The Seattle Seahawks finish the regular season 12-4 and as NFC West champions after their 26-23 win over the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday afternoon in Arizona.
The game itself went like many Seahawks game have gone over the years. A sometimes scuffling showing that required some fourth quarter heroics to put a notch in the win column when the clock hit zero. From the middle of the second quarter through the end of the third quarter, the Seahawks had four drives that resulted in -22 yards of offense.
The Seahawks found themselves trailing 16-6 in the fourth quarter despite facing a third-string quarterback in C.J. Beathard and having a number of key players out for the 49ers.
The defense held up well for a while before all the time on the field started to catch up with them. A big shot play to Richie James, some key third down conversions started to pile and suddenly Seattle was facing a 10-point fourth quarter deficit. But Russell Wilson and the Seahawks roared to life in the fourth quarter with Tyler Lockett scoring a pair of touchdowns and Alex Collins rushing for another to help put away the 49ers.
The game ultimately ended up being meaningless when it comes to postseason ramifications. A pair of injuries on the defensive side of the ball will loom large this week as well as Jamal Adams and Jarran Reed each left the game. But the Seahawks will be one of 14 teams still alive for a chance to make the Super Bowl. The journey begins next Saturday.
Here are the takeaways from the end of the regular season and the win over the 49ers:
-- Rams-Seahawks Part III in the first round of the playoffs next weekend.
With the Seahawks, Green Bay Packers and New Orleans Saints all winning on Sunday, nothing changed in the playoff outlook for the top seeds in the conference. Seattle is the No. 3 seed in the NFC and will host a playoff game next weekend.
With their win over the Arizona Cardinals, the Los Angeles Rams will make a return trip to Seattle for the second time in three weeks for the first round matchup next weekend. It's the second time the Seahawks and Rams will meet for a third time in a single season in the playoffs. In 2004, the Seahawks lost all three meetings that year to the (St. Louis) Rams despite winning the NFC West and hosting the playoff game.
“That’s what we wanted. That’s exactly what we wanted," Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald told Lindsey Thiry of ESPN.com after their win over the Cardinals.
The Packers will get a bye next weekend as the No. 1 seed in the conference. The Saints will play host to the Chicago Bears. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the No. 5 seed and will play with the Washington Football Team or New York Giants on the road next weekend depending upon the outcome of Sunday night's game between Washington and Philadelphia. A Washington win will send Tampa to D.C. while a Philadelphia win sends them to New York.
The Rams and Seahawks will kickoff at 1:40 p.m. next Saturday. The broadcast will be on FOX with, presumably, Joe Buck, Troy Aikman and Erin Andrews as the broadcasting crew.
-- The offense just isn't playing well enough to expect a sustained playoff run.
It seems weird to say that an offense that set a franchise record for the most points scored would have significant questions about their offense entering the playoffs.
A unit that was brilliant the first half of the season has been far less consistent in the second half of the year. It took until the fourth quarter for the unit to find its footing against the 49ers on Sunday. Outside of a blowout win over a then-winless New York Jets team, the Seahawks haven't scored 30 points in a game since their 44-34 loss to the Buffalo Bills in Week 9.
Seattle managed just 280 yards of total offense against the 49ers on Sunday.
"This was a difficult day for us. We didn't play the way we wanted to on offense early on," head coach Pete Carroll said afterward.
"All in all when it came down to it, we had to win in the fourth quarter and our guys did."
The Seahawks were putting up points like crazy the first half of the year as they soared to the top of the league offensive rankings behind the production of Russell Wilson, DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, Chris Carson and more. It has not been nearly as easy since with opposing defenses doing a better job of taking away Seattle's deep passing attack.
"I think we've got to get those more explosive plays here and there," Wilson said after the game. "I think that any time you get those explosive plays that definitely helps out. I think we have to get to some of those calls and get to some of those moments and stuff like that if we can. At the same time, all that matters in the playoffs is do you win the game or not. That's really what we care about in this locker room is winning the game. I think we were able to get those explosive plays and some of those explosive runs in the fourth quarter when the game was on the line."
Echoing comments he made a couple weeks ago, Carroll said he's not concerned by the play of the offense.
"You guys are wondering about it but I'm not worried about it. We're going to keep playing and try to play really good football, not give it to them, and try to play championship ball and we'll see how far that takes us," Carroll said.
"I'm really excited about going forward. I'm not worried about whatever you guys are worried about and all that. They've got to play us and they've got to stop us in the fourth quarter and [Russell]'s been pretty dynamic then."
The frequent sputtering of the offense is just such a stark contrast to the way the unit was playing earlier this year. Because they've shown an ability to produce at that level, their inability to reach those levels of play the second half of the year feels like the group has regressed. It's likely not that simple. Opposing defenses are playing better and Seattle has faced some stronger defenses down the stretch. Also, a run of division opponents who know what you like to do in games helps keep things in check as well.
"It's a really good defense again," Carroll said. "I know that they're banged up but they've still been playing everybody tough and they've been hard. The defenses in this division are legit, including ours. It's a challenge every week. It's how it is."
Against better teams moving forward the offense could quite likely need to bring more to the table for Seattle to get where they want to get to in a trip to the Super Bowl. They are very skilled at winning close games but the margin for error is going to be lessened in the postseason The offense likely can't afford to have extended stretches of scattered performance moving forward.
-- DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett set single-season receiving record on same possession.
On the same drive in the second quarter, DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett each set separate single-season franchise receiving records.
A 4-yard catch by Metcalf moved him past Steve Largent for the most receiving yards in a season in franchise history. Largent held the mark for 35 years after putting 1,287 yards in 1985 for Seattle.
A handful of plays later, Lockett caught his seventh pass of the game to give him 95 catches on the year. That moved Lockett beyond the 94 catches co-held by Bobby Engram in 2007 and Doug Baldwin in 2016.
"It was really a fantastic day for our receiving crew," Carroll said. "For Tyler Lockett to have his numbers and he didn't even come close [to missing it]. He had to get seven for a record and he got 12 catches today, had a fantastic day. Two great touchdown passes for us and just beautiful catches and just a beautiful season he had all throughout. It's almost quietly because he's just so consistently good. But he had a fantastic year and he's had a great career and really proud of that.
"Also DK set a record today too. ... DK set a record for yards and whenever you're messing around with Steve Largent and a great one like that and you can eclipse some numbers, it's a fantastic accomplishment in his second year as a receiver. It's really exciting. Two 1,000-yard guys too in that room. That's fantastic. Really proud of those guys. Great seasons and they deserve all the credit for that."
Metcalf finished the season with 1,300 yards and Lockett had 100 catches to officially cement their new records in place.
Lockett and Metcalf become just the second tandem in franchise history to each have 1,000 receiving yards in a season. Joey Galloway (1,039) and Brian Blades (1,001) accomplished the feat in 1995. Metcalf (1,303) and Lockett (1,054) join the list.
"I'm just thankful and don't take it for granted, but just learn how be grateful in all circumstances and thankful," Lockett said. "I'm definitely happy for DK. He deserves it. He works him butt off each and every day. ... Really, there is no limitations for him and so for him just to be able to do that in his second year it's like you don't know what can possibly happen or what can take place and I'm thankful to be able to have him on our team."
Lockett apparently loves playing in Arizona as well. In two games at State Farm Stadium this year, Lockett combined for 27 catches for 290 yards five touchdowns in games against the Cardinals and 49ers, who used the stadium as a temporary home due to COVID-19 restrictions in Santa Clara County displacing the team for the last month.
"I created a whole bunch of different memories just being able to come out here and to play in the stadium in Arizona. But hey, I don't know. I love being here," Lockett said.
-- Jamal Adams and Jarran Reed injuries worth watching.
Safety Jamal Adams and defensive tackle Jarran Reed both left Sunday's game against the 49ers with injuries.
Adams suffered a shoulder injury that knocked him from the game while Reed strained an oblique muscle.
Carroll said after the game that Adams' injury isn't to the same shoulder he hurt earlier this year at Los Angeles. This injury was to his other shoulder.
"He hurt his shoulder," Carroll said. "He was just so disappointed, more dejected about it. The fact that he got banged up. I think it was on a pass rush. We'll see what happens, see what that means for next week. I can't tell you. The early stuff from the trainers is that he'll play next week but we'll have to see how he does getting through the week."
Adams was visibly frustrated on the sideline. He tossed his helmet to the ground after coming out of the game and his usual jovial personality was muted.
Meanwhile, Reed staggered off the field while hunched over at the waist after his injury.
"He had an oblique strain," Carroll said. "It happened in the middle of the game and he went back in with it, played with it. Pretty sore coming out though. We'll have to see what that means. I don't have any forecast there."
Reed didn't look in great shape when he left the game.
Running back Rashaad Penny also left the contest due to cramping but he will be fine.
With just six days until the playoff game against the Rams, it would be a quick time frame for Adams and Reed to bounce back and be available.
-- Russell Wilson gets David Moore $100,000 incentive.
After recovering the 49ers' onside kick, all the Seahawks had to go to get the victory is kneel out the remaining time on the clock. But instead of kneeling on the ball, Russell Wilson lined up in shotgun and dumped a little push pass to a motioning David Moore for a 5-yard gain going out of bounds with just 22 seconds left to play.
The play made no sense until it came to light that the reception allowed Moore to hit a $100,000 incentive for catches this season. It was his 35th catch of the year.
"We called that play because David had $100,000 if he gets that catch," Wilson confirmed afterward. "It's a blessing to be able to help his family and his daughter and all that stuff. It's part of the game. We wanted to get him that catch so we were able to dial that up for him that last play."
Wilson said that he knew earlier this week that Moore was a catch shy of his incentive and wanted to get him the bonus. Attempts earlier in the game to get him catch didn't materialize and Wilson said they changed the play call in the huddle from a kneel to the pass play so Moore could get the catch he needed.
"We were going to kneel it and we ended up changing it," Wilson said. "Austin [Davis] on the sideline and I were talking and we had talked on the sideline earlier about trying to find a way if we can get it done. Austin actually said 'hey, let's get it done. Let's do it right here.' So we were kind of looking at each other like let's get it done here so then we ended up calling it. 'David, you're going to get the ball right here. Here we go.' And I kind of winked at him. So it was pretty cool.
"He's worked so hard this year so he's definitely earned it."
Photo Credit: GLENDALE, ARIZONA - JANUARY 03: Wide receiver Tyler Lockett #16 of the Seattle Seahawks catches a 4-yard touchdown reception against the San Francisco 49ers during the second half of the NFL game at State Farm Stadium on January 03, 2021 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)