RENTON -- After a second consecutive thrilling overtime victory for the Seahawks, the team gets to take the next week to rest before returning for a challenging stretch drive over the final six weeks of the season.
Five of the six games left on Seattle's schedule come against teams currently over .500, including a Week 17 rematch with the San Francisco 49ers in Seattle that could be for the NFC West crown.
It helps that the Seahawks are coming off of their most encouraging defensive performance of the season.
Head coach Pete Carroll said Tuesday that Seattle saw its best game from the safety position all season with Quandre Diggs joining Bradley McDougald in the starting lineup and the best showing from the pass rush all season anchored by a phenomenal performance from Jadeveon Clowney.
Pass rush roars into form. Is it a one-off performance or a real progression?:
Defensive end Jadeveon Clowney spearheaded a stellar showing from Seattle's defensive front on Monday night in Santa Clara.
The defense sacked Jimmy Garoppolo five times and delivered 10 quarterback hits on the night. Two of the sacks turned into fumbles recovered by the Seahawks for key turnovers that set up touchdowns for Seattle. Clowney returned one fumble for a touchdown to break the 49ers first half momentum and Poona Ford's fumble recovery in the third quarter led to a 1-yard Chris Carson touchdown run that gave Seattle a 21-10 lead.
"Clowney, really, was the guy that was key to it all," Carroll said. "We played off of him. I think it was the complement of other guys being back. We haven’t had Quinton Jefferson in quite a while, and he was doing well early. Just getting a lot of guys back going again. Also, Mychal Kendricks had a little factor in there, too. He had a couple, three pressures or something.”
It was just the second time this season Seattle had managed five sacks in a game along with the season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals. Most of the team's games this season has resulted in fewer than two sacks. Fourteen of Seattle's 20 sacks this season have come in just three games (Cincinnati, Arizona, San Francisco).
"I’m totally counting on it," Carroll said when asked if that type of showing can continue. "I’m counting on it. I’m hoping we can take the step forward and really bring a really active pass rush like the guys that we were saying. We’ve got good guys. We’ve got good blitzers and all that. It’s just been kind of quiet, just uncomfortably quiet for a while. What happened before doesn’t matter. Let’s go do something now and see if we can take off from this week.”
Carroll also said the play at the safety position from Quandre Diggs and Bradley McDougald was the best they'd seen from the position all year.
"I thought both the safeties played really well. I thought B Mac [Bradley McDougald] played well, too, and was very active in this game. I think the settling presence of a veteran [in Diggs] and also, he’s a hitter. He’s a real hitter and he goes for it. He had a couple big shots. Had a big shot in the toss. Had a couple shots on receivers that I think had a factor later on in the game. Bradley had a couple hits, too. You combine what they did, I thought the safety play was the best we’ve seen it this year. I thought that was the best game that our safeties have played. I’m hoping that we can continue to grow and get better and feed off it."
Fumbles are still a major concern for Carroll: "We won't have a chance if this keeps going on."
The Seahawks fumbled five times Monday night against the 49ers with three of those balls recovered by San Francisco for turnovers. The fumbles brought Seattle's season total for lost fumbles to 11 through 10 games, which is the second-most of any team in the league behind only the 14 lost fumbles of the New York Giants.
"It is the most emphasized aspect of our program but, it isn’t good enough. We aren’t doing it well enough. Our guys aren’t buying in well," Carroll said on Tuesday.
The Seahawks have never lost more than 11 fumbles in an entire season under Carroll's tenure. Seattle lost 11 fumbles in 2010 during Carroll's first season as head coach. They had just five lost fumbles last season and just six in 2017. The Seahawks have 11 lost fumbles through just 10 games already this year.
"Hopefully this stretch will change this," Carroll said. We won’t have a chance. We won’t have a chance if this keeps going on. You can’t win like that. We’re so fortunate. Think how fortunate we are to win that game, that tight of a game, and kick the ball all over the field. Terrible.”
Both running backs - Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny - fumbled against the 49ers with Penny's recovered by San Francisco. Russell Wilson was sacked and fumbled with the ball going into the arms of right tackle Germain Ifedi, who was subsequently stripped as well leading to a DeForest Buckner touchdown that got the 49ers back in the game. And DK Metcalf fumbled at the 2-yard line trying to barrel through multiple defenders inton the end zone before halftime.
Carroll was thoroughly not amused by Ifedi's brief stint as a running back.
"There's a really good chance that he's going to go down with that ball if he gets it in his hands again," Carroll said.
However, Carroll indicated some further conversations about situational awareness are necessary and pointed to Metcalf's fumble as a prime example.
"I sat with DK on the plane last night talking for some time talking about how he has to decipher when it’s time and when it isn’t time to keep battling," Carroll said. "He’s been in the situation a few times already. He’s so strong that he just doesn’t go down. It does allow for a lot of guys to get a shot at him and we can’t let that happen. We’re talking about tailoring the way, this is something we’re learning as we’re going with the guy how it’s going to work out.
"There’s a real presence of mind that’s crucial in protecting the football. You have to know when to go with the way that the attack is coming on you. He doesn’t quite have that yet. He’s fighting and tough as hell. He’s hard to get down. That makes him vulnerable. That was an incredible play. He almost scored a touchdown right there. He shouldn’t have even been close, but that made him vulnerable. It’s already underway to make some better decisions than that.”
Tyler Lockett expected to be OK after another night in Bay Area; Luke Willson has "legit" hamstring injury:
Seahawks wide receiver Tyler Lockett will spend a second night at a Stanford hospital for precautionary reasons after sustaining a severe contusion to his shin in Monday night's win over the 49ers.
There was some concern about possible compartment syndrome complications, but it appears as though Lockett has avoided major complications.
“He’s going to stay another day, he’ll be there again tonight just for precautionary reasons,” Carroll said. “He’s better than he was yesterday. Our people think he’s going to be fine to play. He’ll need the rest of this week to make sure everything goes away, but he should be fine to play next week.”
Lockett will have the extra week to get back to full speed with the Seahawks off on their bye this week.
Meanwhile, tight end Luke Willson has "a legit" hamstring injury that will likely keep him sidelined at least a couple of weeks.
“Luke’s got a legitimate hamstring,” Carroll said. “Legit meaning it’s not just a little cramp or something; it showed up in the MRI testing of it. So it might be a couple of weeks for him, we’ll have to wait and see.”
Willson appeared to be injured on one of the team's final offensive snaps of the first half and did not return to the game. Ed Dickson has practiced the last two weeks while getting up to speed off injured reserve. Carroll said he's ready to go and would help fill the hole created by Willson's injury.
“He’s ready to go,” Carroll said. “Fortunately if Luke is unable to play, then we like to think we could go right to Ed and get him rolling.”
Eagles-Seahawks game moved from to 10 a.m. kickoff:
The next game for the Seahawks against the Philadelphia Eagles will be a 10 a.m. kickoff instead of the previously scheduled 5:20 p.m. kick.
As a part of the NFL's flexible scheduling, the league has moved the Green Bay Packers at San Francisco 49ers game into the Sunday night slot in place of the Seahawks-Eagles contest. Seattle had been scheduled to play four straight prime-time games prior to the move with Monday night's win over the 49ers being the first of the four-game stretch.
With the New England Patriots at Dallas Cowboys game set for an afternoon kickoff slot, the movement of the Seahawks-Eagles game to the early window gives the NFL a marquee matchup in each of the three broadcast windows that weekend.
The Week 14 meeting between the Seahawks and Los Angeles Rams could also eventually be moved out of the Sunday night window. However, the Week 17 rematch between the 49ers and Seahawks in Seattle could just as easily end up in the prime-time window on the final weekend with a possible division title on the line.
Photo Credit: SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 11: Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo #10 of the San Francisco 49ers is tackled by the defense of the Seattle Seahawks during the game at Levi's Stadium on November 11, 2019 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)