The Seattle Seahawks came out swinging in their Week 7 matchup against the Los Angeles Chargers, going up 17-0 in the first quarter thanks to touchdowns by Marquise Goodwin and Kenneth Walker III. From that point on, it was an uphill battle for the Chargers, but halfway through the fourth quarter, Walker again broke away for a 74-yard score to put the Seahawks up 37-16 and seal the eventual 37-23 win.
Quarterback Geno Smith threw for just over 200 yards with two touchdowns and a pick. Tyler Lockett did lead the team in receptions with seven, though he only put up 45 yards. DK Metcalf was also somewhat absent from the game due to having to leave early with a knee injury. And despite all odds, seasoned veteran Goodwin was the standout receiver for Seattle. He hauled in four passes for 67 yards and both of Smith’s touchdowns.
Walker again demonstrated his potency out of the backfield, rushing for 168 yards and two touchdowns on 23 attempts. With the New York Jets running back Breece Hall going down with a season-ending injury, Walker has planted himself firmly in the conversation for Offensive Rookie of the Year, alongside New Orleans’ Chris Olave and Houston’s Dameon Pierce.
Seattle’s defensive front took quite the beating from the Chargers, though that’s to be expected with Austin Ekeler being their main offensive weapon. With 96 receiving yards, 31 rushing yards and two touchdowns, Ekeler accounted for over a third of Los Angeles’ offensive gains as he puts forth another exceptional season. With him removed from the conversation, the Seahawks secondary gave up under 200 yards to Justin Herbert and his receiving crew, thanks largely to the four pass deflections and an interception from Ryan Neal.
Suddenly, the 4-3 Seahawks are looking down on the rest of their division as they remain in sole possession of first place. The San Francisco 49ers took a brutal loss to the Kansas City Chiefs and the Arizona Cardinals beat the New Orleans Saints on Thursday Night Football, putting them both at 3-4. The Los Angeles Rams had their bye week, so they remained at 3-3 and are in second place.
It feels like ancient history when six wins was the preseason projected ceiling for this Seattle team, but they have figured out what it takes to win games. Their offense is a well-oiled machine and it’s hard to call it anything other than high-quality football. Meanwhile, the defense suddenly found themselves ahead of the curve when it came to how teams were adapting to a high-offense style of game.
Over the last couple of years, Seattle has emulated a “bend, don’t break” type of defense where they are sacrificing chunk plays over the middle in order to eliminate the long touchdown. That alone is only half the battle, because in the past couple of years, that philosophy would fail if the opposing team scored the touchdown. The second part of the puzzle, forcing turnovers, has finally grown as a part of Seattle’s defense. They forced two turnovers out of Herbert last week, and those plays can end up being the deciders in how the momentum swings on a given Sunday.
This team has emerged as fringe playoff candidates through strong, well-rounded play and a collective slumping by their divisional opponents. Next up on the schedule is a matinee versus the shockingly 5-1 New York Giants.