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Analysis: Another Monday night win puts Seahawks QBs in the spotlight

Lock came through when team needed him most

By TIM BOOTH, AP Sports Writer
Published: December 19, 2023, 6:55pm

RENTON — Geno Smith’s first start at home as the guy replacing Russell Wilson in Seattle came on a Monday night, finished with an unexpected victory and became the catalyst for a surprising comeback season.

Drew Lock’s first home start in place of an injured Smith came on a Monday night, finished with an unexpected victory and what the Seahawks hope sparks a late push to the playoffs.

Two unforgettable nights for the two quarterbacks. Two moments of significant importance for Pete Carroll and the franchise.

Lock’s moment came on Monday night when Seattle rallied for a 20-17 win over Philadelphia. It took all of 1 minute, 24 seconds for Lock to drive his team 92 yards for a game-winning touchdown, hitting Jaxon Smith-Njigba on a 29-yard touchdown with 28 seconds left.

That moment is hugely significant. Seattle (7-7) was on the verge of losing a fifth straight game for the first time since 2008. They were about to enter the final three games with scant hopes of the playoffs.

Carroll was on the verge of having questions raised whether his message has gone stale with this group of players.

Enter Lock.

Last week at San Francisco was the first time he’d started since the end of the 2021 season while he was still wearing Denver colors. That game against the 49ers was a predictable result — a little good, a little bad and not enough to get Seattle a victory against a superior opponent.

His performance against the Eagles was similar — minus the two interceptions he threw against the Niners. Lock did enough for 3½ quarters to keep Seattle close, but not enough to give them the lead.

Until the final minutes.

“Anybody that has the brain of a starter, brain of a championship kid, it’s difficult as heck to have to wait. So he’s had to do it,” Carroll said of Lock. “But he had his chances. Almost put together a game good enough last week. Then this week he did the whole thing. It was amazing.”

The touchdown to Smith-Njigba was a terrific throw and perfectly measured, getting the single-coverage look Seattle was hoping to see. But his better throw may have come three plays earlier when he dropped a 34-yarder into the arms of DK Metcalf between two defenders and gave Seattle the chance to take shots at the end zone.

Two big plays. Two cherished moments.

“I appreciate the guys rallying around me. It’s a really special group,” Lock said. “I just couldn’t be more proud of everybody.”

WHAT’S WORKING

Seattle committed to the run game in the second half and it paid off. The Seahawks ran the ball 15 times in the second half and while that’s not a big number, it created some balance and allowed Kenneth Walker III to get going.

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Walker had 12 carries for 65 yards in the second half, including his 23-yard touchdown run early in the third quarter.

WHAT NEEDS HELP

Seattle’s defense was able to get a couple of critical stops in the fourth quarter. They also gave up scoring drives of 15, 16 and 12 plays where they were bullied down the field by the Eagles. At one point of the first half after Philadelphia took a 10-0 lead, the Eagles had run 34 offensive plays and held the ball for nearly 18 minutes.

STOCK UP

No one on Seattle’s defense had a bigger impact than Julian Love. He was terrific against the Eagles, with a pair of fourth-quarter interceptions. He avoided getting beat deep by Quez Watkins and picked off Hurts in the end zone midway through the fourth quarter. His better interception came on the final drive, racing from the center of the field to pick off a pass intended for A.J. Brown that sealed the victory.

Love has been responsible for four turnovers in the past two games.

“I try to reflect and think that football is just me playing in the backyard when I was a kid. I just carry that mindset with me, and I think it leads to success,” Love said.

STOCK DOWN

It ended up working out, but Seattle’s clock management in the second half was a mess. The Seahawks burned two timeouts, the second of which allowed Philadelphia to challenge a play and force Seattle into a field-goal attempt. Seattle had just one timeout for the final drive, which shockingly it didn’t end up needing.

INJURIES

While Smith is the biggest name to watch, the bigger concern might be rookie cornerback Devon Witherspoon. Carroll termed the hip pointer that kept Witherspoon sidelined for Monday’s game as “legit,” which usually means significant in Carroll’s parlance. Artie Burns played 63 of 69 snaps against the Eagles in Witherspoon’s place.

Jamal Adams (knee) also missed the game, but Carroll was hopeful the safety would be back against Tennessee.

KEY NUMBER

158.3 — Seattle faced four third-and-10 situations in the game and Lock was perfect. Literally. Lock went 4-for-4 for 88 yards and a touchdown on those four plays equaling a perfect 158.3 passer rating.

NEXT STEPS

It’s a quick turnaround for Seattle as it’ll head to Tennessee on Sunday. The Seahawks can’t afford a slip-up against the 5-9 Titans, but this will be only their third trip to Nashville. Seattle lost to the Titans in 2017 and won there in 2005.

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