The Seahawks beat the Giants, 24-7, on Sunday at MetLife Stadium. It was a mostly unattractive game that was not nearly as stress-free as the score suggested. But for Seattle, it served its purpose. The Seahawks upped their record to 4-2, keeping them within a half-game of the surprising Los Angeles Rams atop the NFC West. The Seahawks already have beaten the Rams this season.
In the bigger picture, the NFC’s spot in the Super Bowl is there for the taking, and the Seahawks, despite their obvious flaws, have a chance to secure it.
“We’ll see,” Seattle defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson said. “It’s definitely wide open.”
The Green Bay Packers are without Aaron Rodgers. The Dallas Cowboys could lose Ezekiel Elliott for six games if the NFL secures the right in court — again — to enforce its suspension. The Rams and Philadelphia Eagles have second-year quarterbacks who are perhaps not yet quite ready for the biggest games and the brightest lights. There are others in the mix, from the Washington Redskins to the Minnesota Vikings to the New Orleans Saints to the Atlanta Falcons to the Carolina Panthers.
But the Seahawks have a core of players who went to two Super Bowls. They have marquee players on defense, and they have quarterback Russell Wilson and wide receiver Doug Baldwin to help patch things together on offense.
Is that enough? It could be, given the less-than-overwhelming competition.
“I don’t know how to grade us right now,” defensive end Michael Bennett said. “I just think we’ll take it week by week. I think that’s what you do in the NFL. … You can’t really try to gauge where you are. Our next opponent is the Texans. We’ll just go from there.”
This was an afternoon that began with eight Seahawks players who were in uniform sitting on the bench during the playing of the national anthem; another player was kneeling nearby. NFL owners and players met last week in New York to discuss players’ initiatives for community activism. The owners emerged without requiring players to stand for the anthem. But NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and owners expressed the belief that players should stand. Clearly the hope by the league and owners is that cooperation on social issues will lead players to stand voluntarily for the anthem. That was not enough for the Seahawks.
The game turned frustrating for the Seahawks early. Tight end Jimmy Graham had two egregiously dropped passes, one in the end zone on a fourth-down gamble. Baldwin had a sideline exchange, caught by a CBS camera, in which he made contact with offensive line coach Tom Cable, with Coach Pete Carroll and Wilson nearby.
“I lost my cool,” Baldwin said. “It’s 100 percent my fault. At that moment, I was really frustrated with the team as a whole, the offense as a whole — not the coaching staff, the players. … We weren’t executing as players. And to me, there’s nothing a coach can say. We have to take accountability. So I got a little passionate about it. You all know: I love Cable to death. … I already apologized to him.”
It was not a problem to the other Seahawks, though.
“It comes with the territory,” cornerback Richard Sherman said. “In the outside world, it’s kind of misunderstood. They think about it as disrespect. But in a locker room, in an environment like this, we look at each other as peers, coaches and players. … It’s not him yelling at them. It’s him showing them passion, trying to get the same goal. It’s awesome. I’ve been seeing him do it since he was a freshman in college.”
A fumble by running back Thomas Rawls led to a Giants touchdown. An offensive pass interference penalty on wide receiver Tyler Lockett negated his touchdown catch and left the Seahawks settling for a field goal. In the third quarter, Seattle couldn’t even manage a first down after deflecting a Giants punt. Wilson missed Baldwin on a deep throw in the third quarter with Baldwin open by about seven yards.
But the three touchdown passes by Wilson were enough. He connected with Baldwin on a 22-yard lob in the third quarter, just after the Seahawks were pushed backward on a personal foul by guard Mark Glowinski. Wilson added a 38-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter to wideout Paul Richardson. The play began with the ball being lateraled back to Wilson on what appeared to be a running play; it ended with Richardson and Giants safety Landon Collins fighting for the football on what was ruled simultaneous possession and a touchdown for Richardson.
“I had it,” Richardson said. “I knew I had it. I was waiting on him to stop trying to pull the ball out.”
Wilson finished with a one-yard touchdown pass to Graham with just more than two minutes remaining. That was more than enough against a Giants offense that sputtered without injured wide receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall. The Giants were coming off a stunning victory at Denver following their 0-5 start. They fell to 1-6 in what will be, for them, a season to forget.
For the Seahawks, it has a chance to be something far different.
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