The Seattle Seahawks have a pulse. With the season on the line, Seattle dug deep and bullied the New York Jets in a 23-6 rout. The game was never even this competitive, as the Jets were lost offensively following their third possession of the game.
Seattle’s defense, which has been gashed ever since the Tampa game in Munich, finally tightened up in a considerable way. Meanwhile, the Seahawks offense rediscovered their ground attack. Stifling defense, dominant ground game, crucial takeaways… sounds like everything Pete Carroll wants in a victory.
The Seahawks have improved to 8-8 on the year with still a chance to advance to postseason football, although they will need help. But, there is a chance.
Here are three Studs, one official Dud, and for the first time, a bonus Dud.
No. 1 Stud - Kenneth Walker III
Kenneth Walker has re-found his footing in a big way these last two weeks. Against the Chiefs, Walker rushed for 107 yards. A strong performance against Kansas City’s suspect defense is one thing, but to do so against the stout Jets is something else entirely.
Walker had a much more efficient outing on Sunday afternoon, clearing 133 on 23 carries. The play of the day for him came on the very first snap when he exploded for 60 yards to set up nicely in New York territory. Two plays later, Geno Smith found Colby Parkinson for a touchdown to claim an early lead they would not relinquish.
It was a solid day overall for Seahawks ball carriers, as the team rushed for 199 yards as a team.
No. 2 Stud - Darrell Taylor
It’s been a bit of a rocky start to Darrell Taylor’s career thus far, having struggled with injuries and making a consistent impact when healthy. The Seahawks drafted Taylor in 2020 with the hopes of him boosting a pass rush that has often been a considerable weakness for a few years.
In recent weeks, Taylor has shown he can absolutely be a piece to help the pass rush, and on Sunday, he had his best game of the season with 2.5 sacks, two quarterback hits, and a forced fumble.
Taylor may not be a feature, but with some additional help around him he can be a lethal contributor.
No. 1 Dud - Second half offense
The Seahawks started this game scoring hot offensively. Seattle’s first three possessions went as such: touchdown, field goal, touchdown. By the start of the second quarter, the Seahawks had built a commanding 17-3 lead over New York.
However, defense is what has defined the Jets season and after this they clamped down. Seattle’s following possessions were: punt, punt, field goal, punt, missed field goal, punt, field goal, and turnover on downs.
They did what they needed to do in order to win and protect the lead. For that they do deserve credit, especially against a solid unit like New York. However, Seattle’s offense left a little to be desired overall.
No. 3 Stud - The Secondary
The roller coaster for Seattle’s defense continues even into Week 17, but fortunately we’re at one of the peaks. The lion’s share of the credit needs to go to the secondary, who made life Hell for Jets quarterback Mike White.
On New York’s first possession, Quandre Diggs snagged his third interception on the season, becoming the only player in the NFL to have at least three interceptions in each of the last six seasons. Michael Jackson joined Diggs in the interception party, stealing one away late in the fourth. Jackson actually fumbled the ball on the return, but Tariq Woolen was there to bail out his teammate.
Before anyone rolls their eyes at beating up on a Jets quarterback, I would remind them Mike White has actually played reasonably well for New York. In his starts over Zach Wilson, the Jets offense has been more than competent. Seattle’s defense ended up making White play like Wilson, as he only completed 23-of-46 passes for 240 yards, no touchdowns and two picks.
Bonus Dud - The Minnesota Vikings, and Seattle's fading playoff hopes
I hate to be a wet blanket here, I sincerely do. The Seahawks did themselves a favor by winning in convincing fashion in a game they absolutely needed, and they got help from the Cleveland Browns who beat the Washington Commanders.
Unfortunately, while those elements were key pieces of the playoff puzzle, they were missing one crucial one: a Packers loss. Green Bay has somehow clawed themselves back from the dead and now control their own fate for the playoffs. This is problematic for the Seahawks, as the Packers own the tiebreaker with a better record against NFC teams than Seattle does. Meaning if the Packers and Seahawks finish with identical 9-8 records, Green Bay gets into the playoffs.
Enter: the Minnesota Vikings, winners of the NFC North and 12 games, including a dominant win over the Packers in Week 1. Seattle needed a Minnesota win, and the Vikings got taken to the cleaners in a 41-17 loss to Green Bay. Now the Seahawks not only need to beat the Rams in Week 18 (no small order) and hope the Detroit Lions beat or tie the Packers at Lambeau Field.