With last Sunday’s dominant 38-7 victory over the Minnesota Vikings, the Seattle Seahawks have won three consecutive games and thrust themselves firmly into the NFC playoff race. Along the way, they may also have changed the team’s identity.
Even in the years preceding the team’s back-to-back Super Bowls appearances, the Seahawks were a blend of dominant defense and opportunistic offense and special teams. The Seahawks defense has finished in the top 5 in total defense for the last three full seasons, the last two ranked as number one. This year, the Seahawks’ D is again in the top five, ranked second behind only the Denver Broncos.
So, while the defense is still showing strength, it’s the Seattle offense that is drawing attention. In the past three weeks, the Seahawks have put up 106 total points, and with the scoring punch, they’ve burst into the top 10 in the NFL in points scored. It’s led even Tony Dungy to speculate that the Seahawks might now be considered an offensive team.
— NFL (@NFL) December 8, 2015
Russell Wilson shining
Quarterback Russell Wilson is on pace to shatter numerous club records, and his performance in the last three games indicates he’s playing the best football of his four-year career. In the span of just 15 days, Wilson threw for 879 yards in the Seahawks’ three victories, with 11 touchdowns and zero interceptions.
A big key in Wilson’s recent run has been getting the ball to receivers in a position to make a big play, and he has averaged double-digits in yards per passing attempt in all three victories, something he accomplished only once in the previous nine games.
Sunday, Wilson looks to continue his hot streak on the road against the Baltimore Ravens, who rank 19th in the NFL in passing defense, giving up an average of 243.9 yards per game.
If NFL observers knew going into the season that stud running back Marshawn Lynch would miss five complete games and have only 417 yards rushing and three touchdowns by mid-December, they surely would have predicted a record far below the Seahawks current 7-5 mark. The Seahawks can thank rookie Thomas Rawls for potentially saving the season.
Rawls has been a revelation for the Seahawks, as he has rushed for 786 yards on 141 carries (a 5.6 yards per carry average, caught nine balls for 76 yards, scored a total of five touchdowns and proven accountable in both blocking for Wilson and holding onto the football. Not a poor performance for and unheralded and undrafted free agent out of Central Michigan.
When starting for Lynch, Rawls has passed the 100-yard mark four times, with 81 yards in the fifth outing. With Lynch still out of the lineup, Rawls will continue be looked upon to carry to load.
Receivers as a big play threat
Maybe no one has been as critical of the Seahawks’ receiving corps as this writer, and as of late, Wilson and the squad have been out to prove me wrong. Doug Baldwin has exploded in recent games, catching five touchdowns the past two games, and catching 37 total passes in the last five games. For the season Baldwin has 55 receptions and is on his way for a career high in receptions and yards – and already has a career–high with eight touchdowns.
Tight end Jimmy Graham was just seemingly just getting comfortable in the Seahawks offense before suffering a season-ending patellar tendon injury in his right knee two weeks ago. But if Luke Willson can fill his shoes and Jermaine Kearse can find opportunities to contribute, the Seahawks corps – despite being short a clear number one receiver – will offer up a nice complement to Wilson and Rawls.
Offense line picking it up
Early in the season, the Seahawks’ offensive line was horrible in pass protection, and if it wasn’t for Wilson’s magical ability to escape, they likely would be on pace to establish a new NFL record for sacks allowed.
While the Seahawks have allowed 39 sacks so far this season, tied for second-worst in the NFL, they’ve only allowed two sacks in each of the last three games. If they can keep Wilson’s uniform clean down the stretch, the Seahawks will be a contender for another NFC crown and a Super Bowl berth.
But, if they make it to a third-straight Super Bowl, it may be the first times as an offensive powerhouse.
Photo Credit: Hannah Foslien/Getty Images
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