Sunday Night wrap-up: Seahawks run their way to the playoffs

AP

This was supposed to be a rebuilding year for the Seahawks.

They’re a playoff team now, by sticking to their convictions, even if they’re not in line with the rest of the league.

The Seahawks secured a playoff berth Sunday night with a 38-31 win over the Chiefs, improving to 9-6 on the season.

They’ve done it by going back to coach Pete Carroll’s roots, after an offseason spent jettisoning old players and former assistant coaches. They’re still playing a reasonable facsimile of their old defense, but it’s their old-school offense that’s the difference.

The Seahawks lead the league in rushing, which is a matter of intent as much as talent. They entered the game with 80 more rushes than pass attempts (457-377), and they kept that pace up against the Chiefs.

They ran for 210 yards on 43 attempts (including late knees which took the average below 5.0 per carry), and attempted just 29 passes.

Coupled with the kind of late-game magic by quarterback Russell Wilson (three touchdowns, the passing kind) they’ve always enjoyed, it’s an interesting mix. And it definitely goes against the current trends in the league, which suggest you have to fling it all over the place, all the time, to be successful. When everyone is moving in one direction, there’s always room to succeed by going against the grain.

Some might call it innovating.

Here are five more things we learned during Sunday Night Football:

1. Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes probably won’t have to throw another pass in a visiting stadium this season.

He’s done quite enough already.

Mahomes’ sidearmed third-quarter touchdown pass was his 30th this year. In the road games, we mean.

That broke Tom Brady‘s record of 29, set in 2007 for the most in league history.

It’s an interesting dynamic that he’d put up better numbers on the road (he has 17 touchdowns and five interceptions in seven home games so far, heading into next week’s finale), but so much of what he’s doing this year is unprecedented.

He pushed it to 31 in the fourth quarter, against just six interceptions in eight road games. They can clinch home field advantage in the AFC by beating the Raiders next week.

2. Seahawks running back Chris Carson topped the 1,000-yard barrier in the third quarter, and has become the closest thing they’ve found to a bell-cow back since Marshawn Lynch left town.

They’ve worked with committees and used a first-round pick on Rashaad Penny (who was inactive with a knee injury), but the 2017 seventh-rounder has emerged as a guy they can trust.

Not every team can pluck a back out of thin air (and their improvements on the offensive line have been significant), but Carson’s style is a perfect fit for the scheme and personality of the Seahawks.

3. Chiefs safety Eric Berry may not be quite back. But he’s getting there.

He was limited to just a half in his debut last week, as he works his way back from a bone spur issue in his heel (after missing 15 games last year with a torn Achilles).

He’s yet to look like the old Eric Berry, and he was on the sidelines late in the fourth quarter, as they continue to monitor his snaps.

Their defense has enough problems, and getting him back to anything resembling his old form will be crucial to their playoff chances.

It’s an oddball unit, because they have top-shelf talent, such as defensive end Chris Jones (who extended his streak of games with a sack to a record 11) and outside linebacker Dee Ford. They’ve been missing Berry all year, and if he gets his legs underneath him and Kendall Fuller gets back, there’s clearly room for improvement.

4. Elder Seahawks kicker Sebastian Janikowski was hurt in the third quarter, on a roughing the kicker penalty.

He was able to hit a 28-yard field goal later in the possession, but clearly wasn’t right.

That opened the door for Australian punter Michael Dickson to kick off, and he drop-kicked it inside the 5-yard-line.

Dickson has been a difference-maker in terms of field position for the Seahawks this year, and his ability to be effective in other ways (and his drop-kick field goals in pregame warm-ups were amazing), only adds to the layers of novelty.

Dickson’s second attempt went out of bounds, giving the Chiefs the ball at the 40, so it wasn’t nearly as cute then.

5. Chiefs wide receiver Marcus Kemp had played just 22 snaps of offense this year.

But he made one of the most athletic plays you’ll see, proving his value to a good team.

The Chiefs were able to pin the Seahawks inside their own 10-yard line on a punt that went into the end zone, thanks to Kemp’s leap. He took off before crossing the goal line, and batted it back into the field of play before he landed. His teammates seemed stunned at first, as they gave away a few yards by letting it role.

But the former undrafted rookie from Hawaii, who hung around on their practice squad last year, gave a perfect example of how fringe players can hang on for years. The number of players who can physically make that play are few, but the number who are willing to practice the craft of special teams to the point they know when and how are smaller still.

47 responses to “Sunday Night wrap-up: Seahawks run their way to the playoffs

  1. Hey NFL, uh-oh… shouldn’t have let that group of wolverines in green and blue into the dance. That pretty little trophy comes back home to Sea-town!

  2. Mahomes is a freak. Respect to the Chiefs fans because that kid is FRANCHISE. Having said that, I want to say how proud I am of the Seahawks. Rebuilding year where everyone counted them out and they’re in the playoffs. Well done Pete Carroll.

  3. Seahawks vs Dallas in Big D in the Wildcard game. Then it’s probably vs The Rams in LA. Those teams should be very, very worries about now. Russell loves the limelight of the playoffs and this will be fun!

  4. 7 straight winning seasons.
    2nd most wins in the last 7 years.
    6 playoff appearances.
    2 Super Bowls.
    1 Lombardi.
    Made the playoffs in spite of an 0-2 start (an 11 percent chance).
    Capable of beating ANY team in the NFL.
    Made it without Kam Chancellor, Jimmy Graham, Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, Cliff Avril, Michael Bennett and Paul Richardson.

    Oh and Russell Wilson? Only quarterback in NFL HISTORY with a wining record his 1st 7 seasons.

    omeimontis?

    nfliferfan22?

    redandgoldhitman52?

    usdcoyotesfan?

    nhpats?

    WHERE ARE YOU?????????

  5. Refs decided that game before it started.

    Clear late hit, waived off.
    Mahomes hit in the face, no call.
    Mahomes sacked below the knee, no call.
    Baldwin falls down on 3rd and goal, ghost d-holding call.
    Baldwin catches the long high pass, clear OPI, no call.
    I won’t complain about the o-line holds, that happens.

    Bob Sutton should be fired immediately.
    Chiefs have too many millions wrapped up in players not contributing. How you pay Hitchens $45 million to get trucked 1vs2 on the goal line is pitiful. Watson and his rtidiculous contract. Berry not healthy and we’re 16 weeks in. Should’ve been put on IR and gotten someone some experience.

    Seattle looks like a good team to watch, Chiefs defense make most teams look better than they are. But fun defense to watch.

    Reid’s loyalty to Sutton could very well cost him a Super Bowl appearance this year. Everyone in KC expected him to be fired last year, maybe now Reid will get on board. Fine if you don’t want to fire him, but force his retirement.

  6. Just finished watching this game. If Russell Wilson isn’t at least in the conversation for MVP, something is wrong. I know it will either be Mahomes or Drew Brees,but Wilson makes as many huge plays as they do. I say watch out for the Seahawks in the tournament.

  7. The playoffs are going to be wide open. I’d put my money on the Saints. The Chiefs have no chance with that pathetic defense. The entire AFC is pretty washed. And the entire NFC has major question marks minus New Orleans.

  8. @droppedinagreasefire

    Chief’s played fine football….they aren’t choking. If you’ve never been to a game in Seattle I can promise you its the single biggest home field advantage in the NFL. Go watch the last games by NE, Green Bay, and other elite teams playing in Seattle and you’ll see Chiefs did pretty well.

  9. It’s time to move on from Andy Reid Can’t win the Big Games anymore Its been 15 years since he won Coach of the year and there is a reason why.

  10. Hawks winning the bowl this year. Complete team. Every team has bad losses, but they just beat the best offense in the league. Confidence builder in December equals Super Bowl.

  11. my patriots have to play the jets LIGHTS OUT next sunday! No receivers dropping easy completions that turn out to be interceptions! While I highly doubt my patriots will win the AFC let alone the big game, Kansas City sure is making it difficult on themselves right now. San Diego, Us and Houston are lurking.

  12. what a great team win — yeah, they ran it, but as always, if you can’t make plays in the passing game when all the chips are down – you don’t beat good teams.

    kudos to the hawks wr’s who made huge catches at the biggest points in the game.

    Hawks D did enough, Mahomes is a load – I don’t know how you stop a QB who can throw like him, when he decides to scramble, there’s just not enough players on the field to cover everyone rush him, and that catch him when he runs. best chance is what the Hawks did, possess the ball as much as possible, shorten the game, and capitalize on your chances.

    like kamthechancellor said – i’m proud of this team – and hats off to Carroll for keeping things together when we lost all those defensive stalwarts in one swoop this off-season.

  13. Mahomes is a special guy. Seahawks played their best and he had the Chiefs in it til the end. Would be cool to see them rematch in SB but I think Seattle’s season ends in Dallas. Been a great ride though

  14. Yea the Chiefs upgraded their QB position bigly, but seems like it’s the same ole Chiefs. They’re looking at a one and done situation.

  15. Hawks just keep going on and on,, they brought my hcp daughte to Seattle fop MNF game with Vikes,,
    I have always been on the Hawks wagon since 1983,, but when they did this for my daughter,,,

    Hawks just keep going on and on,,,

    Koz is out

  16. Hawks just keep going on and on,, they brought my hcp daughte to Seattle fop MNF game with Vikes,,
    I have always been on the Hawks wagon since 1983,, but when they did this for my daughter,,,

    Hawks just keep going on and on

    Koz is out

  17. The Chiefs have lost all of their big games this year.

    They’ve beaten 3 teams with a winning record.

    Good team, but not what they seemed.

  18. Watching the NFL is getting close to watching WWE. In the Pittsburg game and the Seattle game, the outcome was determined by the officials, not the teams.

  19. Looks like the road to the SB will go through Foxborough again once the Chiefs go one and done in the playoffs.

  20. Sure seems like the Seahawks are peeking just at the right time. They may even have their lineman coming back from injury before the playoffs start. DJ Fluker is getting close.

    Even the San Francisco 49ers did Seattle a huge favor last week by showing those young players you have to bring it 100% in the NFL every week or any team can beat you. A lesson and then focus shown tonight.

    That SF game was a typical trap game but it ended up being perfect for the young seahawks… In a relatively meaningless contest 3 games from the end it lit the fire the Seahawks showed tonight and will need to go deep in the playoffs.

    Beating San Francisco then losing to Kansas City would have been much worse going into the playoffs in my opinion…

  21. ….Made it without Kam Chancellor, Jimmy Graham, Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, Cliff Avril, Michael Bennett and Paul Richardson…

    Let’s be honest. It’s what they did by booting Coach Cable and bringing in a REAL offensive line coach who actually, you know, coaches the frickin Offensive Line.

  22. Chiefs defense has gotten lit up quite a bit this year that’s going to be tough to overcome in the playoffs. A sharp Wilson and a deadly defense will make the NFC interesting.

  23. I guarantee the Seahawks will lose both next week and in the WC round. Otherwise I’ll eat Bart Simpson’s shorts.

  24. I loved it in SB49 when Wilson threw the losing INT and the Hawks had a toddler-like meltdown. Did you all see the replay of that arrogant smirk getting wiped off Sherman’s face and turning into tears? That was funny. And when those 2 clowns for SEA ganged up on Gronk only to both get body slammed by him? That was even funnier.

  25. Typical late December, early January job by Andy Reid. Perhaps we should also hold up on the bust in Canton for mahomes. Maybe several great years instead of several great games.

  26. Andy Reid is the passing version of Marty Schottenheimer.

    I realize that Andy got Philly to the SB many years ago and lost, and Mart never got there as a HC, but I never considered Andy a very good late season/post season head coach.

    The Chiefs need a ball control offense. With a defense that bad, they have to be able to eat up the clock and shorten the game.

    The Chiefs and the Chargers are paper tigers. They both will probably be beaten in the first round of the playoffs.

  27. That rainbow pass from Wilson to Lockett was a thing of beauty. As much as it pains me, it reminded me of the Eli Manning pass to Manningham in the SB where it was just perfectly placed. Nothing a DB could do about it. Wilson had another one shortly afterwards to Baldwin that wasn’t too shabby either. He’s got a nice deep ball and it was on display last night.

    As for the Chiefs, Mahomes is unreal. What a QB they have on their hands for years to come. Congrats to them for nailing that pick and great job by Alex Smith and Andy Reid acclimating him in that offense.

  28. And benjamin showed why he couldn’t even play for a team (Bills) desperate for wide outs when he dropped a TD inthe end zone! Wonder who will sign him for next year…

  29. Again, Seahawks were hitting all the notes perfectly and the Chiefs stayed in it til the end, in Seattle, in primetime, in December. People talking about choking or same ol Andy Reid, just sound dumb. Chiefs are a great team and it took a perfect storm for Seattle to eke out the win.

    Patriots have BB and TB, they could fill out the rest of the roster by raiding practice squads and they’d still be a threat. Other than that though, the Chiefs are head and shoulders above the rest of the AFC. I think all the negative comments are reflective of the posters’ fear that this will be their last chance to trash the Chiefs this year

  30. aj66shanghai says:
    Again, Seahawks were hitting all the notes perfectly and the Chiefs stayed in it til the end, in Seattle, in primetime, in December. People talking about choking or same ol Andy Reid, just sound dumb. Chiefs are a great team and it took a perfect storm for Seattle to eke out the win.
    ——————————————————–
    Look not to rub it in, but the Seahawks led the whole way except for about 5 minutes in the 1st quarter. Chiefs were scrambling to stay in it the whole way. They got beat, period.

  31. As a chiefs fan, its unfortunate but we’ve earned the label of not winning the big ones. This year however, I don’t think its on Andy Reid. He’s an offensive mind and the offense has certainly not been the problem. Just look at their point totals even in their losses. If Andy is guilty of anything this year, its keeping Bob Sutton around and doing nothing to upgrade their secondary at the deadline (probably more on Veach). I still have hope that we can win a couple come playoffs, but that defense is just plain hard to watch.

  32. I agree that that rainbow pass to lock it was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen watching a football twist in a perfect spiral 40 yards up in the air and 45 yards deep in slow motion.

    The broadcast had a great angle that showcased how high up it was. Rainbow indeed…dropped perfectly into the breadbasket at full sprint.

    A different kind of beauty is Chris Carson being met at the goaline by two unblocked linebackers and powering them both right on in for the score. He basically squatted them in the endzone… the power is unbelievable in that guy.

    Scary playoff team.

  33. Seahawks and Eagles are the two teams the NFCs 3 and 4 seeds do not want to draw in Rd 1. Either of those teams could handle the Cowboys and give the Rams or Bears all they can handle.

  34. terrytateofficelb says:
    December 24, 2018 at 10:01 am
    As a chiefs fan, its unfortunate but we’ve earned the label of not winning the big ones. This year however, I don’t think its on Andy Reid. He’s an offensive mind and the offense has certainly not been the problem. Just look at their point totals even in their losses. If Andy is guilty of anything this year, its keeping Bob Sutton around and doing nothing to upgrade their secondary at the deadline (probably more on Veach). I still have hope that we can win a couple come playoffs, but that defense is just plain hard to watch.
    ———————

    It’s the Dick Vermeil years all over again. He kept that loser Greg Robinson around too long. I sincerely hope that Reid fires Sutton and brings in a competent DC, along with overhauling that defense. He can’t waste the talent that Mahomes and the rest of that offense has on a lousy defense.

  35. So maybe Andy doesn’t have the authority to fire Sutton?

    Maybe they are doing the best they can with the players they have?

    Not sure Sutton is the main problem.

  36. I know this will be an unpopular take, but I hope the chiefs lose to the raiders next week. Maybe a playoff game collapse by the defense won’t get Sutton fired, but it will be hard to ignore a season collapse because of Sutton and his defense. Not sure how Reid could justify to the fans keeping his buddy Sutton around if the chiefs go from the 1 seed to the 5th and lose the decision strictly because of that god awful defense Sutton is running.

  37. arealisticpackerfan says:
    December 24, 2018 at 12:01 am

    The playoffs are going to be wide open. I’d put my money on the Saints. The Chiefs have no chance with that pathetic defense. The entire AFC is pretty washed. And the entire NFC has major question marks minus New Orleans.

    _________________________________________________

    I’m not so sure the Saints would have beaten the Steelers yesterday if JuJu didn’t fumble. They may have peaked too early. Then again,I don’t see anyone in the NFC who is better than them right now,except maybe the Seahawks. Don’t sleep on Seattle.

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