Hyde’s big play at the right time
Seattle’s longest running play of the year came at an opportune time. Early in the third quarter against the Washington Football Team, Carlos Hyde broke over a big hole on the right side, evaded a diving tackle near the line of scrimmage and was gone. He was able to hold the ball aloft as he scooted into the end zone, escorted by Hollister, who had a knack this year for creating space for big plays. The play put the Seahawks up 20-3 on the way to a road win that helped turn the NFC West toward them. “I was following Hollister," Hyde said. “He was my convoy to the end zone."
Adams grounds Arizona’s Murray
Adams proved to be everything Seattle hoped for in terms of his ability to disrupt the line of scrimmage and in the backfield with a team-high 9.5 sacks. But a play for which he received no statistical credit might have been as big as any. During the fourth quarter at home against Arizona with Seattle clinging to a 23-21 lead, Adams broke through to force Murray into an intentional-grounding call. It resulted in a 12-yard loss to the 2-yard line. A play later, a holding call in the end zone resulted in a safety, a 25-21 Seattle lead and the ball. The Seahawks extended the lead to three at 28-21, which proved to be the final score. On the grounding play, Murray wanted to hit tight end Dan Arnold on a screen pass. But Arnold had to try to block Adams instead, throwing off the timing. It was a subtle indication of the impact Adams had all season.
More Wilson magic to Moore
Have we really gone this far without mentioning a Russell Wilson play?
Maybe that's because he makes so many it’s hard to focus on just one. But during a season in which he was a legit NFL MVP candidate, Wilson saved maybe his most meaningful play for the second-to-last game. In the win-or-forget-the-division game against the Rams, the Seahawks faced third-and-eight in their territory during the third quarter, locked in a 6-6 tie. Wilson roamed right and appeared to have plenty of room to run for the first down. Instead he pulled up and fired down the sideline for David Moore, who made a twisting, turning catch for 45 yards to the Rams 32-yard line. Seattle scored four plays later and never trailed again. “There is no doubt that was the play," Carroll said. “Because we hadn’t had a bust-out play that changed field position, and that was a special play by Russ."
Tyler one-hands and toe-taps on record night
Un. Real. pic.twitter.com/IkC4Kyr7Mw— Seattle Times Sports (@SeaTimesSports) October 26, 2020
On his way to setting a team record with 100 receptions in a season, Tyler Lockett tied a team record with 15 receptions in one game, the overtime loss at Arizona. You could pick several as highlights, but two stand out — a one-handed, 34-yard grab over All-Pro corner Patrick Peterson, and a toe-tapping, sliding 3-yard TD on fourth down, again beating Peterson. The latter play seemed so improbable that it was initially ruled incomplete, though Carroll later said he was never worried it wouldn't be overturned.
“We figured because Tyler did it, he was in bounds,’’ Carroll said, “ … that he would have figured that out, and he did."
Run, DK, run!
If Metcalf’s most memorable — or at least, most "meme-able" — play of the season was a tackle, it was receiving where he made his true mark, setting a team record with 1,303 yards. He gained 46 on a play that jump-started a 37-27 win over the 49ers on Nov. 1. Lined up on the left side, Metcalf cut to the right and caught a pass about 10 yards downfield. But the routine turned spectacular as Metcalf turned on the jets, outracing the 49ers to the right sideline, then using a block from tight end Jacob Hollister to turn upfield and outrace the defense and into the end zone. Metcalf finished with a then-career high 161 yards.
“When he caught the ball on the crossing route, I started screaming that they weren’t going to get him, right when he was way over there, because he’s just too fast," Carroll said.
Unlikely hero derails Dallas
One theme of this season was the unlikely hero coming to the rescue at the most critical times. That may never have been more true than in Week 3 against Dallas, when star safety Jamal Adams left in the fourth quarter because of a groin injury. That meant Ryan Neal — who had played on special teams earlier in his career but had never played a defensive snap in the NFL — had to step in at safety. That loomed ominous when Dallas needed just 1:31 to drive from its own 25-yard line to the Seattle 26 with 16 seconds left, hoping for a TD to tie, or maybe even win. But on third down a hurried Dak Prescott pass landed in the arms of Neal, preserving the win with six seconds left.
“That’s what I was ready to do, and thank God that they gave me one, that they threw one my way and I went out there and made the play," Neal said. “I’m grateful right now. I can’t even talk."
Carlos the closer
Carlos Dunlap calls GAMEpic.twitter.com/F9t92cauGG— PFF (@PFF) November 20, 2020
Yep, a defense that was maligned for much of the year came up big when it mattered most. In the game that marked the turning point for the Seattle defense, it was newly acquired defensive end Carlos Dunlap who made the clinching play. Dunlap sacked Arizona QB Kyler Murray on fourth down from the Seahawks 27 with 34 seconds left, preserving a 28-21 win. Both teams were 6-3 at the time. Seattle would go on to finish 12-4, but the Cardinals won just twice more. Dunlap, who had been with a moribund Bengals team before being traded to Seattle in October, only wished the Lumen Field house had been full.
“Honestly, with the way the sideline erupted, I can only imagine what it would have been like if the 12s had been there,” Dunlap said. " … They brought me here to do one job. … I was happy to get it done.”
Protecting every blade of grass again, to win the West
A game of inches. @PeteCarroll, @Prez and more talk about the important goal line stand by the defense to hold the Rams out of the end zone on four straight plays.#GoHawks x @walottery pic.twitter.com/n2MV6vYX7c— Seattle Seahawks (@Seahawks) December 28, 2020
Seattle’s phrase for goal-line stands is “protecting every blade of grass."
Three months after stoning Newton Seattle had to do it again when the Rams reached Seattle’s 2-yard line midway through the third quarter. In a game to decide the NFC West, the Rams were six feet away from tying the score at 13. They got five feet, but those last 12 inches were elusive. On four plays from the 2, L.A. got just one yard. Jamal Adams made a TD-saving tackle on second down, and Jordyn Brooks led a flurry of Hawks to the ball on fourth down, the key sequence in a 20-9 Seattle win that clinched the division.
“There was never a more heroic opportunity than down there on the goal line," Carroll said. “It’s on the two, first down, and the guys did not let it happen. You’ve seen the heart of our players in earlier times this season in moments come through, and they did it again. The goal-line stand was a famous one, and one I’ll never forget."
Clamming up Cam to beat the Pats
You could barely have asked for more drama out of the Seahawks early in the season — not that most fans would want to.
But maybe in 2020 we needed some of that.
The Seahawks certainly provided it, beginning with the second game of the year when a topsy-turvy Sunday Night Football affair with the Patriots came down to the final play. The Patriots were at Seattle’s 1-yard line with three seconds left and trailing 35-30.
It may be easy to forget now that the easy-to-forget-now Quinton Dunbar had tackled N’Keal Harry at the 1 on the previous play.
From the 1, the Seahawks gambled that the Patriots would put the ball in the hands of quarterback Cam Newton. Had the Patriots done just about anything else, an easy TD might have been theirs. But the Pats did as expected and — as linebacker Bobby Wagner called out just before the snap — Newton took off to his left. There he found a horde of Hawks, led by safety Lano Hill and second-year player L.J. Collier, stuffed for a loss of one. Game over.
“It’s an extraordinary moment for football players and for our team," Carroll said. “You either come through, or you don’t. The guys on the field will never forget it."
Metcalf's 'play of the century'
In their first divisional road game of the season on Oct. 25, the 5-0 Seahawks appeared ready to take command of the game with a first-and goal at the 3-yard line, ahead 13-7 midway through the second quarter. But disaster appeared to strike, as quarterback Russell Wilson floated a pass to Chris Carson that former University of Washington and Bellevue High School star Budda Baker intercepted at the 2. Baker raced down the sideline with a game-turning touchdown in sight.
Only, from seemingly out of nowhere, DK Metcalf appeared — gradually and then suddenly catching Baker. Reaching what NFL NextGen Stats said was a top speed of 22.64 mph, Metcalf caught Baker at the other 3-yard line. The Seahawks then stopped Arizona on downs and drove for a touchdown to take a 20-7 lead.
At halftime coach Pete Carroll told the NBC broadcast crew it was “the play of the century." After the game he called it “one of the best football plays I’ve ever seen."
The lone caveat is that Arizona came back to win the game. But enough about that.