SEATTLE — Go ahead. Rejoice.
The Seattle Seahawks wrapped up a regular season Sunday in which they achieved every goal they had.
NFC West title? Check.
Home field through the playoffs? Check.
In the locker room, Seahawks donned the freshly minted NFC West championship hats and danced to the thumping beat of Lil Reese’s “Us” and its refrain “At the top, it’s just us …”
But there’s something missing from the celebration, like a New Year’s Eve party without fireworks. The explosive ability of the Seahawks offense has not RSVP’d.
Sunday’s 27-9 win over St. Louis offered hints that it might arrive soon. But as we enter the wee hours of the NFL season, Seattle’s firepower isn’t exactly waking up their NFC neighbors.
Sunday was the sixth straight game the Seahawks didn’t have a 100-yard rusher.
Seattle finally converted a third down with less than two minutes left in the first half. That snapped a streak of 14 failures that stretched to the first quarter of last week’s loss to Arizona. Four of the Seahawks’ six first-half drives went three-and-out.
But a wakeup call might have come in the third quarter. That’s when St. Louis tried to crash the party by turning it into a brawl. The Rams threw helmets. They amassed about every type of unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty, including “verbal abuse of an official.”
The Seahawks’ response showed a maturity that, as the NFL’s most-penalized team, has been rightly questioned.
“They tried to make it chippy,” said safety Kam Chancellor. “We have a lot of good leaders that broke it up. They were telling guys, don’t fall into that trap.”
Ahead 13-3, Seattle let St. Louis self-destruct. A potpourri of penalties turned a promising drive into an easy punch-in touchdown.
Two drives later, Golden Tate caught a game-clinching 47-yard touchdown. It was Seattle’s first play longer than 30 yards since the first half two weeks ago against the New York Giants.
Seattle is still a favorite to reach the Super Bowl thanks to its defense, which held St. Louis to 158 yards of offense, including just 15 yards rushing.
“There will be days when the offense is not going and we have to pick them up,” said linebacker Bobby Wagner.
You have to go back to Dec. 2, that Monday Night party against New Orleans, to find the last time Seattle won on both sides of the ball against a playoff-caliber opponent. And Seahawks fans remember how fun that was.
A defensive slugfest might be what awaits Seattle in the playoffs. But the champagne corks are more likely to pop if the offense shows up to the party.