Russell Wilson did not look much like himself in his first two games back from injury. On Monday night, with perhaps his last real chance to revive the Seahawks' dwindling playoff hopes in prime time, he looked just as bad, if not worse until his final drive. Desperate to snap a two-game slide, the former MVP candidate stumbled all over FedExField before a last-gasp comeback effort to close Week 12, with Washington Football Team riding a tough defensive performance -- at one point forcing five consecutive three-and-outs -- and some steady-handed quarterbacking from Taylor Heinicke to its third straight win. Monday's 17-15 victory drops Seattle to 3-8 and catapults Washington back into the Wild Card picture.
Here are some immediate takeaways from Washington's scrappy, important win against Seattle:
Why Washington won
Let's start with the defense. Ron Rivera's signature unit has come on in recent weeks, at certain points flummoxing both Tom Brady and Cam Newton, but it looked in near-peak form against Wilson. Seattle barely even tried to run the ball, but when it did, Washington's front was suffocating. The pass rush, meanwhile, wasn't astounding, but everything on the back end was, with DK Metcalf completely erased from action, Landon Collins producing a key forced fumble and a half-dozen other guys getting their hands on downfield shots from Wilson. Things got dicey at the very end, but Kendall Fuller stepped up to thwart a last-minute comeback with a pick on Seattle's two-point try to tie it. Offensively, Taylor Heinicke was equally as important to the "W," often looking more like the Russ of old than Russ himself. An early pick off a bobbled catch didn't rattle him in the slightest, as he not only took care of the ball but spread it around with ease as the night wore on. Assists from Antonio Gibson, who had some solid crunch-time gains; J.D. McKissic, who shined in the red zone; and DeAndre Carter, who emerged as a key-down target, all helped seal the deal.
Why the Seahawks lost
Wilson is not himself. It doesn't matter how bad Seattle is as a whole; if you have Russ under center, you should have a chance. But the Seahawks, despite sticking around in this game on the scoreboard and even coming within a few yards of completely flipping the script in the final seconds, could've easily taken the "W" had Wilson been just competent for the first 58ish minutes of action. Maybe he really does have lingering effects from finger surgery. But either way, looking good for basically just one drive won't cut it. It didn't help that Alex Collins and the ground game were nonexistent. Or that the play-calling never demanded intentional targets for Metcalf. Defensively, the Seahawks didn't necessarily play poorly, giving up long drives but not a ton of points, and yet they folded a bit defending the run down the stretch, allowing Washington to dictate almost the entire game script. A killer penalty on what would've been a successful onside kick also doomed their chances.
This one came down to the wire even though Washington dominated much of the contest, so it has to be Fuller's timely pick during the Seahawks' two-point try -- Seattle's first of 2021. Wilson finally came alive on the Seahawks' last offensive possession, hitting a wide-open Freddie Swain for a touchdown to pull within two, but then Fuller stayed grounded in the end zone on the ensuing play, which the Seahawks wasted no time rolling out, to seal Washington's last-second lead.
Play of the game
It didn't end up leading them to victory, but Rasheem Green's return of a blocked extra point all the way for two points -- to knot the game at 9-9 entering halftime -- certainly deserves your love. Talk about expending all your energy for the sake of the team!
Washington (5-6) is suddenly right in the playoff picture, now slotted in as the NFC's final Wild Card team, and will have a chance to solidify its standing with a cross-conference matchup in Week 13, when WFT will visit the Raiders (6-5). The Seahawks (3-8), meanwhile, who are one loss away from their first losing season under Pete Carroll in 10 years, will return home on Sunday to host the division rival 49ers (6-5), who have now won three straight.