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RECAP: ’Hawks back in playoffs, Kraken winning on the road

by IAN BIVONA
Sports Reporter | January 11, 2023 2:42 PM

SEATTLE — The Seattle Seahawks got some help from the Detroit Lions to lock up their fourth postseason appearance in the previous five seasons on Sunday, while the Seattle Kraken just keep winning on the road. Check out this week’s professional sports recap for both of the squads.

Seahawks

After a one-year hiatus, the Seattle Seahawks are back in the playoffs, clinching a bid after the Detroit Lions defeated Green Bay to give Seattle the No. 7 seed in the NFC bracket. Now, they prepare for their third meeting of the season against the No. 2 seed San Francisco 49ers, who swept the Seahawks in their regular season matchups.

Along with needing a Detroit win to qualify for the postseason, the Seahawks first had to handle business against the then-5-11 Los Angeles Rams – easier said than done, apparently. Seattle Quarterback Geno Smith’s first pass of the game fell into the hands of Los Angeles cornerback Jalen Ramsey, who jumped a route and set up the Rams deep in Seattle territory. The two squads traded field goals through the first 26 minutes of the game, and a touchdown run on an end-around gave the Rams a 13-6 lead at the half.

Seattle mustered 126 net yards of offense in the first half, but more than doubled that with a 276-net-yard performance in the second half. While the Seahawks moved the ball more effectively in the final 30 minutes, they only outscored the Rams 10-3 in the second half to set up a potential game-winning drive with under a minute remaining, but Jason Myers’ 46-yard field goal hit the right upright to send the game into overtime.

Following a Seattle punt to begin the overtime period, Seahawks safety Quandre Diggs sprinted across the field to intercept a pass, leading to a game-winning drive for the Seahawks to give them playoff hope.

Upon the completion of Sunday’s game, Smith set Seattle franchise single-season records in passing yards (4,282), completions (399), passing attempts (572) and completion percentage (69.76%). Smith also joined Russell Wilson and Dave Krieg as Seattle quarterbacks to throw for 30 or more touchdown passes in a single season.

Rookie running back Kenneth Walker III notched another 100-yard rushing performance on Sunday, finishing with 114 yards on 29 carries. Walker finished the season leading all rookies in rushing yards with 1,050, the first Seahawk rookie to finish with over 1,000 rushing yards since Curt Warner ran for 1,449 yards in his 1983 rookie season.

Troubles defending the run resurfaced against the Rams, who rushed for 146 yards on Sunday. The Seahawks had come off of back-to-back performances keeping opponents to under 80 rushing yards, and will be tested against the 49ers on Saturday. In Seattle’s Week 2 and Week 15 matchups against San Francisco, the 49ers rushed for 189 and 170 yards, respectively.

The NFL playoffs begin with Seattle and San Francisco playing at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday in Santa Clara, California.

Kraken

Once again, the Seattle Kraken have put together a six-game winning streak this season. A significant factor in the win streak is goal scoring, averaging five goals per game over the past six games – a sharp increase from the 2.73 goals per game averaged in the 11 previous outings before the win streak.

The Kraken are in the midst of a seven-game road trip spanning across the United States and into Canada, sweeping through the Great White North from west to east. With wins over the Oilers and Maple Leafs last week, Seattle’s offense exploded in an 8-4 win over the Ottawa Senators in Saturday’s win.

Seattle held a 3-1 advantage under seven minutes into the second period, but back-to-back goals by Ottawa’s Tim Stutzle evened the scoreboard at three. From there, Daniel Sprong and Matty Beniers both scored to end the second period, and Vince Dunn, Jordan Eberle and Andre Burakovsky all netted goals of their own in the third period to win 8-4.

To end the Canadian part of the road trip, the Kraken traveled to Montreal to take on the Canadiens, who had previously defeated the Kraken 4-2 on Dec. 6. This time, Seattle posted its second shutout of the season in a 4-0 win over Montreal, where Eeli Tolvanen, Sprong and Dunn all scored in the first period. Beniers added an empty-netter in the third period to lock up the 4-0 win.

On Tuesday, Seattle found itself in a back-and-forth affair with the Sabres, with Eberle and Yanni Gourde both answering Buffalo goals to tie the game at two entering the third period. Beniers scored just over a minute into the third period, marking his fifth straight game with a goal, and Justin Schultz netted another goal in the third. Buffalo’s Alex Tuch scored with under a minute remaining to cut the Seattle lead to 4-3, but the Kraken held on to win their sixth-consecutive game, fifth on the road.

The red-hot Kraken, now 24-12-4 on the year, wrap up their road trip with games against the NHL-leading Boston Bruins on Thursday and the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday before returning home to face Tampa Bay on Monday.

Ian Bivona can be reached via email at ibivona@columbiabasinherald.com.

photo

AP Photo/Abbie Parr

Seattle Seahawks running back Kenneth Walker III became the second rookie in franchise history to finish a season with more than 1,000 rushing yards. Walker ended the regular season with 1,050 rushing yards.

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