Maybe this new incarnation of the 2020 Seahawks — which looks eerily similar to those of many of coach Pete Carroll’s first 10 years in Seattle — isn’t quite as exciting as the earlier “let’s give up a ton of points but score just a few more” version.
But it’s proving to be just as effective.
For the second consecutive week it was a suddenly revived defense that Seattle largely rode to victory, a 23-17 win against the Eagles in Philadelphia.
Well, that and the even larger shoulders of receiver DK Metcalf, who had a career-high 177 yards receiving on 10 receptions, besting the 161 he had against the 49ers this month (and just a bit more than the 160 he had in a playoff game against the Eagles in January).
The win was the second in a row for the Seahawks after they had lost three of four and moved them into sole possession of first place in the NFC West at 8-3 and on the heels of the 9-2 Saints for the top seed in the NFC in what is the first of a favorable stretch of four games against teams that as of Monday had a combined 11 wins.
It was also the second consecutive week in which the defense allowed a season low in points and yards (250).
A pass defense that came in allowing 343.7 yards per game, last in the NFL, gave up just 148 until the Eagles got 32 on a Hail Mary touchdown with 12 seconds left that made the game look closer than it really was.
And sure, it came against an Eagles offense that has struggled all season as opposed to highflying Arizona 11 before.
But this is the way a decent defense is supposed to treat a bad offense, something the Seahawks probably couldn’t have done earlier in the year.
Seattle held the Eagles without a first down on their first five drives, allowing the offense to build a 14-0 lead.
And the defense then made big plays down the stretch — notably, two stops on fourth downs in the fourth quarter — allowing Seattle to hang on to its seventh consecutive victory against the Eagles and third in a little over a year.
The Seahawks didn’t quite have the balanced attack of last Thursday’s 28-21 win over Arizona, held to 77 on 29 carries.
But Metcalf helped make up for that, continually beating three-time Pro Bowl cornerback Darius Slay on a night he topped the 1,000-yard mark in receiving for the season, now at 1,039.
The Seahawks led 14-6 at the end of a first half dominated by Seattle’s defense early on and Metcalf throughout.
The Seahawks forced Philly’s offense to go three-and-out on each of its first five possessions, with the Eagles held to a net of minus-1 yards on its first 15 plays.
That allowed the Seattle offense to eventually break free and forge a 14-0 lead after two early possessions into Eagles territory yielded no points when the Seahawks failed on fourth downs.
In fact, Seattle’s first possession ended at the Eagles 2-yard line when Seattle went for it on fourth down and David Moore was tackled for a five-yard loss on a play in which he was flipped the ball as he ran in front of Russell Wilson on a sweep.
Seattle’s next drive ended in another failed fourth down at the Philly 37-yard line, and the game was scoreless at the end of the first quarter.
But the Seahawks then scored touchdowns on two consecutive drives in the second quarter, marches of 68 and 56 yards, with Metcalf keying each.
A 52-yard Wilson-to-Metcalf connection on a third-and-13 took the ball to the Philly 1, where two plays later Wilson hit Moore for the touchdown.
On the next drive, Wilson hit Metcalf for 17 yards to the Eagles 6. After a penalty, Chris Carson then rumbled 16 yards for a touchdown and a 14-0 Seattle lead with 5:27 to play in the first half.
But the Eagles then finally got their offense moving, keyed by runs by Wentz of 20 and 13 yards.
That set up a 3-yard pass from Wentz to tight end Dallas Goedert with 12 seconds to play in the half. The extra point was no good, leaving the score at 14-6 at halftime.
Seattle outgained the Eagles 194-74 in the first half, as Metcalf had seven receptions for 118 yards. Wilson was 13-for-18 for 152 yards and one touchdown.
Seattle went three-and-out on its first possession of the second half, and the Eagles then drove to the Seahawks 17. But on third-and-10, Adams broke through to sack Wentz and force a field goal that cut the deficit to five at 14-9 with 7:33 to play in the third quarter.
Seattle then answered with a field-goal drive of its own with two more Metcalf catches allowing the Seahawks to get to the Philly 27 before the drive stalled.
After going for it earlier on two fourth downs, Carroll decided to kick a field goal on fourth-and-one and Jason Myers hit a 44-yarder to make it 17-9 — the same score as Seattle’s two wins against the Eagles last season in the regular season and then in the wild-card playoff game.
The game then turned Seattle’s way for good early in the fourth quarter.
First, K.J. Wright batted down a Wentz pass when the Eagles decided to go for it on fourth-and-two at their 48-yard line, with tight end Richard Rogers appearing to be open for the first down if the pass had gotten through.
The Seahawks then used another Metcalf reception — this one for 32 yards — to move into position for a 33-yard field goal by Myers that made it 2-0 with 11:08 left. Seattle would have had a touchdown if Metcalf had been able to hang onto a pass a few plays later in the end zone.
The Eagles used two pass-interference penalties to move to the Seattle 15 on their next drive.
But on fourth-and-four a Wentz pass in the end zone was picked off by Quandre Diggs with 8:35 left.
And given the ineptitude of the Eagles offense — and the sudden competency of Seattle’s defense — at that point any drama had been sucked out of a game that was pretty light on it throughout.