The Seahawks know how to win on the road in the wild-card round, as they proved again in Philadelphia. Now the question: Can they overcome their winless record in road divisional playoff games?
Russell Wilson beat the Eagles’ pressure, thanks in big part to rookie D.K. Metcalf’s record-setting game, and the Seattle defense sacked Philly’s passers seven times in a 17-9 win that was a duplicate of their Week 12 meeting in score, if not in other ways.
The Seahawks improved to 3-5 in road playoff games, all of the wins coming in the wild-card round. It was their first playoff win since the 2016 season, 26-6 vs. Detroit at home, and sent them to the divisional round for the seventh time in Pete Carroll’s 10 seasons. (Who wanted him fired again?)
Seattle, missing three starting linemen and its top three running backs, could not create running lanes against feisty Fletcher Cox and the NFL’s third-ranked run defense, so Wilson dusted off his running shoes (as we expected him to). He led the team with 45 yards, his fourth most in a playoff game, and also threw for 325, his third most in a playoff game. He burned the Eagles’ blitz, hitting 6 of 7 passes for 163 yards.
With 160 yards, Metcalf set records for receiving yards by an NFL rookie and by any Seahawks receiver in a playoff game. Darrell Jackson had 143 vs. Washington in the 2005 Super Bowl season, and Zach Miller had 142 vs. Atlanta in that 30-28 loss to end the 2012 season.
“He looked like Calvin Johnson out there tonight,” K.J. Wright said of Metcalf.
Quandre Diggs, back after missing two games with a high ankle sprain, steadied the secondary, which can be credited with at least half the seven sacks on Carson Wentz and Josh McCown. The coverage forced the quarterbacks to move around and try to find guys, and Philly’s equally patched-up O-line couldn’t keep the rush at bay. The seven sacks were a Seahawks record for a playoff game.
“We’ve played really well when he’s with us. We did it again,” Carroll said of Diggs. “That deep end was in good shape. He just has a steadying presence about him. Other guys play better around him.”
Clowney — dealing with a core injury that has hindered or sidelined him since Week 11 — played like the guy we saw in San Francisco a couple of months ago (the game in which he was injured). In Philly, he notched a sack and some key tackles while drawing a bunch of double- and triple-teams. He also knocked Wentz out of the game with a concussion (more on that below).
Carroll said Clowney was “on fire”and feeling as good as he had felt in a while. In the locker room after the game, a teammate told Clowney of his preparation: “Whatever you did last week, (expletive) do it again this week!”
This week will be in Green Bay, where the Seahawks — coached by Mike Holmgren, Jim Mora and Carroll — have lost eight straight. The last, coincidentally to this game, was a 17-9 score in the 2017 opener.
The Hawks have lost two playoff games in Green Bay — a blowout in the 2007 season and the infamous Matt Hasselbeck overtime guarantee to end the 2003 season. In three losses in Green Bay, Wilson has completed just 57.3 percent, with three TDs and six interceptions. He’ll have to play a lot better this time.
Aaron Rodgers & Co. rattled off five wins to end the season, including a 23-10 win at Minnesota in Week 16. And they were 7-1 at home this season. So this figures to be as tough as any of the Hawks’ games in Green Bay — and they will have to buck a bad trend in divisional road games, where they are 0-4 under Carroll.
OTHER NOTES & OBSERVATIONS
The Eagles have long been known to have some of the worst fans in the NFL, and they showed it by ripping Clowney for his unintentionally big hit on Wentz. Clowney said: “They are just lighting me up, telling me, ‘Go to Hell! Die! Go to prison. Go to jail, you and you’re family.'”
Clowney said, “I didn’t think it was that crazy of a hit. I thought it was a small, really just tagging-him-down hit. I fell on him a little bit. … For him to go out (was) surprising. … I didn’t intentionally try to hurt (anybody). I hope he’s OK and that everything will be OK with him.”
Referee Shawn Smith said no penalty was called because Wentz “was a runner and he did not give himself up. We saw incidental helmet contact.”
Metcalf had a horrible game in Philly in Week 12, dropping big passes (including a TD) that could have put that one away. He made up for it in a big way this time. He has improved noticeably since then (the 0-fer in Arizona notwithstanding), with a 71 percent catch rate, 430 yards and three TDs.
The Seahawks have not forced a turnover in three straight games. This was the first with Diggs in which they were blanked. It also was the first win in four games with no takeaways this season. They seem unlikely to get any in Green Bay either: Rodgers & Co. turned the ball over just 13 times (including a league-low four picks by Rodgers).
Zach Ertz put forth a gutsy effort for the Eagles, just two weeks after suffering a lacerated kidney and two broken ribs against Dallas that sent him to the hospital after that game. He caught two passes for 44 yards and drew a couple of holding calls against Bradley McDougald (who led Seattle with 11 tackles). “I wanted to play for this city,” Ertz said. “I take a lot of pride playing for my teammates.”