SEATTLE — Since 2012, the Seattle Seahawks have been superb from November to January, winning 30 of 36 regular-season games in those months prior to Sunday’s clash with Philadelphia at CenturyLink Field.
And the Seahawks never broke stride against the visiting Eagles, posting a 26-15 victory that raised Seattle’s five-year, late-season mark to 31-for-37. The victory, Seattle’s third in a row after an Oct. 30 loss at New Orleans, improves the Seahawks to 7-2-1 and gives them a three-game lead over Arizona (4-5-1) in the NFC West standings.
“We always want to play our best late in the season,” Seattle linebacker K.J. Wright explained after the game. “This is our time of the year. Every year we get this (late-season) momentum and we just keep building and stacking these wins up.”
“It’s a mindset,” agreed fellow linebacker Bobby Wagner. “We feel like we want to get stronger as the season goes on. A lot of teams start strong, but don’t finish. But we’re a team that prides ourselves on finishing, and that’s why in November and December we tend to excel. Because it’s finishing time.”
The Seahawks still trail Dallas (9-1), a 27-17 winner over Baltimore on Sunday, by 1½ games in the chase for the NFC’s top regular-season record. But the door is open to make up ground because Seattle, with six remaining games, faces only opponents with records of .500 or worse through Sunday the rest of the way.
By contrast, the Cowboys also have six games left, but their opponents all have records of .500 or better through Sunday.
“Coach Carroll always talks about how some teams lose their fundamentals, lose their discipline, lose their technique (late in the season),” Wright said. “But we just keep emphasizing to get better in those areas. We know what it takes to win and we just keep pushing as we go down the stretch.”
On Sunday, the Seahawks won by going in front to stay midway through the second quarter and building a big enough lead that a late Philadelphia touchdown was meaningless.
Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson passed for 272 yards and a touchdown, and even was on the receiving end of a 15-yard Doug Baldwin trick-play pass for a score; rookie running back C.J. Prosise had a dazzling 72-yard touchdown scamper; and Seattle’s defense thwarted the Eagles and rookie quarterback Carson Wentz on all but two of 13 offensive possessions.
“This was a good ballgame for us,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “Coming back after the big trip last week and getting a big win (at New England), playing good, hard football is what we intended to do. I thought across the board we played really good.”
There were, he added, “a lot of great things today.”
Still, the game was costly — and just how costly will emerge in the coming days. Defensive backs Earl Thomas and DeShawn Shead left the game with hamstring injuries, and Prosise is likely to miss a few weeks and perhaps longer with a shoulder injury.
But other injured players returned against the Eagles, such as running back Thomas Rawls and tight end Luke Willson, and others such as defensive end Michael Bennett and linebacker Mike Morgan are not far behind.
The Seahawks will make the last of their three East Coast road trips next weekend when they travel to Tampa Bay. After that, Seattle plays three of its final five games at home, with games against division rivals Los Angeles, Arizona and San Francisco in the regular season’s last three weeks.
“From this point on, every one of them is a huge game,” Carroll said. “Every one of them is going to be big hype and buildup and all that, and we need to be able to handle that well. And our guys did that today.”
Going forward, defensive end Cliff Avril said, “we can’t get complacent. We have to keep getting better and keep growing. We’re doing great, but there’s still a lot of things to correct and a lot of things we can get better at.”
“We’re still climbing and every week is a progression,” agreed safety Kam Chancellor. “We strive for perfection, but you can’t be perfect so it’s always a progression every week. Just getting better on the things we mess up on and the things we lack.
“It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish,” Chancellor pointed out. “And it’s about everybody getting stronger as a group. Getting stronger in film study, getting stronger in the weight room and getting stronger health-wise.
“And these are the months that it happens.”