The Seattle Seahawks are playoff bound once again. With a 20-15 victory over the Washington Football Team on Sunday, the Seahawks clinched a playoff berth for the ninth time in 11 seasons under head coach Pete Carroll.
"Being in the playoffs with games to go, that's a beautiful thing," head coach Pete Carroll said.
And while being in the playoffs has become rather routine for the Seahawks, some members of the team haven't been so for fortunate in previous stops and were incredibly happy to know they'll be playing in January.
"Hell yeah!" safety Jamal Adams exclaimed in his post-game interview after earning his first career playoff appearance. "That's a hell of a feeling man! I'm sorry, I'm not used to this guys. Forgive me, I know you guys are used to it. Seattle always going to the playoffs... I'm not used to this."
The victory over Washington wasn't nearly as clean or definitive as it appeared it was going to be. The Seahawks had to survive two fourth quarter touchdowns from the Football Team and one last drive threatening to steal the victory away. Seattle had built a 20-3 lead early in the third quarter but couldn't do enough offensively to put the game away.
But they did enough in the end to secure their 10th victory of the season and assure that they'll be playing games in January once again.
"It's an unbelievable opportunity. The Seahawks saved my season. I'd be preparing to go home for an offseason at this moment," defensive end Carlos Dunlap said.
Here are the takeaways from Sunday's win over Washington:
-- D.J. Reed has provided substantial boost to Seahawks defense.
It was an under-the-radar acquisition when it happened but the Seahawks picking up cornerback D.J. Reed this offseason has been an extremely important move for the Seahawks this season.
Reed came up with his second interception of the season on Sunday picking off Washington quarterback Dwayne Haskins in the third quarter. Reed has been a terrific fill-in starter for Seattle amid a slew of injuries at cornerback this season. Shaquill Griffin, Quinton Dunbar and Tre Flowers have all missed time due to injuries this season with Reed being a fully capable stand-in since being activated at midseason.
"He's playing good football and I like all of the activity and the consistency that he's shown and he's tackling really well. He's just a playmaker and so he has the lead the hold that spot at least going into this week," head coach Pete Carroll said.
Seattle picked Reed up off waivers from the San Francisco 49ers in August. Reed had suffered a torn pectoral during offseason workouts in July prior to the start of training camp and the 49ers believed he wouldn't be available to play this season. They waived him with an injury designation with the intention of Reed moving to their injured reserve list upon clearing waivers. That move would have fully ended Reed's season without any ability to return to action in 2020.
Instead, the Seahawks claimed him off waivers and brought him to Seattle knowing he would be unavailable for at least a sizable chunk of the season.
"This is John Schneider working his magic," Carroll said. "... He's a really good player. We could take him off their roster and put him on our roster and just wait it out with the thought that if we needed him down the stretch, he would be available as a nickel and potentially other places.
"He's just done it again. I think this team and how we put it together, John deserves so much credit because I just think he's just had a great vision for all of this."
Reed was able to return to practice in mid-October and was activated in time for Seattle's game against his former team the first weekend of November. He's played a critical part in the defense's resurgence over the second half of the season. He's made six starts in eight games for Seattle and helped cover the absences of Griffin, Dunbar and Flowers.
Reed finished the game against Washington with six tackles, an interception and three passes defended. For the season, Reed has 49 tackles, two interceptions, a fumble recovery and six passes defended.
"Honestly, I came into the game pretty angry, pissed off," Reed said. "I knew they were going to try me. I was guarding [Terry McLaurin]. So, you know, I felt like I had nervous energy so I came in the game with that chip on my shoulder and I just let it out, talking, all that I had fun out there.
"Just with this torn pec, I'll be telling myself sometimes like, man I wasn't supposed to be playing this year. If nobody would have picked me up. It was the Bills, Texans, and the Seahawks. If they wouldn't have shown interest, I'll be at home right now and nobody would know what I'm capable of. But it's crazy how God works because I knew I was capable of this. I did it in college and I knew I could do it in the league."
-- Offensive line performs against good Washington front.
The Washington Football Team entered Sunday's game against Seattle with 24 sacks over their previous seven games. They ranked fifth in the league in sacks as they are led by four first-round picks along their defensive front in Jonathan Allen, Da'Ron Payne, Montez Sweat and Chase Young.
But even missing Brandon Shell at right tackle and having left guard Mike Iupati exit early due to a neck injury, the Seahawks managed to hold Washington without a single sack.
"I'm sure you can see that we respected this opponent a great deal. We respected their pass rush. All the power of that defense up front and all. I thought [Brian Schottenheimer] and all the fellas on offense did a great job with the plan. Russell did a great job of carrying it out. We ran the ball for a bunch of yards and found ways to do that. Keep the ball away from them, not get sacked, I'm just really thrilled about the way that worked well."
Russell Wilson was hit just three times officially in the game. It was just the second time in the last three seasons that Wilson finished a game without being sacked. He also wasn't sacked in Seattle's 33-27 loss to the New Orleans Saints in Week 3 of the 2019 season.
"This is a tremendous pass rush team," Carroll said. "They've got four number ones or whatever. They're hauling ass at you and they didn't get Russ. That was awesome. That's how they have won games."
Additionally, the running game was successful as well. The Seahawks rushed for 181 yards against Washington on Sunday, which is the most the team has allowed all season. It was the second-most rushing yards of the season for Seattle behind the 200 they gained at Arizona in Week 7. The exclamation point was Carlos Hyde's 50-yard touchdown run in the third quarter that gave Seattle a 20-3 lead at the time. It was the longest touchdown run for Seattle since Rashaad Penny's 58-yard run against the Philadelphia Eagles last December.
"Every game we want to go in and establish the run, take the pressure off the quarterback, not rely so much on the quarterback to throw the ball," Hyde said. "We've got some very talented running backs in our room that can take over a game so it's good for us to go in each game and get that running game going."
-- Jason Myers sets franchise record for consecutive field goals made.
With a 40-yard field goal in the second quarter, Jason Myers set the Seahawks' franchise record for most consecutive field goals. The kick was the 31th straight made field goal for Myers, surpassing the record previously held by Olindo Mare.
Myers has made every field goal he's attempted since missing two kicks against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last season.
"You see the numbers and what's going on. You know, it's kind of cliché but my mind set is one-for-one. I write it on my wrist every day. You just keep doing that kick after kick and you hope that in the long run they all add up," Myers said.
Mare made 30 consecutive kicks for Seattle over a span stretching from Week 3 of the 2009 season through Week 9 of the 2020 season.
The combination of Myers, punter Michael Dickson and long snapper Tyler Ott have combined to lead a very strong special teams unit this season. They've excelled despite special teams coordinator Brian Schneider having to leave the team for an extended stretch at the beginning of the season with Larry Izzo taking over the duties in his place.
-- Seahawks still need more out of the offense.
The Seahawks had one substantial drive offensively in the second half of the win over Washington. They zipped down the field on the opening drive of the second half for their only score of the half. Hyde's 50-yard touchdown run gave Seattle a 20-3 lead as the capper to a four-play, 75-yard scoring drive.
The remaining five possessions of the second half?
Three plays, 9 yards, punt.
Three plays, -1 yard, punt.
Six plays, 36 yards, interception.
Three plays, 3 yards, punt.
Three plays, -3 yards, punt.
Carroll said he wasn't bothered at all by the performance on offense because it was part of the game plan they had for the game. They did not want the Washington pass rush to be a factor and did what they could be running the ball and throwing quickly to negate their impact.
"I ain't concerned at all," Carroll said. "We did exactly what we wanted to do. We didn't want them to be a factor in this game. And to give up yards and the stats and all that stuff, I'm not worried about that at all. ... It'll be different next time, the game after. But on this game, against that team, we neutralized their strength and that's what we had to do to get it done.
"I don't think there's anything you can see in this that is negative. I don't see anything about it. I just don't see that. This is the game that we wanted to play. This is almost the score that we thought it might be and all of that.
"I wish we would have made a couple more first downs and not let them have the last couple drives. We just didn't get it done today."
If it was a one-off game, that would be perfectly valid. The offense as a whole has been far less consistent over the last seven games than they were over the first seven games for the season. Not all of those reasons are going to be matchup-related. The Seahawks managed just 124 yards in the second half with 75 coming on the first drive after halftime.
The offense could have put the game away with another scoring drive. They had five chances at it. Instead, they had four three-and-outs and a turnover.
"What we hope that we can do is to do is do it all all together. If we can run the ball the way we are, and also throw the ball down the field, and also throw it quick ... when we marry all those things up together that's gonna be a really great thing," Wilson said. "That's going to make us a really, really tough offense."
Photo Credit: LANDOVER, MARYLAND - DECEMBER 20: The Seattle Seahawks defense celebrates after sacking quarterback Dwayne Haskins #7 of the Washington Football Team in the second half at FedExField on December 20, 2020 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)