National Post (National Edition)
Seahawks' defence goes from awful to awesome
Let's be clear. The Seattle Seahawks defence stank earlier this season. It doesn't anymore.
Following a disheartening 44-34 loss at Buffalo on Nov. 8, the Seahawks were allowing the following awful per-game averages, at precisely the midway point of the season:
❚ 30.4 points
❚ 27.8 first downs
❚ 455.8 total yards
❚ 362.1 pass yards
How bad was all that? Consider that each of the latter three marks was on pace to shatter the NFL's single-season record. And the fewest total yards the Seahawks allowed through Week 6 was 415.
Seattle's defensive-specialist head coach Pete Carroll was livid following that blowout loss in Buffalo, a game that was far less competitive than the final 10-point deficit suggested.
“It's such an out-of-character game across the board that I don't even recognize us,” Carroll said then of his defence.
Now fast-forward eight weeks. Guess what? The Seahawks defence is playing about as well as any team's. Over the seven games since that defeat in Buffalo, Seattle's per-game averages in the same statistics as above have plummeted, to the following:
❚ 15.0 points (No. 1 in the NFL in that stretch)
❚ 19.6 first downs
❚ 302.1 total yards (No. 3)
❚ 203.0 pass yards (No. 6)
That 's an incredible in-season turnaround.
Another barometer: Seattle had been sacking the opposing quarterback 2.4 times a game through Week 9. Since then, 3.4 sacks per game — tied for best in the league.
What's more, per Seahawks.com, over the past seven games Seattle's defence ranks third in the NFL in opponent yards-per-play (4.6) and fifth in opponent passer rating (78.3).
Indeed, the most total yards the Seahawks have allowed in the past six games is 353.
All that improvement was on full display in Seattle's crucial 20-9 home-field defeat of the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday. In allowing only three field goals the Seahawks improved to 11-4, and clinched their first NFC West title since 2016.
“There were times during the season where everybody had enough statistics to go ahead and blow us out, like we weren't worth anything on defence,” Carroll said Sunday, per Seahawks.com. “But this defence is good, and they've shown it, and they've declared it. ”
Seahawks defenders pressured Rams quarterback Jared Goff on 24 drop-backs, the most in his five-year career according to ESPN Stats & Information.
It isn't only against the pass that the Seattle defence is now miles better. In what has to stand as one of the great goal-line stands in franchise history, the Seahawks late in the third quarter denied the Rams a touchdown on four consecutive runs inside the Seattle five-yard line: from the two-yard line, the four, the one and the one.