A win over one of the NFL’s worst teams proved nothing about the Seahawks, though it did keep them vaguely in the tightly knotted race for the seventh playoff spot.
Russell Wilson played as well as he had since perhaps early last season, Rashaad Penny (137 yards, two TDs) had the best game of his career and the Hawks turned a close contest into a 33-13 blowout with 14 points in the fourth quarter.
Now comes the real test. Wilson almost always struggles against the Rams – e.g., he led Seattle to just one touchdown in three quarters before he was injured earlier this season. But he is going to have to play like he did in Houston if he is going to help keep Seattle’s hopes alive.
The Seahawks now sit just a game out of the last playoff spot, but they need a lot of action to break their way to claim it.
They got a tiny bit of help when Washington lost to Dallas, creating a five-way tie at 6-7 behind San Francisco (7-6). But WFT, Minnesota and New Orleans are all essentially two games up on Seattle (5-8) after having beaten the Hawks. That leaves Seattle with still just a 3% chance of making the playoffs (per both FiveThirtyEight and the New York Times).
If the Hawks lose to the Rams (or anyone), their faint playoff hopes are finished. But if they win out, their base chance approves to 41%, per FiveThirtyEight. The other 59% depends on what other teams do.
Key games for Seattle’s chances in Week 15: Washington at Philadelphia, Minnesota at Chicago, New Orleans at Tampa Bay. If those games go their way, their odds would jump to 57% (assuming they are going to win out).
In Week 16, as the Hawks play Chicago, the 49ers play at Tennessee, Washington is at Dallas, the Rams are at Minnesota, Miami is at New Orleans and the Eagles host the Giants. If the Hawks get all of the right results here, their odds could jump to 93%.
In Week 17, as Seattle hosts Detroit, the Eagles are at Washington, the Rams are at Baltimore, the Vikings are at Green Bay and the Saints host Carolina.
In Week 18, the Saints are in Atlanta, the Vikings host the Bears, the Eagles host the Cowboys, WFT is at the Giants and the Niners are at the Rams.
Basically, there are plenty of ways the Hawks could get in if they run the table. But none of it matters if they don’t beat the Rams this week.
Penny’s injury history has always seemed a little psychosomatic, and Adrian Peterson may have helped him take a big step in getting past it.
After his big game in Houston, he said he gained a new outlook when Peterson arrived in the locker room. He watched Peterson’s career highlights and learned something more about playing tough.
“Honestly, I would tell you that I think Adrian had an influence on him,” Pete Carroll said. “I think he took a new step forward. I’m really excited for him, and I’m really excited for us to have that. That was one game; we have to do that again, but that makes him very difficult. He’s shown signs of that kind of play at times, but not with the consistency that we saw yesterday. I know he’s pumped up about it.”
If Penny can stay healthy and play like that the rest of the way, perhaps the Hawks would consider re-signing him to a really cheap deal. But odds are these are the last few games of his incredibly disappointing Seattle tenure.
Tyler Lockett had another big game — five catches for 142 yards and a TD — and went over 1,000 yards for the third straight season. He is the second Seahawk ever to do that. Hall of Famer Steve Largent had eight 1,000-yard seasons in a nine-year stretch (1978-86), so he technically ran off four sets of 3 x 1,000.
Lockett pointed out how apropos it is that he joined Largent in that feat, considering they both were born on Sept. 28 in Tulsa, Okla. — Largent in 1954, Lockett in 1992.
“Man, that’s a blessing,” said Lockett, who shares Largent’s DB-twisting route-running, stellar hands and magical sideline toe-tapping skills. “It’s funny because we got the same birthday and we were born and raised in the same hometown, Tulsa, Oklahoma. It’s just pretty funny that just something like that was to happen.”
Lockett is sixth in team history with 438 receptions — just three behind Darrell Jackson. Lockett is fifth with 5,915 yards — just 530 behind Jackson and 648 behind former teammate Doug Baldwin.
Lockett is 143 catches and 1,705 yards behind Brian Blades for second in franchise history to Largent in those categories. Largent set NFL records with his 819 receptions and 13,089 yards.