The way the Seahawks go about winning football games may not give you the impression that they're a team capable of being 9-2 through the first 11 games of the season.
However, the Seahawks continue to find ways to win games consistently and are showing signs of improvement as the season turns the page into December. Even without Jadeveon Clowney on Sunday, the Seahawks pass rush caused problems all day for quarterback Carson Wentz. The defense forced the Philadelphia Eagles into five turnovers in a 17-9 victory to improve to 6-0 on the road this season.
Wentz tossed two interceptions to Bradley McDougald and Tre Flowers and lost a pair of fumbles on sacks by Rasheem Green and a fumbled exchange with Miles Sanders due to pressure from Shaquem Griffin. Shaquill Griffin and Quandre Diggs also combined to strip tight end Dallas Goedert for a third lost fumble on the afternoon.
Seattle's offense did enough to get the win behind a career day from Rashaad Penny on the ground. However, many missed opportunities were left on the table in the passing game with some drops and misfires on a blustery day in Philadelphia.
Nevertheless, the Seahawks being able to win a game on the backs of their defense has been somewhat of a foreign concept in 2019. If the performance of the unit Sunday is a precursor of things to come, this is a team that could be playing well into January.
Here are the takeaways from Sunday's win over the Eagles:
-- The Seahawks may have finally solved its pass rush problems.
Given the struggle the Seahawks have had most of the season to pressure opposing passers, the absence of Jadeveon Clowney due to a hip injury on Sunday seemed to hint at another lackluster pass rushing performance on the way.
Instead, the Seahawks harassed Wentz throughout the afternoon. Seattle sacked Wentz three times with nine total quarterback hits that helped keep the Eagles offense from finding consistent success.
"We just turned a corner the last two weeks. ... The whole group has gotten better, we've improved and it's a really, really exciting emergence that we need to hopefully capitalize on," head coach Pete Carroll said.
Ziggy Ansah had his best showing of the season in recording 1.5 sacks with a forced fumble and four total tackles against Philadelphia. Ansah also had another sack and fumble due to a defensive holding penalty against Shaquill Griffin. However, Ansah pushed opposing tackles back into the quarterback multiple times in his most effective game of the season.
Ansah split a sack with Jarran Reed, who left the game due to a sprained ankle. Green also got a strip-sack of Wentz from the ground after being tripped by a motioning wide receiver after the snap.
Maybe the addition of Quandre Diggs at free safety has made an impact as well as the Seahawks have forced eight turnovers in two games with Diggs in the lineup. However, the performance of Ansah, Green, Reed, Poona Ford, Shaquem Griffin and Quinton Jefferson up front shouldn't be overlooked. The group looked impressive two weeks ago with Clowney wrecking things left and right for the San Francisco 49ers. To put together another strong performance would seem to indicate that real progress has been made.
-- Seahawks pull an old favorite out of the playbook for opening score.
Seattle pulled off an "exquisite" trick play to find the end zone for the first time on Sunday.
Wilson tossed a pitch to Chris Carson running to the right of the offensive formation before Carson spun around and threw the ball backwards to Wilson. As the lateral from Carson to Wilson took place, wide receiver Malik Turner took off downfield. Wilson delivered a perfect pass in between two Eagles defenders for a 33-yard touchdown that gave Seattle a 7-3 lead.
"The catch and the throw that Russ got with Malik was just exquisite. It was an exquisite throw and catch and the timing and the execution of the double pass thing was just perfect. Such a tough catch and Malik made it look easy. It was a great play," Carroll said.
It's a play the Seahawks have run variations of numerous times before under Carroll.
Ricardo Lockette caught a 40-yard touchdown against the Carolina Panthers in 2015. Paul Richardson caught a 38-yard touchdown against the New York Giants in 2017 and Golden Tate caught a 44-yard pass against the Buffalo Bills in 2012. The team also tried to run it in the Super Bowl against the Denver Broncos but the play was covered up well and resulted in a throw away by Wilson.
The Seahawks apparently seem to enjoy running trick plays against the Eagles. It was also against Philadelphia in 2016 when Doug Baldwin took an end around hand off from Wilson before launching a 15-yard touchdown pass back to Wilson.
The touchdown was Turner's first career score and was the only touchdown Seattle would get until Penny's big 58-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.
-- Too many points left on the board by the offense.
The Seahawks led 10-3 at halftime but the game should have been far more in Seattle's control.
"We know this could have been different," Carroll said. "With this kind of defensive performance it could have been a really big day."
Wilson airmailed a sure touchdown over the head of a wide open Jacob Hollister that would have increased the lead to 14-3 midway through the second quarter. Seattle had to settle for a 24-yard Jason Myers field goal instead.
Then with a minute left to go in the half, Wilson threw a great deep ball toward DK Metcalf on third-and-10 from the Eagles' 38-yard line. Metcalf had beat cornerback Ronald Darby and was free for a touchdown as well before dropping the ball at the goal line. If the Hollister touchdown had also been completed, the Seahawks would have taken a 21-3 lead into halftime.
"We fell prey a little bit to not being able to get the ball thrown and caught like we like," Carroll said. "Russ missed one that a million times again he's not going to miss that ball in the corner. We didn't take advantage of all of the opportunities for sure."
Metcalf also had two other passes that he could have caught but was unable to haul in. An early improvised play by Wilson avoiding a sack led to a great throw that Metcalf got his hands on but couldn't corral. Then a second half deep pass up the sidelines bounced off Metcalf's hands for an incompletion as well. While neither play would be considered a "drop," they were catch-able passes that went lacking.
-- Rashaad Penny's career day provides needed spark for Seahawks' attack.
Penny had played just 85 offensive snaps all season prior to Sunday's game in Philadelphia. He saw just three offensive snaps in total in the 27-24 overtime win against the San Francisco 49ers before the bye week.
But on Sunday, Penny came through in a big way.
Penny had a career-high 129 yards on 14 carries for the Seahawks with a 58-yard touchdown run that gave Seattle a 17-3 lead in the fourth quarter that effectively iced the game.
"He has practiced marvelously," Carroll said. "The last three weeks have been his three best weeks of practice. We really wanted him to play today and get in there to see what would happen because he's looked so good in practice. ... He came through beautifully and it was really a sweet game for him."
With just under 12 minutes left to play, the Seahawks brilliantly executed a trap play to spring Penny into the secondary. D.J. Fluker and Germain Ifedi made great blocks at the second level as Eagles safety Rodney McLeod took a poor angle to track the run and Penny blew by him into the open field.
"I felt an extra burst and I was like pretty pleased with myself when I came back to the sideline," said Penny, who credited his nutrition program for keeping him at a lighter weight in order to be more explosive.
Penny bounced off cornerback Ronald Darby at the 13-yard line and walked into the end zone for the score.
Penny admitted it has been frustrating being unable to play and contribute as often as he would have liked. However, he believes that he can still bring a lot to the table and was glad to get the chance to show what he could do against the Eagles.
"I'm still young. I'm still fresh. I've got a lot of carries I can handle for whenever the time is needed," Penny said.
Photo Credit: PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - NOVEMBER 24: Quinton Jefferson #99 and Ezekiel Ansah #94 of the Seattle Seahawks sack quarterback Carson Wentz #11 of the Philadelphia Eagles in the first half at Lincoln Financial Field on November 24, 2019 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)