4 takeaways from Seattle’s 21-20 win over Arizona

For a second consecutive season, the Seattle Seahawks have finished the season 9-8 thanks to a dramatic win over a division rival in regular season finale. In many ways, the 2022 and 2023 campaigns are near-perfect carbon copies of one another, even coming down to how they ended the regular season. Last year, the Seahawks needed a game-winning field goal in overtime to beat the Rams. This time, Seattle needed a potential game-winning field goal to miss.

Unfortunately, the one difference here is the fact there was no miracle upset at Lambeau Field. The Packers did something they were incapable of doing for the last three consecutive seasons: win a must-win game at home. Thus, the Seahawks are eliminated, but ended the year with a winning record.

This takeaways piece will cover aspects of the game, but at this point, what else is there to say? The Seahawks were gashed on the ground to the tune of 206 rushing yards, were outgained in total yards 466-327, lost the time of possession battle 36:03 to 23:57, but somehow made enough plays at the end to win. This sums up most of Seattle’s games from the last two years.

Here are the top takeaways from the Seahawks’ 21-20 win:

What does the future hold?

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

It’s impossible to think about anything else after this one. Before the game kicked off, there was already an unusual amount of rumblings regarding head coach Pete Carroll’s future with the Seahawks. An article from Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero went into detail about his contract, as well as how Seattle’s ownership always updates any “contingency plans” should Carroll decide to retire. It even mentioned how owner Jody Allen always meets with Carroll at the end of the season.

What could be the impetus of such a story? Some online believe this may have been Carroll’s last game in Seattle. Could the article be laying the groundwork for a potential Carroll retirement/step down in lieu of firing? Or was this game an “audition” of sorts to see how Carroll’s team finished?

The perpetually energetic Carroll has never hinted at retirement, and it seems unlikely the Seahawks would fire him two years into a rebuild after they chose him over Russell Wilson. Still, the timing is curious.

Let the record reflect that I do hope Pete Carroll remains Seattle’s head coach for 2024. But major changes and tough conversations are needed because…

The Seahawks are not as close as we hoped

Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

…it’s painfully clear there is still a long ways to go to returning to contender status. Perhaps the Seahawks were victims of their own success last year, finishing 9-8 instead of having the downtrodden season many expected. It’s undeniable 2023 came with considerably higher expectations given their offseason moves in free agency, the draft, and the trade deadline.

Jarran Reed and Bobby Wagner (more on him later) were brought back. Dre’Mont Jones was signed from Denver. Leonard Williams was acquired at the deadline. Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Zach Charbonnet were added to give an already explosive offense more juice. Surely these moves, and a full offseason with Clint Hurtt as defensive coordinator to grow more, would give Seattle a better chance!

What ended up being the result was a revelation that a sizable gap exists between them and San Francisco, a healthy Rams team still owns them, and the defense is just as atrocious as ever. Despite tantalizing pieces on both sides of the ball, the offense lacked an identity this whole year and the defense looked outright soft and lacked any fundamentals when it came to tackling.

Geno Smith: comeback king

Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Last year, Geno Smith was named the Comeback Player of the Year. It seems he has lived up to his name in more ways than one. Smith may not have had the gaudy numbers he did last year, but one could argue no other quarterback was as clutch as him in the entire NFL.

Smith engineered his league-leading game-winning drive today. As he did so against Detroit, Cleveland, Washington, and Tennessee, Arizona learned there was too much time left on the clock for Smith.

Smith’s late game heroics are also historic, per Brady Henderson:

Bobby Wagner: first ballot Hall of Famer

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

When one thinks of all time great NFL linebackers, there are several names that immediately come to mind. Ray Lewis. Lawrence Taylor. Jack Lambert. Derrick Thomas. Dick Butkus. Now, there is one more name that will surely be at the top of lists to come:

Bobby Wagner.

Defensive veterans who have spent 12 years in the NFL don’t typically look great, let alone excel at their position. Yet here we are. At age 33, Bobby Wagner now leads the NFL in total tackles for the third time in his career with 183… one shy of tying Jordyn Brooks’ franchise record of 184 set in 2021.

Wagner also moves into an even more exclusive club. Wagner has now become the 15th player in the history of the sport to record 1,000+ solo tackles.

The Seahawks legend fully expects to play in 2024, and why wouldn’t he? Hopefully, it will still be in Seattle.

Story originally appeared on Seahawks Wire