Before the kickoff of the 2017 regular season: Seattle earned playoff berths in 5 consecutive seasons, with 2 Super Bowl appearances and 1 Super Bowl ring. Plus, all of their heavy hitters were back to make another championship run. This team was stacked with household names: Michael Bennett, Jimmy Graham, Richard Sherman, Doug Baldwin, Bobby Wagner, Kam Chancellor, Earl Thomas and top tier QB Russell Wilson.
Also, Seattle’s AFC West rivals were looking bad and mediocre coming into 2017. Arizona was coming off an underachieving season after winning under 10 games and missing the playoffs for the first time since 2012. The 49ers 2016 season was one that San Francisco would love to forget as they only won 2 games in Chip Kelly’s first and last season as head coach. The Rams were coming off a 4 win season, had not made the playoffs since 2004, Jeff Fisher was fired for the youngest head coach in NFL history in 31 year old Sean McVay and Jared Goff was looking like a bust. Comedian HaHa Davis would say, “Seattle’s quest to win another NFC West crown is going to be a breeze…”
Week 13 vs Eagles: The Seahawks were having a decent season with 7 wins and 4 losses but a huge test was coming to CenturyLink Field in Seattle as the red hot 10 – 1 Eagles were arriving with MVP candidate Carson Wentz and that smothering Philly defense. In the 3rd quarter, the Eagles had the ball down 10 – 3 facing 2nd and goal to go at the 6 yard line. The phenomenal Carson Wentz decided to scrabble up the middle for a touchdown but Legion of Boom safety Earl Thomas forced Wentz to fumble the ball out of the back of the end zone for a touchback. That huge play led to a 47 yard bomb pass from Wilson to Doug Baldwin to contribute to a 17 – 3 Seattle lead. Those sequence of plays is the main reason why the Soaring Eagle’s 9 game winning streak came to an end on that Sunday night.
Russell Wilson was magnificent versus Fletcher Cox and that elite defense by throwing for 227 yards, 3 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. Also, The Seahawk defense contributed with an excellent performance despite losing Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor to season ending injuries. The Seahawk defense recorded 3 sacks, 2 takeaways and held the Eagles to their least amount of points scored under Carson Wentz in the season.
Weeks 14 – 16 Getting Kicked Out, Blown Out and Bizarre: It seemed like Seattle was hell-bent on forming another playoff push but they would lose 3 out of their next four games. They followed that dominating victory over the Eagles with a loss in Jacksonville and lost their cool at the end of that game as Michael Bennett and Quinton Jefferson were ejected. The Seahawks followed that loss by getting annihilated 42 – 7 by the surprising Rams in Seattle with the 12th Man crew watching in disbelief.
However, the Hawks bounced back from that humiliating loss by pulling an upset in Dallas to spoil Ezekiel Elliot’s return from his 6 game suspension. But despite earning a victory over the Cowboys, television cameras caught Seahawk’s safety Earl Thomas entering bizarre land by trying to convince the Cowboys to sign him up. After the game, Earl Thomas chased down Cowboy’s coach Jason Garret and said, “Come get me.” Now that had to be extremely disappointing for Seahawk fans to see. Even after a win, things were looking discouraging for Seattle but they could rectify everything in the final regular season game versus the mediocre 7 – 8 Arizona Cardinals in Seattle.
Week 17 vs Cardinals: Seattle knew a loss in their season finale against Arizona and their backup QB Drew Stanton would eliminate them from the playoffs. The rowdy 12th Man crowd was stunned as the Cardinals jumped out to a 20 – 7 halftime lead. Russell Wilson’s offense was dominated as the only Seattle score in the 1st half came off a 99 yard Tyler Lockett kick return touchdown.
But the Seahawks wouldn’t go quietly in the night as they erased that Arizona lead after Wilson threw a perfect 29 yard touchdown pass to Doug Baldwin to put Seattle up 24 – 23. On the ensuing possession, the Cardinals had the ball with 6 minutes left in the ballgame. They faced a 3rd and 7 from their own 17 yard line then Stanton threw an incomplete pass to JJ Nelson as Seattle’s 12th Man could feel another playoff berth coming. But wait… roughing the passer on Bobby Wagner to deliver the 1st down to the Cardinals. That penalty was an immaculate representation of the Seahawks season as they led the NFL in penalties per game. That egregious penalty led to a 42 yard field goal by Phil Dawson to give Arizona a 26 – 24 lead with 2 minutes and 20 seconds to left.
Seattle fought back with big yardage receptions by Jimmy Graham and Doug Baldwin to put the Seahawks in field goal range with 20 seconds left. But Blair Walsh’s 48 yard field goal sailed wide right and assured that the Seahawks would be home for the playoffs for the first time since the 2011 season.
Where do they go from here? The intimidation of Seattle’s raucous 12th Man crowd at CenturyLink Field has subsided as the Seahawks lost half of their games at home (their most losses since 2011). The Hawks still hasn’t recovered from Marshawn ‘Beast Mode’ Lynch’s decision to leave the team after being shunned by Pete Carroll in their infamous failure to hand him the ball at the goal line in the 2015 Super Bowl. And Eddie Lacy as his replacement was an epic fail, as he only played in 9 games and gained only 19.8 yards per game.
The Seahawks tried to make offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell the scapegoat by firing him at the end of the season. But Seattle needs to give a long critical look at general manager John Schnieder. The Seahawks was the 3rd worse team in the NFL in QB hits allowed and Russell Wilson led his squad in rushing yards. If Schnieder and friends wants to decrease the incredible amount of hits Russell Wilson takes, they will find some solid offensive linemen and legitimate running backs through free agency and the draft to lighten load for their franchise quarterback.