It’s starting to feel perfectly normal for the Seahawks to play (and win) so many close games.
And it also feels a little like these Seahawks, still with a perfect record after a 27-26 win over Minnesota, might be a team of destiny — a la the 2013 Super Bowl club.
There was little reason for them to beat Minnesota the way that game went. Not after trailing 13-0 at halftime, failing to convert a third down, allowing 43% to be converted, surrendering 31 first downs, giving up over 200 rushing yards, being out-possessed 39-21 minutes. Seattle was outplayed for all but about four minutes of that game.
Pete Carroll’s Seahawks have never played a game with that particular mix of bad stats, which probably explains why 10th-year veteran K.J. Wright called this one of the three craziest games he has ever played.
The Seahawks overcame it all to hit 5-0 for the first time because they won the turnover battle (3-1, counting a big fourth-down stop) and field position, were called for just three penalties and got two spectacular plays from DK Metcalf to win the game.
These Seahawks, a lot like the 2019 version, run on a thin margin due to that bad defense. This was their league-high 14th one-score game over the past two seasons. And they pretty much hit their limit for negative plays in this one, outplayed for all but about four minutes of the game – the two-minute span in which they scored three TDs in the third quarter (thanks to two turnovers) and the two-minute drive to win it.
It took the fourth-down stop on an aggressive put-the-game-away call by Vikings coach Mike Zimmer, plus two heart-stopping fourth-down catches by Metcalf.
The Seahawks have won this way before – in 2013.
That is the only other time in Wilson’s career they trailed by 13 or more at halftime – like they did Sunday night – and rallied to win. They actually did it twice that year, beating Tampa Bay and Houston in overtime.
The Vikings ran for 201 yards, but that has never been a marker for a Seattle loss. Wilson’s Hawks are now 5-2 when giving up 200 rushing yards, including two wins in 2013 (when their defense was 180 degrees better).
The 2013 Hawks started 4-0 before stumbling in a 34-28 loss to Indy, which is why this is now the only 5-0 start in team history. The question is whether this formula is sustainable.
As we all know, they are winning much differently than they did in 2013. That season, they were 5-3 in one-score games and won the rest by an average of 22.3 points.
This team doesn’t have the defense to do that. Like 2019, pessimists will point out all of the close games they could have lost as a way of saying they are really just an average team. Well, as Bill Parcells once said, “You are what your record says you are.” And, for now, the Hawks are perfect – despite all of their flaws.
As they head into their bye, they can be thankful their otherwise terrible defense has risen at key moments in games. It stopped Atlanta on all four fourth-down tries; L.J. Collier tackled Cam Newton on the final play to keep New England from winning from the 1; Ryan Neal picked off Dak Prescott to clinch the win over Dallas; the defense held Miami to five field goals and set up the clinching touchdown with Shaquill Griffin’s pick.
Against Minnesota, Wright recovered a fumble and made a one-handed pick as he continued his torrid play since moving to SAM three games ago. And then, the defense had the key stop on fourth down as Zimmer decided to strike what would have been the killing blow instead of go up by eight. “We came here to win so I’m not going to second-guess any of that stuff,” Zimmer said. “We didn’t get it done.”
The Seattle defense will get a little better. After the bye, Jamal Adams and Jordyn Brooks both are expected to return and Damon Harrison should make his debut. But this unit will be hamstrung all season by John Schneider’s failure to land a marquee pass rusher, so takeaways will be paramount. The Hawks are tied for third in the league with eight, and are tied for second with a plus-5 margin.
The offense is going to have to stay nimble and keep mixing it up. The Vikings blanketed Wilson’s receivers enough that he held the ball too long throughout the game and ended up checking down or scrambling when he was not sacked (four times).
We keep saying it every week, but Brian Schottenheimer needs to use his tight ends a lot more – especially when the receivers are having trouble. The Seahawks finally got going on offense against the Vikings when Wilson hit Greg Olsen for 20 yards and Will Dissly for a 19-yard TD. That was it for the tight ends in this game, though. Let’s have more of that. Why else are you paying Olsen and Jacob Hollister a combined $10 million?
As tough as it was for Wilson to get the ball downfield in this one, Metcalf (six catches, 93 yards, two scores) had the best game of his career. Yeah, it was even better than his 7-160-1 game against the Eagles in the playoffs last season. Why? Because he made tough catches all night, with the two fourth-down catches on the final drive being the most clutch plays he has ever made.
Unlike many who wanted to anoint him as a superstar after the playoff game or through the first four games of this season because he led the league in receiving yards, we still saw him only as a deep threat because that is all he really had been. But those plays against Minnesota were a big step in him becoming an all-around receiver.
And a perfect way to head into the bye.