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Sports >  Seattle Seahawks

Dave Boling: Seahawks shaky win in Los Angeles is a season-saver, at least for now

Dec. 4, 2022 Updated Sun., Dec. 4, 2022 at 6:59 p.m.

By Dave Boling For The Spokesman-Review

Let’s for a moment disregard the reality that the Seattle win on Sunday came against a Rams team that had lost five straight, with injuries leaving them to field a glorified JV squad.

But any win in the NFL is a good win, and this one could turn out to be a season-saver.

This shaky 27-23 road victory kept the Seahawks in the playoff picture at least another week, moving them to 7-5.

The Rams had no Aaron Donald. No Matthew Stafford. No Cooper Kupp. No matter. It’s a Seattle win.

The 75-yard, go-ahead touchdown drive in the final three minutes may only forestall the inevitable if the Hawks can’t get a quick refresher course on tackling ballcarriers. Either way, the Seahawks proved a few important points – some very good, and some clarifying their future needs.

• Finally, they proved they had the wherewithal to reach deep, play smart and do what it takes to win a game in the late going.

Finishing is an art that hadn’t been mastered by these Hawks. Two of their five losses featured blown fourth-quarter leads (New Orleans and Las Vegas).

• It was the first late game-winning drive by quarterback Geno Smith since 2014 when he was starting for the Jets, but he looked so convincing it shouldn’t be his last.

He finished with 367 passing yards and three touchdowns, and was cool money on the last drive, passing for 65 yards, including the 8-yard scoring pass to D.K. Metcalf on a pass he gunned between three Los Angeles defenders.

We’ll call him Geno because “Smith” seems too generic for the style with which he’s playing these days. He once again proved the obvious: He’s for real and he shows every indication of being able to sustain this level of performance. He’s still leading the NFL in completion percentage (72.8).

Again, he was under pressure and delivered in the face of it. That kind of confidence is bankable. This isn’t a streak, it’s who he is, and there’s no reason not to ride him into the future.

• Receiver D.K. Metcalf doesn’t have much to prove, but everything he did Sunday could be considered a flex – in all its varied meanings. He and Tyler Lockett combined for more than 250 receiving yards. They are a curiously effective tandem: Metcalf overpowering with speed and muscle, Lockett with guile and quickness.

• The Hawks also emphatically proved how much they miss former defensive cornerstone linebacker Bobby Wagner. Wagner was allowed to leave after 10 seasons with the Hawks, but he starred for the Rams with a pair of sacks, an interception, and an unmeasurable amount of inspiration and leadership.

• More than missing Wagner, the Seahawks again proved their most obvious weakness, stopping the run. The Rams, with the second-worst rushing statistics in the NFL, gained 171 yards on the ground after Hawks’ last two opponents plowed through them for 444 yards.

Every team left on the schedule need do little more, strategically, than to pull out the dusty playbook of the 1920s Canton Bulldogs and unleash a flying-wedge of rushing plays against the Hawks.

The lesson there? With that increasingly valuable first-round draft pick they are scheduled to receive from Denver in the Russell Wilson trade, the Seahawks need to find the biggest, baddest human-roadblock they can get to plug up the middle of the defensive line for about 10 years.

There’s little chance they could find another Cortez Kennedy out there, but the closest they can get would be worth the investment and represent an immediate improvement in the area of greatest need.

What else did they get from this win? The chance to look forward with a little optimism instead of regret. A third straight loss might have been crippling.

Yes, their running backs are banged up, which will be an issue. But they get the 4-8 Panthers at home next week and host San Francisco in a crucial divisional contest on Thursday that week as the Niners adjust to operating with quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who broke his foot on Sunday.

The season ends with a visit from the Rams, whom the Seahawks proved on Sunday they can beat, which just might have made this a season worth saving.

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