I'm under no real pretense that Seattle is going to somehow win the NFC West this season, not when San Francisco is already 8-1 and the Seahawks are just 3-6 following yesterday's improbable 22-17 win over Baltimore at CenturyLink Field. Last year, four additional wins were good enough to win the whole division at 7-9.
Still, there won't be any complaints this year about the NFC West winner not really being eligible for the NFL Playoffs.
Seattle has been a hard team to figure out this season. Last month, the Seahawks bumbled their way to a 6-3 loss at Cleveland, two weeks after upending the favored New York Giants, 36-25, at the Meadowlands. That was the same Giants club who ran roughshod over the Seahawks in their previous two meetings.
Then, after last week's error-filled implosion at Dallas, Seattle outlasted the visiting Ravens—who themselves were coming off a major last-minute win over Pittsburgh, and six wins in all in their first seven outings.
Five field goals by Seattle placekicker (and former Raven) Steven Hauschka certainly helped, but another big part of Sunday's success came from the Seahawks not turning the ball over.
One week after completing 17-of-30 passes and tossing three interceptions in a 23-13 loss at Dallas, Seattle QB Tarvaris Jackson went 17-for-27 for 217 yards against Baltimore, without a single pick. The Seattle defense also forced three Baltimore turnovers (two fumbles, one interception) that turned into three Hauschka field goals.
Seattle RB Marshawn Lynch went over the 100-yard mark for the second straight week and scored a touchdown for the fourth consecutive game. He also picked up 32 yards on the Seahawks final drive yesterday, enabling them to run out the last 5:52 of regulation time after the Ravens had closed within five points on a Joe Flacco TD pass to Ed Dickson.
Of course, not everything from the win over the Ravens was positive, especially on the injury front. Seattle guard John Moffitt is out for the season with torn knee ligaments sustained on Sunday. Seahawk receivers Sidney Rice and Doug Baldwin both left the Baltimore game with concussions, as did SS Kam Chancellor. DB Atari Bigbya and DE Anthony Hargrove also suffered hamstring injuries yesterday, and none of those six players returned to action on Sunday.
Besides the injury bug, Seattle also committed 13 penalties against Baltimore, with three more declined by the Ravens. The Seahawks also went just 5-of-16 in third-down situations.
And despite the fact that Flacco (29-of-52 passing) and RB Ray Rice (5 rushes for 27 yards) did not have big games for the opposing Ravens, Baltimore's Billy Cundiff missed two field goals of 50 or more yards that could have lifted the visitors to victory.
Sometimes you need to be lucky, too.
Coming up next on the Seattle schedule is St. Louis, Washington, Philadelphia, and St. Louis again, all teams with records equal to or worse than the Seahawks have now. Seattle could thus be 7-6 and one game above .500 when that stretch is done, with three games left and maybe a very long shot at the playoffs. Or, if injuries and penalty problems continue to mount, they could be 3-10 and in the running to draft Andrew Luck or some other top college QB next April.
It's been that kind of NFL season so far in the Pacific Northwest. It just hasn't been boring.