RENTON, Wash. - Take away one 40-point outburst in early December and the general feeling is the Seattle Seahawks’ offense that was flying earlier in the season is about to enter the playoffs in more of a slog.
That would be the outside view. Pete Carroll sees nothing wrong with the way the Seahawks are getting things done offensively going into the postseason.
"You guys, you’re wondering about it, but I’m not worried about it," Carroll told reporters. "We are going to keep playing and try to play really good football, not give it to them and play championship ball and see how far that takes us."
In many ways, the Seahawks will go into Saturday’s wild-card matchup against the Los Angeles Rams looking more and more like the type of team that’s come to be expected during Carroll’s tenure.
Yes, the offensive explosiveness is still there as evidenced by a 20-point fourth quarter in Sunday’s 26-23 win over San Francisco. But the offense that had Russell Wilson and DK Metcalf putting up silly numbers earlier in the season has evolved. It’s become a little more conservative, a little less high flying, a little more controlled.
Wilson threw two TDs on Sunday to give him 40 for the season, but he hasn’t thrown for more than 263 yards in a game during the second half of the season. Meanwhile, the Seahawks have averaged nearly 130 yards per game rushing during that stretch.
At the same time, Seattle’s defense has morphed from being an embarrassment earlier in the 2020 to possibly being the primary strength for the Seahawks going into the postseason. If not for a late touchdown allowed with 23 seconds remaining on Sunday, the Seahawks would have held each of their final six opponents under 20 points.
"Where we were at the beginning of season to where we are at now is night and day, but we’ve got to keep it up," Seattle linebacker Bobby Wagner said.
While Seattle’s pass game doesn’t have the same potency as earlier in the season, the Seahawks made sure Tyler Lockett is in rhythm going into the playoffs. Lockett had 12 catches for 90 yards and two TDs on Sunday against the 49ers. Lockett’s last catch gave him 100 for the season, the first Seattle player to reach the century mark in a regular season.
Getting Lockett going will be important against the Rams, who have done a very good job at keeping both Seattle receivers in check this season. Lockett and Metcalf each have a combined eight catches in the two games against the Rams this season.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
Third downs have been a problem all season for Seattle. Only four times in 16 games were the Seahawks better than 50% on its third-down conversions. Seattle was 4 of 12 on Sunday against the 49ers and was a combined 17 of 41 (41%) over the final three games.
The Seahawks were 40% on third downs for the entire season.
David Moore’s stock might not be up that much. He did have just one catch on Sunday and just eight over the final five weeks. But his bank account is certainly up. Moore picked up a $100,000 contract bonus with his one catch against the 49ers. It came in the final seconds when Wilson changed the play in the huddle, aware that Moore needed one catch to reach 35 for the season and trigger the contract incentive. It was a surprising play call in the moment when it appeared Seattle would just kneel to run out the clock, but made sense in the aftermath.
The last thing the Seahawks wanted to see was defensive tackle Jarran Reed uncomfortably walking off the field Sunday after suffering an oblique injury. Reed has played well and provided an interior pass rush for the Seahawks while also being stout against the run. Reed is second on the team with 6 ½ sacks.
Carroll sounded a bit more pessimistic about the status of safety Jamal Adams during his radio show on Monday. Adams suffered a left shoulder injury in the second half against San Francisco. Carroll said after the game the early indications were the Adams would be able to play against the Rams. Carroll seemed to hedge a little on Monday saying, "he got hurt."
"We’ll see what happens. I can’t tell you right now. I don’t know," Carroll added.
Seattle does expect to have starting right tackle Brandon Shell back after he was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list due to a close contact.
12 — Seattle finished the season 12-0 in games when the turnover margin was even or in the Seahawks’ favor. The Seahawks were plus-12 in turnovers in those 12 wins. Seattle was minus-8 in its four losses.
It will be the second playoff matchup between the Seahawks and the Rams. The other came in 2004 when Seattle won the NFC West, but the Rams upset the Seahawks 27-20 in the wild-card round. The Rams won all three meetings that year. The teams have split this season.