It’d just be a whole lot easier to believe in the team if it could win a game by a comfortable margin.
Even a 17-9 win over the Eagles in Week 12 that was dominated by Seattle stayed much closer than it needed to be. Philadelphia turned the ball over five times and couldn’t do a thing on offense, but Seattle refused to pull away.
And yet, the Seahawks have won four straight and are on the verge of clinching a postseason berth. Tossing themselves in the blender every week seems to be working out great.
“I think people tend to get comfortable, and that’s the part we need to take out of our game,’’ Seahawks cornerback Shaquill Griffin told the Seattle Times after an unnecessarily competitive win over the Falcons in Week 8. “Awesome start. The start of the game was terrific. Let’s finish the same way. When you’re able to finish games the same way you start, that’s when teams become great, and that’s what we’re trying to get to.”
That quote from Griffin came days before the first of back-to-back overtime wins to start November. In that time, the Seahawks still haven’t figured out how to finish games. That could come back to haunt Seattle eventually — and it certainly can’t be great for the blood pressure of Seahawks fans — but so far the team keeps making life difficult for itself and winning anyway.
Eight of the Seahawks’ nine wins in 2019, and one of their two losses, have been decided by one score. No other team has more than six such wins. It’s not a new phenomenon, either. Seattle has been in an NFL-most 37 one-score games since 2016 and won 22 of them.
Here are all the times they’ve walked that tightrope in 2019:
Week 1: Seahawks 21, Bengals 20
In hindsight, that’s a wild final score when you consider the Seahawks have established themselves as one of the NFC’s top contenders and the Bengals still haven’t won a game. Then you dive into the box score and see that the Seahawks had no business winning at all.
Cincinnati finished the game with 429 yards of total offense compared to the Seahawks’ 233 yards.
Three fumbles lost by Cincinnati proved the difference in the game. The Seahawks found just enough running room late in the game to milk the clock and eke out a win to start the year.
Week 2: Seahawks 28, Steelers 26
Unlike the season opener, the Seahawks were the team that dominated statistically in Week 2. Seattle outgained the Steelers 425 yards to 261, and faced backup Mason Rudolph in the second half after Ben Roethlisberger suffered an injury.
Two fourth-quarter touchdown passes from Rudolph made things uncomfortable, though.
With 5:37 left in the game, one of those touchdowns made it a two-point game. Then the Seahawks earned four first downs on the subsequent drive and never let the Steelers touch the ball again.
Week 3: Saints 33, Seahawks 27
The only one-score game with Seattle on the losing end barely qualifies as such. The Seahawks were trailing 27-7 at the beginning of the fourth quarter and got three touchdowns late.
The last touchdown came as time expired, cutting the score from 33-21 to 33-27. The game wasn’t close at any point after halftime.
Week 5: Seahawks 30, Rams 29
This game was a slugfest from start to finish, with both teams trading blows. Los Angeles took a 26-21 lead with two Todd Gurley touchdowns in the third quarter. Then, Seattle snatched back the lead with 2:34 left in the game via a 5-yard touchdown pass from Wilson to Chris Carson.
The Rams set up a game-winning try in the final seconds, but Greg Zuerlein missed from 44 yards.
Week 6: Seahawks 32, Browns 28
Seattle ended up with more total yards, fewer penalty yards, and more first downs than Cleveland. The Seahawks intercepted Baker Mayfield three times and won the time of possession battle. Yet, they somehow trailed late in the fourth quarter.
A 1-yard touchdown for Carson with 3:30 left gave the Seahawks the lead and Mayfield’s third interception just a few plays later locked up the win. It helped too that the officials and Browns coaches teamed up to doom the Browns.
Week 8: Seahawks 27, Falcons 20
How on Earth did the Seahawks let the Matt Schaub-led Falcons only lose by a touchdown? Even worse, Seattle led 24-0 at halftime.
That’s when the Seahawks eased off the gas pedal and slowly let Atlanta back into the game. In the fourth quarter, Seattle was fortunate that Falcons running back Devonta Freeman fumbled in the red zone, kicker Jason Myers was able to connect on a 54-yard field goal, and a Falcons two-point conversion attempt failed. If any of those three results hadn’t happened, the Falcons would’ve had a real chance at stealing a win.
Week 9: Seahawks 40, Buccaneers 34 (OT)
The first of two consecutive overtime wins came after the Seahawks allowed Jameis Winston to lead a 10-play, 75-yard touchdown drive in the final minutes. The Seahawks had a chance to win in regulation, but Myers missed a 40-yard field goal try.
Seattle got the ball first in overtime and never let Tampa Bay touch it. Wilson orchestrated a 10-play, 75-yard touchdown drive of his own capped off with a 10-yard touchdown pass to Jacob Hollister.
Week 10: Seahawks 27, 49ers 24 (OT)
The 21-10 lead that the Seahawks had early in the fourth quarter should’ve been safe. Seattle had the ball, the 49ers’ offense was struggling to do anything, and the Seahawks only had to avoid stepping on a rake.
They promptly stepped on a rake. Offensive lineman Germain Ifedi inexplicably took the ball out of Wilson’s hands mid-sack, ran a few steps with it, then fumbled to give the 49ers an easy touchdown.
In overtime, Wilson threw an interception near the goal line that could’ve cost them the game. Instead, the Seahawks survived by the skin of their teeth with a 42-yard field goal from Myers seconds before the contest was about to end in a tie.
Week 12: Seahawks 17, Eagles 9
Carson Wentz threw two interceptions and lost two fumbles in arguably the worst performance of his career. A fumble lost by Dallas Goedert made it five turnovers on the day for the Eagles. The Seahawks should’ve cruised to victory, especially with a 129-yard rushing performance from Rashaad Penny.
Not quite. Seattle shot itself in the foot with 12 penalties that totaled 90 yards. The Eagles were penalized just twice for 15 yards. The Seahawks also got a turnover of their own when Carson fumbled on back-to-back plays.
The latter frustrated even the perennially cool, calm and collected Wilson:
Russ with an uncharacteristic display of emotion/frustration pic.twitter.com/YGcvI0STvR— Lydia Cruz (@TheLydiaCruz) November 24, 2019
Still, it didn’t really come down to the wire. The Eagles scored their only touchdown with 20 seconds left.
The ability to win close games is a good thing. The Chargers have been in nine one-score games in 2019 and only won two of them. The Seahawks are the opposite, and that’s why they’re in the thick of the NFC West race.
But Seattle is playing with fire when it turns winnable games into needlessly tight ones. It’d be an especially dangerous habit to carry into the postseason. Just last year, the Seahawks were eliminated by the Cowboys with a 24-22 loss in the Wild Card Round. Seattle led that game in the fourth quarter.
At some point, the Seahawks need to keep their foot on the gas and throttle an opponent or two. Otherwise, they could find themselves on the wrong side of a razor-thin game when it matters most.