There are four different ways to score in football and even more ways to win. The comeback. The blowout. The squeaker. With Monday night’s 14-9 win over the St. Louis Rams, the Seattle Seahawks may have invented a new category of victory -- the butt-ugly nail-biter.
It’s not possible to play worse than the Seahawks did on offense and still come out with a "W". Seattle managed just 135 total yards, 80 of which came on a long touchdown pass to wide receiver Golden Tate (to paraphrase “Monday Night Football” announcer Mike Tirico, Tate’s taunt tainted the touchdown, although it did provide actors with a new tongue-twister to try out). Outside of the Seahawks two touchdown drives, the team earned a grand total of 29 yards in nine possessions, all of which ended in punts.
The defense quite literally won Seattle the game. After holding the Rams to just three field goals (and what would prove to be a crucial missed field goal in the 4th quarter) on 339 yards of offense, the Seahawks D finally showed the exhaustion that comes with a 38:09 to 21:51 disparity in time of possession. St. Louis took over at their own 3-yard line with 5:42 left in the game and proceeded to move the ball all the way down to the Seahawks 6-yard line. But despite getting five cracks at a game-winning touchdown (St. Louis got an extra attempt on a defensive penalty), the Rams were unable to punch it in, with Kellen Clemens fourth down pass to Brian Quick falling incomplete on the last play of the game.
“That’s about as challenging a situation as a defense can get in,” head coach Pete Carroll said about the goal-line stand. “They just kept hanging … and stopping them and stopping them and finding a way.”
‘Finding a way’ could be the catchphrase for the first half of the Seahawks season. Their wins over the Panthers, Texans, and particularly the Rams, were not the type you put on your resume tape for style and panache. But in each instance, the defense made crucial plays at critical moments to secure the win.
However, the Seahawks’ banged up offensive line simply must play better if they hope to continue their winning ways over the season’s second half. Russell Wilson was sacked a season-high seven times against the Rams, including three each from Robert Quinn and Chris Long. That’s a frightening 12 sacks the Seahawks have surrendered in the past two games.
They must also get better at minimizing penalties. Seattle handed St. Louis four first downs on penalties and were flagged 10 times total. Seattle is now averaging 8.1 penalties per game, the third highest in the league.
When you steal a win as Seattle did, however, such criticisms go down easy. The “W” is ultimately what matters, and at 7-1, the Seahawks own the best record in the NFC. With their back-to-back road wins, they’ve now beaten all three division rivals once. And outside of the New Orleans Saints, the Seahawks remaining non-divisional opponents have a combined record of 5-24.
In other words, Seattle is in a fantastic position to secure home field advantage throughout the playoffs.
Thankfully for their fans, Seattle’s home games tend to be a little easier to watch.