RENTON, Wash. – The run of stout defense started with slowing Arizona, followed by handcuffing San Francisco on Thanksgiving night.
But the best defensive performance of Pete Carroll’s tenure came Sunday when Seattle ground Philadelphia’s high-speed act to a halt that kept the Seahawks in the thick of the NFC West race.
Shutting down Philadelphia and holding the Eagles to 139 total yards was the cap to a three-week run of defense the NFL has not seen since 2011.
It returned Seattle to the top of the NFL in total defense and has the Seahawks statically nearly equal to last season’s Super Bowl winners.
The Seahawks are giving up 274.5 yards per game this season. They allowed 273.6 last season.
“The fact Bobby (Wagner) has returned has been significant and also I think Kam (Chancellor) really rounding into full health is helping us, too. He’s feeling great and playing like crazy,” Carroll said Monday.
“I think the camaraderie of those guys being back in there and feeling right has been resounding. You can … feel it.”
Seattle has allowed 507 total yards in the past three games. According to STATS, Inc., it’s the fourth-fewest yards allowed over a three-game span by any NFL team since 2006. The Seahawks held Arizona to 204 total yards, the 49ers to 164 and the Eagles to 139 – a 169 average.
What makes Seattle’s accomplishment more impressive is the quality of competition. The combined winning percentage of the three: .758.
The Seahawks have a chance hosting San Francisco to be the first team since the 2011 Texans to have three straight games holding opponents to under 200 yards.
“We’ve tackled really well … for some time now. In the last couple years that has been a real sign of our performance and stuff, but it has been really consistent and noticeable,” Carroll said. “I think that’s all part of the intensity and the pursuit thing – it really pays off. You don’t notice a guy miss” when another guy hits.
While the return of Wagner and Chancellor has been crucial, the Seahawks are also playing their top players more snaps. Seattle cut down on its defensive rotations beginning with the Arizona win.
Defensive end Michael Bennett played 98 percent of the defensive snaps against Arizona, 81 percent against San Francisco and 93 percent against the Eagles. Bruce Irvin played every snap against both Arizona and San Francisco before playing 30 of 46 against the Eagles.
Cliff Avril and second-year defensive tackle Jordan Hill have both seen their snap counts increase, while Super Bowl MVP Malcolm Smith hasn’t seen the field on defense in the past three games.
Seattle has found the rotations that work and are not about to tinker with success.
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