Takeaways from Seahawks 24-10 victory over Eagles

posted by Curtis Crabtree - 

Philadelphia Eagles v Seattle Seahawks

SEATTLE -- In the closing stages of the movie Independence Day, President Thomas Whitmore ascends to deliver a rallying cry before a last ditch battle against an invading alien race.

"We are fighting for our right to live. To exist," he proclaims. "And should we win the day, the Fourth of July will no longer be known as an American holiday, but as the day the world declared in one voice: We will not go quietly into the night! We will not vanish without a fight! We’re going to live on! We’re going to survive! Today we celebrate our Independence Day!

(It's cheesy, I know.)

The Seahawks were fighting for their playoff lives on Sunday night against a 10-1 Philadelphia Eagles team that had been the best in football through the first three months of the season. But, much like President Whitmore, the Seahawks decided they would not go quietly into the NFL night.

Despite being without three pivotal defensive starters for the rest of the season, the Seahawks limited in the league's highest-scoring offense to just 10 points and earned their best victory of the season, 24-10, over the Eagles.

It's the second time this season they've accomplished that feat, holding the Los Angeles Rams to just 10 points in a Week 5 victory when the Rams were the most explosive offense in football.

For a team that seemingly could have faded from relevance this season due to the significant losses to injury they've had, the Seahawks emphatically kept themselves right in the middle of the playoff debate. Another stellar outing from Russell Wilson was vital as well.

Here are four takeaways from Seattle's victory over the Eagles:

1. Russell Wilson was an absolute magician once again.

Wilson may be the only quarterback in the league that can do this.

The spacial awareness Wilson had to see Mike Davis running alongside him, draw the coverage of safety Corey Graham, and then deliver a perfect pitch to pick up a critical first down was unbelievable. The play kept alive a Seattle drive after the Eagles had scored to make it a one-score game with 12 minutes remaining.

"The little flip was awesome," head coach Pete Carroll said. "The awareness, point guard, the whole thing. Everything you've ever done in sports leads you to the moment to make that decision and then to do it and execute it like that. ... It was an amazing play."

Wide receiver Doug Baldwin said his reaction was probably the same as everyone else watching Wilson's lateral.

"Like 'Don't do that! Oh! Good play!'" Baldwin said. "I gave him some crap earlier. I told him that he had Paul open on the right side, he should have threw that first, but hell of a play by him. He was in the zone. I told him whatever that felt like, he's got to hold on to it because we need him to be in that mode for the rest of the season because if he does that we'll be unstoppable."

This third down conversion kept the drive alive before Wilson connected with J.D. McKissic for an 15-yard touchdown to seal the game away.

Wilson passed for 227 yards and three touchdowns with 31 rushing yards as well for the Seahawks. 

"We played lights out," Wilson said. "You can't play much better than how we played tonight and I think that's because of the work ethic that we have. December does matter. That's what championship teams do."

2. Bradley McDougald has been a pivotal hedge this season as a reserve.

Playing in place of Kam Chancellor, McDougald had a standout performance against the Eagles Sunday night.

McDougald was second of the team with 12 tackles and had a tackle for loss and two passes defended. He was vitally important in the running game to help limit the Eagles' second-ranked rushing attack to just 98 yards on 26 carries. 

Take out Carson Wentz's six rushes and Philadelphia running backs managed just 68 yards on 20 carries. 

McDougald was a big part of that equation.

"He had a big night," Carroll said. "He missed that one tackle on a third down shot, but he had 12 tackles for the night. That's a huge night of activity for him. He had their best guy (Zach Ertz) covered until he went out. Zach didn't do a lot early in the game. He got going a little bit in the third quarter. I think it was a tribute, really, to Bradley who played a very, very good football game."

Carroll had likened the addition of McDougald this offseason to the signings of Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett as free agents in 2013. It's not that McDougald is the same impact piece that Avril and Bennett were that year, but that the market had undervalued a player that Seattle felt they got for a bargain. In case Earl Thomas or Kam Chancellor got hurt (they both did), McDougald would be a proven replacement option.

With Chancellor out for the year, it created a big void for McDougald to fill. He's answered the call as seamlessly as possible for Seattle.

3. Mike Davis isn't churning up yardage, but it seems clear he's Seattle's best backfield option.

The Seahawks still don't have a 100-yard rusher this season. They barely eclipsed 100 yards rushing as a team tonight against Philadelphia.

However, Mike Davis has provided a shot of adrenaline to Seattle's rushing attack. He rushed for 4.0 yards per attempt on 16 carries for the Seahawks Sunday night. 

That may not seem particularly notable expect that Seattle has just two other instances this season of a running back averaging at least 4.0 yards per carry with double-digit rushes. Eddie Lacy managed 4.7 yards per carry against the Indianapolis Colts on 11 carries in Week 4 while Chris Carson managed 4.7 yards per carry against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 2.

Oh, and Davis managed to do this too.

Additionally, Davis has been an asset out of the backfield as a receiver as well. He caught four passes for 37 yards against the Eagles Sunday night.

"I thought he was a real spark," Carroll said. "The last time we saw him play before he hurt his groin, he did the same thing. That's what we got excited about. That's why we kind of jumped him ahead of the guys because we thought that he had something that just kind of made him more unique that the other guys at this time. He showed it again tonight. He had some beautiful runs in the open field."

Davis showed good vision and an ability to make defenders miss that has been lacking in Seattle's backfield most of the season.

The Eagles entered the game as the league's top-ranked rushing defense. Seattle gained 101 yards on the ground for the night on 25 carries. They are just the third team this season to rush for 100 yards against the Eagles, joining the Kansas City Chiefs and Dallas Cowboys.

While he's not going to single-handedly solve the Seahawks' rushing issues, he has clearly shown he deserves the chance to get the most touches right now.

4. Penalties have decreased sharply the last two weeks.

Who knows if it's sustainable. The first 10 games of the season would suggest it's not. However, the Seahawks have not been penalized nearly as often in games against the 49ers and Eagles the last two weeks.

The Seahawks were flagged just five times for 46 yards against the Eagles, and only six times for 35 yards against San Francisco last week. Even combining the two games, 11 for 81, would have been less than some of Seattle's showing earlier this season.

"It was a really good night. Our guys did a great job," Carroll said. "The last two weeks is a big change. It will absolutely make a difference in this finish run, in this fourth quarter of the season coming up, if we can continue to do that." 

Seattle had committed at least seven penalties in every game this season before the trip to the Bay Area last week. They had double-digit penalties in five games and flirted with franchise records for penalties and penalty yards with 16 penalties for 138 yards against the Washington Redskins earlier this season.

"We're averaging five-and-a-half a game in the last two weeks, so we're really on a roll right now," Carroll said.


Photo Credit: SEATTLE, WA - DECEMBER 03: Defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson #91 of the Seattle Seahawks causes quarterback Carson Wentz #11 of the Philadelphia Eagles to fumble the ball for a touchback in the third quarter at CenturyLink Field on December 3, 2017 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

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