Seahawks unexpectedly reach Week 18 with chance at playoffs
Seattle Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith (7) leaves the field after an NFL football game against the New York Jets, Sunday, Jan. 1, 2023, in Seattle. The Seahawks defeated the Jets 23-6.
AP Photo/Ted S. Warren
| January 3, 2023 3:38 PM
RENTON, Wash. (AP) — The idea that the Seattle Seahawks would go into Week 18 with a chance at the playoffs seemed ludicrous back during training camp.
At that point, the Seahawks were expected to be among the worst teams in the league this season.
So credit is due to Pete Carroll and his players for being in this position after Sunday's 23-6 win over the New York Jets improved Seattle to 8-8 and kept its playoff hopes alive for one more week.
It's been a rocky path to get to this point, filled with unexpected win streaks and untimely losing stretches.
Seattle beating the Los Angeles Rams in Week 18 won't be enough. Seattle needs a win and a Detroit victory over Green Bay to make the postseason a reality.
And even that came with a level of scrutiny after the league announced the Week 18 schedule on Monday and has Seattle in the afternoon and Detroit and Green Bay as the Sunday night game. If Seattle wins, Detroit would be eliminated from playoff contention.
Carroll did his part in downplaying any concern about the games not being played simultaneously.
"I know that there's been maybe some question about the order of the games being played on Sunday or whatever and that doesn't mean anything to me," Carroll said. "We don't care about that one bit. It's not going to change anything that we're doing. We're going for it. And then maybe there would be a pretty good party afterward to watch the next game."
The Seahawks have rediscovered success in the run game. After weeks of struggling, it showed up in the second half of Seattle's loss at Kansas City in Week 16 and was fully on display for four quarters in the win over the Jets. It helped when Kenneth Walker III went 60 yards on the first play of the game, but Seattle's other 37 runs went for 138 yards, an average of 3.7 yards per rush.
That's the kind of production the Seahawks have been missing to keep the offense balanced and take some of the stress off Geno Smith in the pass game.
Walker finished with 133 yards.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
There will be a level of regret for the Seahawks finding themselves in the position of needing help in Week 18. Especially troubling will be the home losses in Week 3 to Atlanta and Week 12 to Las Vegas. A win in either and the Seahawks would have their postseason chances in their control.
Tyler Mabry has spent big chunks of the past three seasons on Seattle's practice squad. He got a brief run on the active roster during the 2021 season, but had a grand total of 22 offensive snaps and never had a pass thrown his direction.
After spending all of this season on the practice squad, Mabry was thrust into an important role on Sunday with Will Dissly out because of a knee injury. Mabry played just three offensive snaps, but his biggest came in the second quarter on a second-and-goal. Mabry slipped between a couple of defenders, turned and hauled in Smith's pass for his first career catch and a 7-yard TD reception.
It was Mabry's first TD since his final season of college at Maryland.
LB Jordyn Brooks put up some major numbers this season, but his season came to an end with a torn ACL in his right knee. Brooks is third in the league with 161 combined tackles.
The concern for Seattle is the length of the recovery could eat into a big chunk of next season and overall uncertainty at the position. Brooks will be entering his fourth season and Seattle will need to make an offseason decision on whether to pick up his fifth-year option.
Adding to the complexity of the situation is Cody Barton, who will take over at middle linebacker this week, will be a free agent after the season.
Some defensive changes were expected for Seattle this offseason, but major changes at linebacker likely weren't on the list.
Along with Brooks it appears guard Phil Haynes will not play in Week 18 because of a high ankle sprain. Carroll said right tackle Abraham Lucas (knee) and Travis Homer (ankle) have a chance to play after being inactive against the Jets. Ryan Neal (knee) won't be known until later in the week.
Carroll also said Tyler Lockett seemed better Monday after sitting part of the game after getting a contusion on his lower leg. Lockett was hit in the area where he suffered a fracture several years ago.
3 — Seattle safety Quandre Diggs intercepted his third pass of the season in the first quarter on Sunday. He's the only player in the league with at least three interceptions in each of the past six seasons.
Seattle will face the Rams for the second time in a little more than a month. But it's a new-look than the team the Seahawks faced in early December with Baker Mayfield expected to be the starting QB.