The Seahawks are a sickly, battered bunch who still can’t win by more than one score. But they’re also 10-2 and in total control of the No. 2 seed in the NFC — with sights set on No. 1.
The Hawks did it as they usually do — getting behind, then looking like they might pull away, only to win in a nail-biter.
They were this close to their second comfortable win of the season. Instead, they ended up holding on for their ninth win by eight points or less, beating Minnesota 37-30.
Even after beating a good Minnesota team (8-4), some still question whether the Hawks are as good as the NFL’s four other 10-win teams (Baltimore, New England, New Orleans, San Francisco). We already know the answer since they have played three of those teams. And you can bet Pete Carroll and company would love rematches against the Saints and Ravens to show what the Hawks might do if they ever put together a complete game (or didn’t hand points to good teams).
The Hawks would love to play the Saints (or whoever makes the NFC title game) in Seattle. To do that, they need the Saints to lose a game — Week 14 against San Francisco seems a good time.
Meanwhile, the Hawks have to hope they start to feel better before they face the Rams in another big game Sunday night.
They beat the Vikings despite a bunch of ailments and mistakes.
Several guys struggled through the flu all week. Tyler Lockett, who had no catches, is still sick. David Moore lost 10 pounds last week and just started feeling better Sunday. He didn’t do much until scoring on a big 60-yard pass from Russell Wilson to put Seattle up 27-17 in the third quarter.
Tre Flowers practiced all week despite also suffering from the flu (wearing a mask in practice and apparently puking into garbage cans between periods). For the second straight game, he picked off a pass — setting up a TD that put Seattle up 34-17. But he also committed Seattle’s lone penalty — a legitimate 30-yarder that helped Minnesota claw to within 34-30.
Seahawks fans, who love to complain about officiating as much as any, will have no beefs this week. Carroll’s Seattle teams had been called for one penalty only two other times — in a 2010 blowout loss at Tampa Bay and last December in a win against Arizona.
We said the rushing game would be the focus, and it was. Despite Seattle’s linemen being banged up, they helped the backs tally a season-high 218 yards on 43 rushes. And they did it against the No. 5 rush defense. Chris Carson hit 100 yards for the fifth time this season and now has 981 yards this season (eighth in the NFL, fourth in the NFC). Rashaad Penny also played well for the second straight game, following up his 129-yard rushing effort against Philadelphia with 107 total yards and two touchdowns against Minnesota.
Seattle went over 200 rushing yards three times in 2018 — all in November and December. With a dominating performance against a stout run defense, are they getting ready to run over teams in December again?
Rookie Travis Homer contributed to the rushing total, coming up with a 27-yard run on a fake punt. Carroll, often criticized by some media and fans who dislike his conservative style, called the fake from his own 32-yard line.
“The guys did it beautifully, and the timing was exactly right,” Carroll said. “Great job by Brian Schneider and Larry Izzo to come up with the idea and the thought of it for the guys to execute. That’s a lot of people involved in getting that done and a lot of communication on that.”
Homer said they “were preparing for it all week. We looked at their punt return team and what it was doing and saw an opportunity. And we were just waiting to use it in the game.”
Homer then sealed the game with a fumble recovery on the kickoff after Seattle kicked a field goal to go up 37-30.
Jadeveon Clowney, playing with a sports hernia, made three tackles and forced a fumble that also knocked top rusher Dalvin Cook (clavicle) out of the game. Clowney, who apparently will need surgery after the season, said, “I’m trying to give everything to this team.”
The Seahawks gave up the ball twice but — thanks to Clowney, Flowers and Homer — still won the turnover battle for the seventh time this season; they are 7-0 in those games. They won TO margin 10 times last season and were 8-2. In 2013, their championship season, they won TO margin 11 times and were 10-1 in those games.
The Hawks still haven’t put together a complete game yet. They won this one despite giving the Vikings three of their four touchdowns. Wilson’s ill-advised volley of a deflected ball put the Vikes up 14-7 in the second quarter.
Until 2018, Wilson had thrown one pick-six in his career (his rookie year). He now has thrown two in each of the past two seasons. Seattle had lost the three other games when he did it.
Wilson also ran himself into a couple of sacks, making it an imperfect night but not nearly as bad as his game last December against the Vikings. He threw for 240 yards and a TD in this one, joining Peyton Manning as the only quarterbacks to throw for 3,000 yards and 20 TDs in each of their first eight seasons.
The Hawks apparently were too comfortable with a 34-17 lead, so the secondary blew a coverage on Laquon Treadwell, who scored on an easy 58-yard toss from Kirk Cousins. Then D.K. Metcalf contributed to the cause, fumbling on a third-down catch. Flowers’ PI came shortly after, and Kyle Rudolph made a one-handed grab over K.J. Wright for the 3-yard score to end that drive and cut the Vikings’ deficit to 34-30.
Wright made nine tackles and passed Keith Butler for third most stops in franchise history. He rallied after whiffing on a big play in the first quarter, allowing C.J. Ham to slip his grasp and rumble 36 yards into Seattle territory. The Vikings scored their first TD shortly after.
But the Hawks overcame that, shutting down the NFL’s No. 3 rushing attack (78 yards) and sending Cousins to an 0-8 record on Monday night.
Meanwhile, Wilson’s Hawks improved to 6-0 vs. the Vikings, 8-0 in December home night games and 25-5-1 in prime time. And they won for the 10th time in 12 games this season despite still not putting together a complete game.
Just wait until they actually do it.