Here’s how the Seattle Seahawks grade out in their 23-17 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday night at Lincoln Financial Field:
Seattle came into the game averaging a league-leading 31.8 points per game, but never got firing on all cylinders against a Philadelphia team with a strong front four. There were bright spots. The Eagles tried to cover receiver DK Metcalf one-on-one, and that proved to be a disaster as Metcalf went off for 177 yards on 10 catches. And the return of running back Chris Carson from injury made a difference, as shown by his “I’m back” 16-yard touchdown run in which he carried multiple defenders over the goal line. But the 301 yards were a season low, and the inability to convert fourth-and-short on the first two possessions allowed the Eagles to hang close.
Monday’s game saw Seattle’s defense continue to trend in the right direction following the previous week’s good showing against Arizona. The Seahawks forced the Eagles into five straight three-and-outs to start the game, sacked Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz six times, and held Philadelphia to 250 yards, by far the fewest Seattle has allowed in a game this season. OK, maybe it wasn’t against the strongest of offenses — the Eagles are lacking offensive playmakers, while a slumping Wentz struggled to get off his first read — and allowing the late TD took a little of the luster off the performance. But Seattle still held the Eagles to their joint-lowest point total of the season.
Seattle was mostly clean on special teams. Punter Michael Dickson averaged 52.0 yards on his three punts, and kicker Jason Myers made his three field goals comfortably. The return game was mostly a wash, with neither team breaking anything resembling a game-changing return until a late Philadelphia kick return that had little relevance on the outcome. David Moore’s hesitancy on punt returns saw him replaced by D.J. Reed in the second quarter.
Seattle’s coaches couldn’t get out of their own way in the first quarter. The decisions to go for it on fourth-and-goal from the 2 and fourth-and-2 from the Philly 37 were both defensible. But the play calls, and particularly the jet sweep to Moore at the goal line, were head scratchers. After that the play calling improved considerably, especially the decision to throw the ball up for Metcalf and let him go get it over a smaller defender. Defensively it was a good game plan to crowd the box as Wentz was no threat to beat the Seahawks deep. But one has to ask why a team that seemed clearly superior to its opponent only won by one score.
This game was a mismatch, yet the Seahawks struggled to put it away, and at halftime it sure felt like those Seattle games earlier in the season when the Seahawks seemed to get destroyed in the first half, yet still found themselves within striking distance. But Seattle got the victory, and on a weekend in which NFC West rivals Los Angeles and Arizona both lost, the Seahawks regained first place in the division. With more hapless NFC East foes on the docket, along with a visit from the winless New York Jets, Seattle remains in great position for playoff seeding.
– Nick Patterson, Herald writer