Here’s how the Seattle Seahawks grade out in their 20-15 victory over Washington on Sunday at FedEx Field:
Seattle ran the ball well, with Chris Carson doing some punishing work, Carlos Hyde breaking free for a 50-yard touchdown, and quarterback Russell Wilson helping out with timely scrambles. The offense engineered a big 98-yard touchdown drive late in the first half and a run-driven 75-yard TD drive to open the second half, a stretch that proved to be the difference in the game. However, the passing game never got going as the Seahawks were held to a season-low 121 passing yards, and the offense didn’t do anything to help out the defense in the fourth quarter while Washington was rallying.
For much of the game Seattle’s defense dominated, making Washington’s offense look hapless behind back-up quarterback Dwayne Haskins. D.J. Reed’s interception with the Seahawks leading 20-3 in the third quarter — Seattle’s second pick of the game — looked like it was going to seal it. The defense faltered in the fourth quarter as Haskins found his rhythm through a combination of short passes and scrambles to lead Washington on two long touchdown drives and make it a game. However, the defense got the stop at the end that it needed, critically getting sacks on consecutive plays when Washington had moved within sniffing distance of the end zone for the potential winning TD.
It was another great day for Seattle’s special teams. Punter Michael Dickson was incredible, pinning Washington deep in its own territory on all four occasions. Kicker Jason Myers made both his 40-plus-yard field goals, giving him 31 straight made field goals to break the previous franchise record of 30 straight set by Olindo Mare. Coverage was solid on both kickoffs and punts, and Reed had one good punt return. The only blemish came when Reed nearly muffed a punt in the third quarter.
The Seattle coaches’ job in this one was straightforward: On offense Seattle needed to find a way to nullify Washington biggest strength, its tough front four; and on defense the Seahawks needed to force Haskins to show he could beat them through the air. Through three quarters this was going exactly as planned, as quick passing plays allowed Wilson to get rid of the ball quickly, and frequently dropping eight back in coverage dared Haskins to find holes in the zone, which he couldn’t. Washington made better adjustments late, as Seattle’s offense ran out of answers, and the Seahawks may have been fortunate there weren’t five more minutes on the clock.
It’s been a regular refrain for the Seahawks in the 2020 season: They just don’t handle prosperity well. A 17-point second-half lead against a team with a poor offense and using a back-up quarterback shouldn’t be a cause of concern, yet Seattle always seems to find a way to make games interesting at the end, no matter the circumstances. But the most important thing is the Seahawks won a road game against a team that had won four straight, and while it was a formality Seattle clinched a playoff spot. This now sets up next Sunday’s home game against the Los Angeles Rams as a probable winner-takes-all affair for the NFC West.
– Nick Patterson, Herald writer