards) and Jacksonville (424).
Seattle held the Rams to 10 points on 375 yards in Los Angeles, just as they held the Eagles to 10 despite 425 yards last week, so the Hawks certainly are capable of playing “bend but don’t break” defense. The question is whether they can do it without Wagner and Wright, if necessary.
Some think the Rams losing to the Eagles saved the Seahawks’ season, but that’s not true. The Seahawks need to win the final three either way to guarantee a postseason spot.
As it is, the Hawks just have a better chance of winning the division now. But they need to finish 11-5 to guarantee a playoff spot. If they finish with just 10 wins, they would need losses from other contenders to assure a berth.
The finish to the game was highly reminiscent of Super Bowl XLIX, with the Seattle defensive linemen getting way too feisty against a Jags team that walked the taunting line all day. It’s a bad look for Pete Carroll, whose lack of discipline and control over his team really stands out in moments like that.
It won’t be a surprise if the Hawks are without Quinton Jefferson and Sheldon Richardson — both ejected — via league suspensions in Week 15. The Hawks really need Nazair Jones to get back from his ankle injury, and Dion Jordan (neck) would be a welcome return as well for a front that got no pressure on Blake Bortles.
The Jags scored all of their touchdowns after Wagner left the game. The Hawks have to hope he and Wright bounce back quickly, or it will put more pressure on Wilson & Co. to score points vs. the Rams. And we just saw what happens when Wilson presses.
A lot of fans want the Hawks to cut Blair Walsh, who has missed six of his last 14 kicks, including a 38-yarder vs. the Jags. But Seattle has no cap space to replace him. The Hawks obviously will look elsewhere after this season, but they are stuck with him at this point.
Malik McDowell’s reported arrest is another sign that the Hawks made a huge mistake in drafting him in the second round. They need to cut bait on him in the offseason — getting back their signing bonus and the accompanying cap credit.