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Carlos Dunlap’s late sack helps Seahawks hold on to beat Washington, clinch playoff berth

Dec. 20, 2020 Updated Sun., Dec. 20, 2020 at 10:15 p.m.

By Stephen Whyno Associated Press

LANDOVER, Md. – Russell Wilson asked Carlos Dunlap to make a play to get the Seattle Seahawks into the playoffs, and the veteran defensive end was all too eager to deliver.

Dunlap shook off a lingering foot injury and sacked Washington’s Dwayne Haskins, shoring up a 20-15 victory Sunday that clinched a playoff spot. It’s Seattle’s ninth postseason berth in 11 seasons under head coach Pete Carroll, but Dunlap’s first crack at the postseason since 2015 and safety Jamal Adams’ first in his NFL career.

“I know you guys are used to Seattle always going to the playoffs – I’m not used to this,” said Adams, who extended his single-season sacks record for a defensive back. Adams couldn’t contain his excitement after playing another game with two broken fingers. “I’m just excited. It feels good, man. This is what you dream of.”

Carroll called it a “sweet win,” brushing off a rough fourth quarter to celebrate another accomplishment. Wilson threw for a touchdown, Carlos Hyde ran 50 yards for a score, and Seattle (10-4) picked off Haskins twice to build a big lead before holding on with a big defensive stop in the final minutes.

It was fitting that Dunlap had the big sack on 3rd-and-15 with just over a minute left, given his lengthy playoff drought.

“The universe just wants me to win, and we’ve got an opportunity,” Dunlap said. “That’s all I want is an opportunity.”

Washington (6-8) still has that opportunity in the NFC East, even though its winning streak was snapped at four with starting quarterback Alex Smith out because of a calf injury. Haskins finished 38 of 55 for 295 yards, a touchdown pass and the two interceptions.

“There were some plays I’d want back, for sure,” Haskins said. “It was definitely a hard-fought game.”

Wilson threw for 121 yards and a 10-yard touchdown pass to Jacob Hollister and ran for 52 on six carries. Hyde’s 50-yard TD run was Seattle’s long- est rushing play of the season.

“I was following Hollister,” Hyde said. “He actually took me to the end zone. I followed him. He was my convoy to the end zone for six.”

Sackmaster Adams

Adams’ sack of Haskins in the first quarter gave him 9½, adding to his single-season record for a defensive back since the NFL began tracking the stat in 1982. Adams also became the first defensive back in that 38-year span to have a sack in four consecutive games.

Adams went to the locker room for a finger injury in the third quarter, but didn’t miss a series. He said he has been playing with two broken fingers for a couple of weeks, insisting that the injury doesn’t slow him down.

Inconsistent Haskins

When Washington head coach Ron Rivera benched Haskins after a 1-3 start to the season, he felt the offense was in better hands with an experienced quarterback. Haskins did well enough in relief of Smith in last week’s victory against San Francisco, but his inexperience was on display against Seattle.

“I feel like he tried to do the best that he could after turnovers,” wide receiver Terry McLaurin said. “We have to make some of those bang-bang plays to help the quarterback.”

Beyond the interceptions, the 2019 first-round pick struggled with situational awareness for much of the day. Rivera said Smith would start next week if he’s healthy.

InjuriesSeahawks: Rookie running back DeeJay Dallas was carted off after injuring his right ankle on kickoff coverage. Carroll said X-rays were negative and Dallas had a sprained ankle. … Seattle played much of the game without two starters on the offensive line after left guard Mike Iupati departed with a neck injury. Right tackle Brandon Shell was inactive with an ankle injury.

Washington: Linebacker Shaun Dion Hamilton left with an elbow injury. … Right tackle Morgan Moses missed time in the second half with a leg injury. … Along with Smith’s absence, standout rookie running back Antonio Gibson missed a second consecutive game because of a toe injury, and linebacker Cole Holcomb was out with a concussion.

Up next: The Seahawks host the Los Angeles Rams next Sunday with first place in the NFC West at stake, while Washington hosts Rivera’s old team, the Carolina Panthers.

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