The Seahawks are perhaps the very definition of the .500 team that their 8-8 record says they are.
After Sunday’s 23-6 win over the Jets at Lumen Field, they have now scored 388 points for the year and allowed 385.
And they are now gaining an average of 5.7 yards per play and allowing 5.6.
So maybe it all makes sense that they are locked in a battle with two other 8-8 teams — the Packers and Lions — for the final playoff spot in the NFC.
But a Seattle win and Green Bay loss or tie against Detroit next week and, .500 record or not after 16 games — for years, the traditional length of an NFL season — the season will be an unqualified success.
On to the grades from a win that kept them alive for another week.
This wasn’t Geno Smith’s most spectacular statistical game. But then, that was to be expected going against a good Jets pass defense and with a banged-up receiver corps. Smith, though, made a few spectacular plays early — the TD throw to Colby Parkinson, the flip to DeeJay Dallas that set up the second touchdown — and from there all that was really needed was not turning the ball over. Smith did not throw a pick for the third time in the past eight games, a statistic as pivotal as any other Sunday.
Kenneth Walker III got 60 yards on his first carry of the game, and 11 on his third. He got 61 on his final 20 as the offense went into a little bit of hibernation after the early 17-3 lead. But that’s how running games often go — a lot of little runs helping to set up a few big ones at some point. And the result was the second-best game of his career with 133 yards on 23 carries. Dallas had the best game of his three seasons in Seattle with career highs in both rushing (43) and receiving (55), including the heady play to take the flip from Smith and turn it into a 41-yard gain.
You knew it would be a tough day for the receivers going against the Jets’ standout corners — Sauce Gardner and former Seahawk DJ Reed — and with Tyler Lockett coming off his hand injury. Seattle might still have expected more than this — five receptions for 33 yards on 11 targets from the team’s five active receivers. That includes just one catch for 3 yards from DK Metcalf. It’s almost hard to believe Seattle won with that production. Metcalf maybe should have had a catch on a third down in front of the Seattle sideline, and Seattle is going to have to get more production from him to go much further this season.
With the Jets paying so much attention to the receivers — and due to how good their corners are — it made sense for Seattle to feature the tight ends more, even without Will Dissly. And the Seahawks were able to make that plan work as the tight ends combined for eight receptions for 76 yards and two touchdowns — one by Colby Parkinson and the first ever catch and TD for Tyler Mabry. Noah Fant also had a 29-yarder that set up a first-quarter field goal.
This was a tough matchup going against a pretty stout Jets line, and especially tackle Quinnen Williams. And this wasn’t the prettiest offensive game ever as Smith was sacked four times and hit nine in 33 dropbacks. But the Seahawks got done what they needed, and Seattle’s 198 rushing yards are the most allowed this year by the Jets, with the Seahawks gaining 5.2 yards per attempt compared to New York’s season average allowed of 4.0. Given the opposition, this was one of the best days of the year for the line. And there didn’t seem much drop-off with Stone Forsythe getting his first career start at right tackle in place of an injured Abraham Lucas, which could be a really good sign for the future.
For a few series, it looked like some of the Seahawks’ season-long issues defending the run were creeping in again. But after allowing 56 yards on six attempts in the first quarter, the Seahawks gave up just 19 yards on 11 carries the rest of the game. The return of Al Woods made an obvious difference. And as the game wore on, the pass rush showed up with Seattle getting four sacks in the final three quarters — 2.5 by edge rusher Darrell Taylor and 1.5 by Quinton Jefferson, who now has a career-high 5.5. Taylor likewise has a career-high 8.5, one off Uchenna Nwosu for the team high.
Things changed dramatically with Jordyn Brooks leaving with a knee injury with just over five minutes to go in the second quarter. There was no official word on the severity afterwards, but it obviously looked ominous as he was carted off and immediately ruled out. But on this day, anyway, the Seahawks didn’t miss a beat as Cody Barton slid over to MLB and Tanner Muse came in for Barton at the weakside spot. Barton had six tackles but didn’t get credit for one on what might have been his best play, sniffing out a screen pass when the Jets were inside the 20 midway through the second quarter and clogging things up enough for others to come in and get the tackle for a 1-yard loss at a time when the outcome was still in some doubt. Muse finished with two tackles and a pass defended.
A really solid day with the caveat that the Jets have had QB issues all year and Mike White — making just his fourth start of the season and seventh of his career — seemed a little skittish and off-target throughout. Still, Seattle took advantage with two interceptions that each set up field goals, with one by Quandre Diggs in the first quarter when the Jets were at the Seattle 33 and the score was just 7-0 as big of a play as there was in the game. Michael Jackson had the other interception in the fourth quarter, the first of his career. Johnathan Abram got the start in place of the injured Ryan Neal at strong safety and acquitted himself pretty well. He had tight coverage on Denzel Mims on the play in which Diggs got his interception, and even if the Jets wanted pass interference, as the old saying goes, as long as they don’t call it…
Overall, a good day here as Michael Dickson pinned the Jets at the 1st and the 13 on two of his four punts while Jason Myers made three of four field goals. True, he missed one. But that was just his second of the year and he is now 30 of 32 for the season as well as 40 of 41 on points after touchdowns.