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Take 2

A different spin on sports by The Seattle Times staff and readers.

December 7, 2014 at 10:37 PM

Seahawks vs. Eagles: Media trumpeting Seattle’s defense, Russell Wilson’s magic

Russell Wilson looks downfield for a receiver against the Eagles on Sunday.  John Lok / Seattle Times staff

Russell Wilson looks downfield for a receiver against the Eagles on Sunday.
Bettina Hansen / Seattle Times staff

The Seahawks’ defense continues to make believers of anyone who wasn’t convinced it’s back in 2013 form, and Russell Wilson remains a revelation.

Those are the dominant storylines from the national media and major newspapers after the Seahawks’ utterly convincing 24-14 road victory over the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday.

Entering the game, many were trumpeting coach Chip Kelly’s high-octane, hurry-up offense vs. Seattle’s dominating defense. It turned out to be no contest.

After three straight suffocating defensive performances, and vintage offense from Wilson, many are convinced Seahawks are the second-best team in the NFC. Only the Packers, a team Seattle thrashed in the NFL opener, seem to be playing better.

So here’s an updated roundup of what others are saying about the Seahawks after Sunday’s game. Included is a piece critical of Seahawks management by Yahoo.com’s Charles Robinson, an excellent story by Bleacher Report’s Mike Freeman,  good perspective from SI.com’s Peter King, tons of great stuff from the Philly writers and a lot more.

“IT’S UP TO WILSON TO SAVE SEATTLE’S OFFENSE FROM FRONT OFFICE’S POOR DECISIONS”

By Charles Robinson, Yahoo.com

All season long, Seattle has been a head-scratcher. The pieces have rarely aligned. But in that one play, you can see why. The offense has atrophied from a season ago. And with running back Marshawn Lynch’s pain threshold tested regularly of late, Wilson is it. He’s the guy. Philadelphia showed as much, containing Lynch and then progressively adding additional defenders to the blitz. Afterward, defensive coordinator Bill Davis spent time regretting that aggression, as it led to most of Seattle’s big plays.

All of which said a lot about Wilson. While Lynch was solid and the defense was superb, this win doesn’t happen without him making the necessary plays. And that’s the rub – there just isn’t much big-play help left in Seattle. The Seahawks’ hopes in the remainder of this season will live and die with Wilson. And unlike 2013, when Harvin provided a needed talent infusion for the stretch run, there is nobody coming to the rescue in the coming weeks. Either Wilson shifts it into high gear – and Sunday’s win was step toward that – or Seattle is going to hit a January wall of ice in Lambeau Field.

After all, that’s what this is about. From this moment forward, it won’t be good enough to just win the division or a playoff spot. It’s about getting to the point that Seattle can score, win out and keep from having to go to Green Bay this postseason. That’s where this Seattle offense is at. It needs to play at home. There aren’t enough offensive pieces to propel it to another run. Lynch isn’t healthy enough to shoulder the load as he did in 2013, and the defense can’t hold the fort forever.

Of course, Seattle won’t admit that. It doesn’t fit with the chosen concept. Instead, players use key phrases, like tackle Russell Okung saying, “We’re playing our type of ball,” and safety Earl Thomas saying “We have no fear,” and are “really connected now.” All of which is fine. The team is gaining momentum and just beat a good NFC playoff contender in a tough environment.

But the fight will be different this year because Seattle has only some of the hallmarks of last season’s Super Bowl winner. Poor personnel decisions have cut a swath through this offense. As much as wideouts like Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse have stepped up, the big-play ability from last season is still lacking. And that falls on the front office. Consider: Not recognizing Golden Tate’s value was a remarkable misstep, particularly after watching Tate hold down the No. 1 wideout spot in Detroit while Calvin Johnson was down. And his contract – five years and $31 million – would have been an extremely cheap price tag for a No. 1. But of course, that was when the Seahawks thought Harvin could be counted upon.

“SORTING THE SUNDAY PILE: SEAHAWKS DEFENSE SUPER SUFFOCATING”

By Will Brinson, CBSSports.com

If it wasn’t already clear, it should be abundantly apparent now: the Seahawks defense is back to championship form. After holding the Cardinals and 49ers to six points total — an NFL modern miracle — Pete Carroll’s crew completely snuffed out Chip Kelly’s high-powered offense.

The Eagles averaged 5.7 yards per play coming into the game and a league-leading 72.9 plays per game.

They did not do … that on Sunday.

A Kelly-run offense has never been held under 140 yards, college included. That’s a lot of football games where defenses couldn’t manage to shut down Kelly’s offense and Seattle did it on Sunday.

They were physical across the board and dominated the line of scrimmage, holding the Eagles to 2.6 yards per carry. LeSean McCoy averaged over 6 yards per carry the last two weeks; he averaged 2.9 Sunday. Darren Sproles was a non factor in the game.

Philly’s receivers never had a chance to do anything deep and were utterly blanketed down the field all night long. Jordan Matthews, Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper combined to finish with 8 catches and 57 yards. Suffocating.

This is what we saw from Seattle as they stormed to a Super Bowl victory last season. They’re heating up at the perfect time and opponents should be very afraid. Even scarier? Seattle took its defense on the road this week.

The Seahawks win didn’t actually bump them up the NFC standings, per se, but it does have massive long-term playoff implications.

Seattle looks like a lock to make the postseason; with three weeks to go they’re in a group of four teams at 9-4 (pending PackersFalcons). There’s still one team that will be odd man out in the NFC, but Seattle has a tiebreaker over the Eagles now.

“MONDAY MORNING QUARTERBACK: CAN J.J. BE MVP?”

By Peter King, SI.com

• Green Bay, New England and Seattle are the best teams in football, in some order. Then Denver. After that, there’s a big line of demarcation.

• If the Patriots win home-field in the AFC (three remaining foes’ combined record: 16-23), their quarterback and revived defense will make them very hard to beat in Foxboro. Or anywhere, for that matter.

• Russell Wilson was spectacular Sunday. With the Seattle defense playing like the ’85 Bears over the past three games (you can look it up), a Seattle-Green Bay NFC title game could be an all-timer. …

Dan Quinn is setting himself up to be a strong head-coaching candidate. The Seattle defensive coordinator will be on every head-coach-needy team’s homework list in the next month. He’s got the Pete Carroll verve and imagination, and the production of his defense rivals what we saw last year, when the Seahawks were the top-rated D in the league. They’re No. 1 again, with three straight incredible performances against playoff contenders. Here’s a number to behold, in this era of skyrocketing offense: In the last three games, Seattle has allowed an average of 6.7 points and 169 yards. Pick the great defenses in recent times, or any times, and Seattle will fall into line with them over the past two years—and that’s been Quinn’s bailiwick. “When the time comes, I feel I’ll be ready to take that step,’’ Quinn told me. “What’s great about coaching for Pete is that a lot of [head] coaches do all they can to keep their staffs together—Pete wants you to get ready to take a [head-coaching] job.” I said to Quinn that a lot of times a team’s postseason success can work against an aspiring head coach, because some (most) owners get impatient and won’t wait until after the Super Bowl to hire their coach. I told him for his sake I hope the length of the season didn’t roadblock him from a head-coaching shot. “I hope it does,” he blurted. That’s the kind of attitude, I’d think, that a prospective owner would like. …

THE FINE FIFTEEN

1. Green Bay (9-3). Not that it’ll matter much, but the wind chill tonight will be about 26 at kickoff, with snow showers during the day. Neither sleet nor snow nor blah blah blah will keep Aaron Rodgers from continuing this remarkable streak over the past 24 months at Lambeau Field: 31 touchdowns, zero interceptions.

2. New England (10-3). Quick note about the 2014 Patriots: Jamie Collins was a really good pick by Bill Belichick and Nick Caserio in the second round of the 2013 draft. Rangy and hard to block. Anyhoo … The Patriots clinch the AFC East with a win Sunday at home against Miami (yawn), and if it’s not this Sunday, it’ll be the next one. They’re at the Jets in 13 days.

3. Seattle (9-4). Troy Aikman on FOX, as the 24-14 dismantling of the Eagles in Philadelphia wound down: “The Seattle defense, they’re completely overwhelming. They’ve given up one play—that touchdown to [Zach] Ertz.” In the past three wins over Arizona, San Francisco and Philadelphia—by a combined 62-20—the Seahawks have allowed 204, 164 and 139 yards. 139 yards against a Chip Kelly offense! In Kelly’s house!

“SEAHAWKS SHOW THEY CAN SLOW DOWN EAGLES AND CHIP KELLY’S OFFENSE”

By Gary Myers, New York Daily News

The Legion of Boom sent a strong message to Chip Kelly’s supposed state-of-the-art offense: Is that the best you got?

The Super Bowl-champion Seahawks smothered Kelly’s fast break attack like so many onions on a Philadelphia cheesesteak, giving Mark Sanchez no place to go with the ball and holding the Eagles to a puny 139 yards of offense, not only the fewest in Kelly’s 29-game NFL coaching career, but also the fewest in his head coaching career, including his four years at Oregon. The Eagles had been averaging 416 yards per game.

The receivers could not gain any separation on the Legion of Boomer secondary.

“We never felt threatened,” Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman said after the 24-14 victory. “Our defense isn’t complicated at all. They want to hurry up, we got simple schemes. Man up, stand up.”

“RESURGENT SEAHAWKS COLLECT ANOTHER STATEMENT WIN”

By Don Banks, SI.com

Is it too soon to talk about a dream rematch of the Seahawks-Packers, who met in the NFL’s season-opener back in early September? Not really. The rest of the NFC just threw their best at the defending champion in the past three weeks, and got nowhere, with Seattle’s 24-14 manhandling of Philadelphia representing the latest reminder that a repeat of last year’s march to playoff glory could be in store.

Don’t let the 10-point final margin fool you. This was a thorough butt-kicking by the loud and proud visitors, and I can’t help but think that it will be of some benefit to the Seahawks should they meet up with the Packers next month, for that will be another road game against an NFC Super Bowl contender with an up-tempo offense and a hostile home-field advantage. Like the Packers can still boast in Week 14, the Eagles entered Sunday with a 6-0 home record and a track record of scoring points in bunches.

But that’s over for Philadelphia. The Eagles (9-4) got exposed by Seattle, which limited them to a paltry 139 yards of offense, the fewest in the two-year Chip Kelly coaching era, and took all the mystery out of an attack that never remotely found its rhythm or big-play ability. Philadelphia produced just nine first downs, was 2-of-11 on third downs (18 percent) and held the ball for only 18:04. Seattle shut down almost everything the Eagles tried to do offensively, and by the second half the frustration was starting to show, with Philadelphia complaining about non-calls against the Seattle secondary in pass coverage.

“People early in the week kind of brushed me off when I said they’ve got to deal with us just like we got to deal with them,” Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman said. “That’s what happened today. You can hurry up all you want, but if you can’t get yards, you can’t complete passes, then it’s just quick three-and-outs. And that’s what we were able to do.”

Like no team has previously been able to manage, Seattle was ready for the lightning-quick pace at which the Eagles like to play. The Seahawks made quick work of those three-and-outs, and used them to limit the chances Philadelphia had to inflict damage. The Seahawks forced two Eagles turnovers as well, but Philadelphia’s offense was done in by a defense that matched up supremely well against it, and mirrored its every move.

“You saw it,” Sherman said. “If you can be ready when they’re ready and understand their play concepts and read the indicator quick enough, you can get them off the field. I don’t know what their third-down numbers were, but this was one of our better games.

“It comes down to matchups at the end of the day, and if your players are sound, and they play disciplined and they play smart. Everybody was prepared, from our first man to our nickel subs. They knew what the looks were, they knew what to look for, and they were prepared. That’s coaching.”

Obviously, Eagles quarterback Mark Sanchez can’t compare to the challenge that Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers might pose in the playoffs. But this is a Seattle team that is getting its killer instinct back on defense, and dealing with the Eagles’ pace was a pretty good practice session for the tempo the Packers like to feature.

“WEEK 14 SUPERLATIVES: SEAHAWKS DEFENSE KEEPS ROLLING”

By Doug Farrar, SI.com

MVP(s): Seattle’s defense.

When the Seahawks were preparing to face the Arizona Cardinals on Nov. 23, they stood at 6-4, and faced two key games in a five-day stretch — the Cards that Sunday, and the 49ers on Thanksgiving Day. In those two games, they allowed six total points, refusing to give up a touchdown. Against Chip Kelly’s high-octane offense in Week 14, there were more points scored, but the Seahawks pulled off their third straight strong performance in that regard, keeping the Eagles to nine first downs and 139 total yards. Mark Sanchez finished his day with 10 completions in 20 attempts for 96 yards, two touchdowns and one pick, and one of those scores came with advantageous field position following a Seattle turnover — Philly started their second offensive series of the game at the Seattle 14-yard line after Seahawks punter Jon Ryan bobbled a snap.

While the return of Bobby Wagner is a huge bonus for the Seahawks, the real story over the last month has been the play of Seattle’s starting cornerbacks, Richard Sherman and Byron Maxwell. Over the last four games before the Eagles win, Sherman had allowed six catches on 17 targets for 84 yards with no touchdowns, two picks and a 12.5 opposing passer rating. Maxwell allowed eight catches on 16 targets for 108 yards with no touchdowns, one pick and a opposing passer rating of 45.8. As long as this defense keeps it up, the now 9-4 Seahawks (who gained a key tiebreaker with the 9-4 Eagles in the playoff race) are a team that absolutely nobody wants to deal with.

“RUSSELL WILSON IS PEAKING AT JUST THE RIGHT TIME FOR HIGHLY DANGEROUS SEAHAWKS”

By Mike Freeman, Bleacher Report

I don’t know where Russell Wilson ranks among the game’s top quarterbacks.

I don’t know how his arm strength ranks. Or his accuracy. Or his pocket awareness. Or any of the other artificial metrics cited by the stat geeks and metric nerds who say they study film 27 hours a day. I don’t know. I don’t care.

This is what I do know: Wilson has almost no downfield threat. His tight ends don’t scare anyone. His line is decent. His best weapon is a running back in a passing league.

Yet all I see from Wilson is a concert of excellence and double standards. Wilson’s accurate throws, his critics will say, are because of route-running by the receiver. Andrew Luck‘s are because of his radar-lock brain that is radar-locked on the receiver which allows his radar-locking mechanism to radar-lock, ’cause radar-lock gonna radar-lock.

No, you aren’t seeing 400-yard passing games from Wilson, but what you are seeing is a rise in his play. A resurgence. Revenge of the Russell. He’s back to Super Bowl form, and I would say he’s even better now than he was last year and this fact, as much as his defense, makes the Seattle Seahawks difficult to beat.

What the Seahawks’ 24-14 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday showed was, once again, if you don’t fear the Seahawks, you need to check yourself before they do it for you.

What’s even more stunning is how the competitors around the Seahawks are disintegrating as the Seahawks rise. The San Francisco 49ers are a mess. The Arizona Cardinals, without Carson Palmer, might be done. The Seahawks just beat Philadelphia. The Detroit Lions still can’t be trusted. Do you believe in the Dallas Cowboys? Hell no. Not yet.

So in the NFC, the Green Bay Packers are a clear No. 1, and then Seattle. That’s how it has to be.

“NFL HOT READS: END  COULD BE JUST A LOSS  AWAY FOR 49ERS”

By Tom Pelissero, USA Today

The Seahawks have a chance to crush the 49ers’ hopes in Seattle again — this time with two weeks to go in the regular season. And considering the way Jim Harbaugh’s crew stumbled through Sunday’s 24-13 loss to the woeful Raiders, it’s hard to imagine a magical rebound next week at CenturyLink Field, where San Francisco lost a thriller in the NFC title game 10½ months ago. These 49ers don’t look that much different on paper. But as 49ers great Ronnie Lott tweeted Sunday night, “The distractions this season have taken so much out of this great @49ers team.” It all goes back to tension surrounding Harbaugh and his uncertain future with the organization, which has done nothing to dispel the speculation. The defense remains a talented group, but it got carved up by rookie QB Derek Carr on Sunday and the 49ers offense remained impotent, failing to exceed 17 points for the sixth time in seven games. This is the third time this season the 49ers have been in this spot: On a two-game skid, with questions rising about whether they’re finished. The first two times, the 49ers responded with a three-game winning streak. The difference this time is the end — perhaps of a lot of things — is one loss away.

If the Seahawks do win — their defense’s domination in Sunday’s 24-14 win over the high-octane Eagles is one more reason to think they will — it will officially be a six-team race for five NFC playoff spots (with the other slot filled by whoever comes out of the Falcons-Saints-Panthers mess in the South). Best part of that: Head-to-head match-ups will help decide each race. The Cowboys visit the Eagles next Sunday night, the Cardinals host the Seahawks in Week 16, and the Packers host the Lions in Week 17. In contrast, 12 teams remain alive in the AFC — nine of them with either seven or eight wins. Will anybody run the table to seize a spot? Or will it be like the stretch run last season, which became a game of hot potato for the final berth?

Seahawks defensive tackle Jordan Hill, right, sacks Eagles quarterback Mark Sanchez in the fourth quarter.  John Lok / Seattle Times staff photo

Seahawks defensive tackle Jordan Hill, right, sacks Eagles quarterback Mark Sanchez in the fourth quarter.
John Lok / Seattle Times staff photo

“ON ROAD IN ROWDY STADIUM, SEAHAWKS SILENCE THE EAGLES’ FAST-PACED OFFENSE”

By Ben Shpigel, New York Times

Consider Seattle’s triumph belated vengeance for Oregon’s destruction of U.S.C. in 2009, the last time (Chip) Kelly faced (Pete) Carroll, whose accomplishment in the N.F.L. has legitimized the departures of college coaches like Kelly and Jim Harbaugh in San Francisco.

At Oregon, Kelly spent a day with Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson, who happened to be playing minor league baseball that day in Eugene. Kelly was impressed as much then as he was Sunday.

No quarterback in the N.F.L. thrives out of the pocket more than Wilson, whose ability to prolong plays has stressed even the most disciplined defenses.

After the teams opened the second half by trading touchdowns, putting Seattle in front by 17-14, the game turned on a five-play, 91-yard scoring drive that featured Wilson’s many assets. His 12-yard run off a bootleg gave Seattle space to operate. His deep toss to Doug Baldwin, who drew a 44-yard pass-interference call, showcased his awareness. His 23-yard touchdown pass to Baldwin revealed his deft touch for placing the ball where he wanted, when he wanted.

“Sometimes we lose him and we just have to look up at the big screen to figure out which way he’s going,” Baldwin said.

Figuring out which way the Seahawks are going these days is far easier: After another dominant performance by the most suffocating defense in the league, they are Super Bowl contenders once more.

“RUSSELL WILSON, LEGION OF BOOM DOMINATE EAGLES”

By Chris Wesseling, NFL.com

Our takeaways:

1. Russell Wilson unfurled a masterpiece of sandlot football, carrying the offense with his improvisational skills on broken plays. He converted a pair of third-and-15 plays as well as a third-and-13, the latter setting up a field goal in the two-minute drill just before halftime. For Seattle to get away with no structure to the passing game, Wilson has to be the best player on the field. That was certainly the case on Sunday.

2. If there was any doubt that the Legion of Boom is back to Super Bowl-level dominance after getting Bobby Wagner, Kam Chancellor and Byron Maxwell back in recent weeks, this game put it to rest. The Eagles had been averaging 35 points and 420 yards per game since Mark Sanchez took over for Nick Foles. They managed just 139 net yards on Sunday, 61 fewer than their previous low under Chip Kelly. Similar to the shut-down performance against the Broncos last February, the Seahawks smothered Sanchez’s receivers, forcing him to settle for short passes. The first of Sanchez’s touchdowns was the result of a short field following an aborted punt. The second was simply a perfect pass on a well-schemed play to Zach Ertz.

“NFL GRADES WEEK 14”

By John Breech, CBSSports.com

Seahawks grade: A

Not only did the Seahawks go on the road and hand the Eagles their first home loss of 2014, but they did it in dominating fashion. The Seahawks defense held the high-powered Philly offense to 139 total yards. It was the Eagles lowest offensive output since October 2005 and the lowest offensive output of the Chip Kelly-era.

Eagles grade: C-plus

The Seahawks suffocated the Eagles offense. Mark Sanchez looked lost for most of the game and the holes just weren’t there for LeSean McCoy (17 carries, 50 yards). Going 2 for 11 on third down didn’t help things either. A gutsy effort by the Eagles defense is what kept this game from turning into a blowout.

“LAST CALL WEEK 14: AFC HOPEFULS TAKE A HIT”

By John Clayton, ESPN.com

Seahawks look like No. 2 seed: Pete Carroll’s game plan on defense topped Chip Kelly’s offensive plan in the Seattle Seahawks‘ 24-14 victory in Philadelphia. Kelly goes up-tempo. Carroll slows down the game with a running game, trying to set up the defense to win it. As a result, the Seahawks dominated the time of possession (41:56 to 18:04). They ran 85 plays to the Eagles’ 45.

Russell Wilson is able to keep a lot of drives alive,” Kelly said. “He was the difference for them offensively.”

The Wilson-Marshawn Lynch combination outdid anything Kelly put on the field Sunday. The league’s best running team had 188 yards on 46 carries. Wilson completed 22 of 37 passes for 263 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 48 yards and one score. By controlling the ball on offense, the Seahawks kept their defense fresh and kept the pressure on Eagles quarterback Mark Sanchez. He completed only 10 of 20 passes for 96 yards and was sacked three times.

Over the past three weeks, Seattle’s No. 1-ranked defense has allowed only 20 points, has pressured quarterbacks and is regaining the swagger it had last season when it won the Super Bowl. They still trail the Arizona Cardinals by one game in the NFC West, but with three more NFC West games remaining, they have a chance to take control of the division and secure the No. 2 seed. The Green Bay Packers appear to be headed for the No. 1 seed.

“SEAHAWKS HAVE MORPHED BACK INTO THEIR CHAMPIONSHIP IDENTITY”

By Jarrett Bell, USA Today

It was not pretty, unless you are like (Michael) Bennett & Co., finding beauty in the black-and-blue bruises that a defense can inflict. It was a thorough beatdown, by all measures. Philadelphia managed just nine first downs. Went 2-for-11 on third downs. Averaged 2.6 yards per carry. Had a season-low 45 plays.

Remember, this is the unit created by Kelly, who came from the college level with a wide-open, fast-paced offense that has caused most NFL defenses an assortment of fits.

Some of the Seahawks, though, scoffed at the notion that a unit that entered the game averaging one snap for every 22.8 seconds of possession – the fastest rate in the league – could dictate the flow against a defense that is playing its best football of the season.

“Our coaches hyped it up all week to be real fast-paced,” defensive end Cliff Avril told USA TODAY Sports. “Then we prepared for it. And then it didn’t feel like it was that much of a difference.”

The Seahawks defense, as Sherman maintains, is surely built for such tests. Although that was demonstrated during the last Super Bowl, when the Seahawks squashed Denver’s record-setting offense, for much of the season it has been a time of rediscovery.

“EAGLES CAN’T HANDLE WILSON, SEAHAWKS”

By Marcus Hayes, Philadelphia Daily News

Russell Wilson was a lethal difference, more than his statistics can relate. He passed for 263 yards and two touchdowns on 22-for-37 passing and rushed for 48 more yards. It was an elegant execution, but an execution nonetheless.

If Aaron Rodgers is Larry Bird or Michael Jordan, then Wilson Russell is Isiah Thomas, or Chris Paul.

Wilson manages the read-option with just enough quickness, with just enough speed, with a willingness and ability to throw and with ample field genius.

The Eagles mush-rushed and tried to contain him inside the hashmarks, and he was as glad to throw the ball away as he was to toss it downfield or break contain and try his luck.

Trent Cole twice kept discipline and limited Wilson, but once he bit so hard on a play fake that Cole ran 30 yards laterally before he realized Wilson had kept it.

Another time, Wilson juked Fletcher Cox onto the ground while running away from the line of scrimmage.

Again and again Wilson extended plays 3, 4, 5 seconds longer than they should have lasted; kept him eyes downfield; and connected on easy throws.

“EAGLES BLOW CHANCE TO MAKE A STATEMENT”

By Rich Hofmann, Philadelphia Daily News

he Eagles were unanimous about two things yesterday at Lincoln Financial Field: that the Seattle Seahawks did, indeed, beat them by the score of 24-14, and that there are no measuring sticks in the NFL.

Because if there were measuring sticks, hoo boy.

If there were measuring sticks, it would be only fair to point out that when you look at how they have fared against the best teams on their schedule, the Eagles won at Indianapolis, lost close games at San Francisco and Arizona, lost badly at Green Bay, and now have lost decisively at home to Seattle. If there were measuring sticks, it also would be fair to mention that their other good win, at Dallas on Thanksgiving, came against a quarterback who was dealing with a broken back and a broken rib and who was obviously struggling physically because of the short week of recovery.

If there were measuring sticks, that is.

I don’t believe in that measuring stick stuff,” Trent Cole said, repeating what pretty much everybody in the room said. “This is every Sunday…Every game is different, you know? Every team’s different. You never know what can happen.”

“EAGLES SHOW THEY’RE NOT IN SEAHAWKS’ CLASS YET”
By Zach Berman, Philadelphia Inquirer

Richard Sherman cupped his ear, antagonizing the Philadelphia crowd during the Eagles’ 24-14 loss to the Seattle Seahawks, and the Seahawks cornerback had every reason to gloat. There was no possible retort. The silence of the Eagles offense spoke volumes.

If the Seahawks’ visit on Sunday offered a chance to measure the Eagles against the defending Super Bowl champions and coach Chip Kelly’s offense against the NFL’s top defense, then the loss became an indisputable indication that the Eagles are not yet in Seattle’s class.

The Eagles offense totaled 139 yards, the worst output since Kelly became coach. It was their first home loss this season.

“You go into the game with a game plan thinking you can execute, but I’ll give them credit: They did a hell of a job on defense and played better than us today,” Kelly said. “. . . There wasn’t a lot to write home about offensively today.”

“EAGLES COULDN’T MEASURE UP TO SEAHAWKS IN SHOWDOWN GAME”

By Bob Brookover, Philadelphia Inquirer

They were more businesslike than boastful in the visiting locker room after executing one of the most lopsided 24-14 victories you’ll see on an NFL field. The Seattle Seahawks had heard all about the Eagles’ fast pace and explosiveness on offense and they did not disrespect it even after they had demolished it.

That said, the Seahawks’ defensive players knew if they came into Lincoln Financial Field Sunday and played at the same high level they did last season and again in recent weeks, they would leave Philadelphia with their sixth win in seven games. In other words, they knew they were better than the Eagles and they proved it in impressive fashion.

“They got weapons, but we got weapons, too,” Seattle middle linebacker Bobby Wagner said. “We got a lot of weapons. Our defense is stacked. We have the secondary, the linebackers, the defensive line. I heard a lot of talk about the high-tempo offense, but what about our high-tempo defense?”

It’s impressive. It was good enough to win a Super Bowl last year and it may be good enough to win another one this year. The Seahawks may not repeat as champions because a trip to Green Bay in January would be difficult for any team, but it’s not an impossible dream. In fact, it is easy to envision another Super Bowl week with running back Marshawn Lynch’s nonsensical silence and Richard Sherman’s perpetual chatter.

“You can hurry up all you want, but if you can’t get yards and you can’t complete passes then it’s just quick three-and-outs,” Sherman said after the Seahawks halted the Eagles’ 10-game home winning streak.

This latest Eagles loss stung as much as the one in Green Bay because it was more proof that coach Chip Kelly’s program is not ready for the really big stage.

That does not mean there is anything wrong with Kelly’s scheme. We’ve seen it work before and it could work again Sunday when the Eagles face another critical NFC East test against the Dallas Cowboys. Even the Seahawks had admiration for what the Eagles have done most of this season but could not do against them.

“WHOSE TO BLAME FOR EAGLES’ 24-14 LOSS TO SEATTLE SEAHAWKS?”

By Eliot Shorr-Parks, NJersey.com

It took until his post game session with the media for Eagles head coach Chip Kelly to finally get something right on Sunday.

“I think when you play a game like this, it doesn’t fall on anybody’s one shoulder,” Kelly said after his team’s loss to the Seattle Seahawks. “It falls on everybody and collectively we have to own it. We didn’t play until enough to win and we didn’t play well enough in all three phases to win this football game.”

That is an understatement.

Kelly and the Eagles were handed one of their worse losses of the season on Sunday, dropping them to 9-4 on the season. The loss dropped them to 1-4 against teams in the NFC with a winning record, and cast serious doubt over whether they are ready to compete with the top teams in the league.

“MARK SANCHEZ A DISASTER AS SEAHAWKS RIP EAGLES”

By Bart Hubbuch, New York Post

It was the Eagles’ turn Sunday to feel the vise grip of a rejuvenated Seattle defense.

Philadelphia’s tenuous hold on the NFC East evaporated on a chilly afternoon at Lincoln Financial Field as Mark Sanchez and the Birds were smothered in a 24-14 loss to a Seahawks team that suddenly looks like a threat to win back-to-back Super Bowls.

Don’t be fooled by the 10-point spread, because this was as suffocating a defensive performance as you will see in the NFL considering the victim began the day fourth in the league in both points and yardage.

It was an historic effort, too, as the Eagles’ 139 total yards marked the lowest single-game output in Chip Kelly’s six seasons as a head coach. The previous low was 152 yards by Kelly’s Oregon Ducks against Boise State in his 2009 coaching debut.

“It only matters who was better on the field [Sunday], and it wasn’t us,” Sanchez said. “It absolutely wasn’t us. That’s really too bad, because I think we match up well with them.”

“EAGLES DON’T MEASURE UP AGAINST SEAHAWKS, ELITE TEAMS”

By Phil Sheridan, ESPN.com

(Chip) Kelly has won 19 of the 30 NFL games he has coached, including the playoffs. He is building a winning culture and a winning program in Philadelphia. But it is not at elite level, and it is fair to wonder whether it will get there from the track it is on right now.

The Eagles lost three road games in Arizona, San Francisco and Green Bay. They failed to score a point on offense against the 49ers. They scored 20 in Arizona and 20 in Green Bay. This was their first game against an elite NFC team at home, an opportunity to win a playoff-type game against an opponent they very well might see again in January.

All of that made their performance very disappointing.

The Eagles were outcoached. Seattle’s Wilson was better than Mark Sanchez. Seattle’s defense was better than the Eagles’ defense. None of those things will mean a thing once the Eagles actually get to the postseason. The question is whether they have shown that they will be capable of beating the Seahawks or the Packers, the kind of team they will have to play in the postseason.

Marshawn Lynch of the Seahawks scores a third-quarter touchdown against Philadelphia.  John Lok / Seattle Times staff

Marshawn Lynch of the Seahawks scores a third-quarter touchdown against Philadelphia.
John Lok / Seattle Times staff

“SEAHAWKS’ DEFENSE TOO FAST FOR FAST-PACED EAGLES”

By Terry Blount, ESPN.com

You can run the plays fast, but you can’t hide, not from a defense as good as the Seattle Seahawks‘.

The vaunted Philadelphia Eagles offense under coach Chip Kelly, the fast-paced, big-play unit that also has one of the best running backs in the NFL in LeSean McCoy, was no match for the Seattle defense Sunday in the 24-14 loss.

The Seahawks held the Eagles to only 139 yards of offense, their lowest total since Kelly became the coach last season. It also was the fewest yards the Seattle defense has allowed since the 2005 season.

The Eagles average almost 73 plays a game, but ran only 45 Sunday and were 2-for-11 on third down.

So how did the Seahawks do what no other team has done against the Eagles at home? What’s the secret?

“I don’t think there’s any secret,” Seattle middle linebacker Bobby Wagner said. “There was a lot of talk about their fast-paced offense, but it doesn’t matter. No matter how fast they ran a play, we were just on it. We knew what plays were coming and it’s a pretty basic offense. Their offense is kind of predictable. They have a lot of plays where they can only run one way. We were ready for everything they had.”

“RICHARD SHERMAN: EAGLES MISS DESEAN JACKSON”

By Marc Sessler, NFL.com

Chip Kelly‘s Philadelphia offense ground to a halt against the Seahawks on Sunday, and Richard Sherman says he knows why.

The All-Pro Seahawks cornerback told reporters after Seattle’s 24-14 win that the Eagles‘ passing game desperately misses DeSean Jackson.

“I think they miss him tremendously,” Sherman said of the current Redskins receiver. “He was an incredible threat — still a threat in this league. You can tell by things he’s doing out there in Washington.”

Said Sherman of Philly’s current wideouts: “We never felt threatened.”

“RUSSELL WILSON PEAKING AT JUST THE RIGHT TIME FOR HIGHLY DANGEROUS SEAHAWKS”

By Rob Maaddi, The Associated Press

A dominant defensive performance against Chip Kelly’s high-powered offense even had Earl Thomas showing off his dance moves.

Russell Wilson threw two touchdown passes, ran for another score and the Seattle Seahawks stifled Philadelphia in a 24-14 victory over the Eagles on Sunday.

Thomas, Richard Sherman and the rest of Seattle’s “Legion of Boom” defense held the Eagles to 139 total yards, the fewest under Kelly. Seattle held the ball for a franchise-record 41:56 and Philadelphia ran just 45 plays.

“I might be the most uptight guy on the defense, but even I was dancing today,” Thomas said. “We expect to dominate every time we step out.”

“SEAHAWKS VS. SEAHAWKS: SCORE, TWITTER REACTION”

Tim Keeney, Bleacher Report

Injuries and inconsistent play led to a slow start to the season for the Seattle Seahawks. But Sunday afternoon’s 24-14 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles served as the third straight warning shot to the rest of the league.

The defending champs are nearing last year’s form.

Seattle went into Lincoln Financial Field and dominated the NFC East-leading Eagles on both sides of the ball to earn the win.

“SEAHAWKS REBORN AS NFL MOST DANGEROUS TEAM AFTER DOMINATING EAGLES”

By Alex Marvez, Foxsports.com

The team meeting held last month to refocus on collective goals helped tremendously. So did the return of some key defensive players from injuries. There also is something to be said for the hangover and internal drama that often affects the defending Super Bowl champion finally fading away.

Put these elements together and what you have is the return of the NFL’s most dangerous team — the Seattle Seahawks.

The Philadelphia Eagles were the latest opponent to get steamrolled, suffering a 24-14 home loss Sunday that wasn’t as close as the score indicates.

This was an overwhelming Seahawks performance on both offense and defense against a squad riding high atop the NFC East. The Eagles (9-4) were grounded just like Seattle (9-4) dispatched division rivals Arizona (10-3) and San Francisco (7-6) in its previous two games, when the renaissance truly began.

“I felt the camaraderie and connection of the team coming together around the Arizona game,” Seahawks strong safety Kam Chancellor said as celebratory hip-hop blared throughout the visiting locker room at Lincoln Financial Field. “Everybody was just like, ‘It’s time. Let’s go. We’ve got to pick this up.’

“You could just see it and feel it. It’s real. It’s happening.”

The Eagles learned that the hard way in their first home loss of the season.

“NFL WINNERS AND LOSERS: GOODNIGHT, 49ERS”

By Frank Schwab, Yahoo.com

WINNERS

Seahawks defense: It took a while, but the Seahawks defense we’re used to watching is back.

The Seahawks have looked good the past few weeks, and were scary good on Sunday. Philadelphia quarterback Mark Sanchez had 96 passing yards. The Eagles averaged 2.6 yards per carry. Chip Kelly’s offense got nine first downs. The Eagles were completely shut down by the Seahawks. The final score was 24-14 but it wasn’t that close. Seattle outgained Philadelphia 440-139. It was a demolition.

The Seahawks were banged up earlier in the season. Cornerback Byron Maxwell and linebacker Bobby Wagner missed time. Safety Kam Chancellor didn’t look like himself earlier in the season. They’re all back and the Seahawks look like the defense that won the championship last year. Beware, NFC.

“NFL SCORES, NEWS AND HIGHLIGHTS: WHAT HAPPENED SUNDAY IN WEEK 14”

By Danny Kelly, SB Nation

The Eagles came into their game on Sunday with the Seahawks averaging 416 yards and 31.2 points per game, but Seattle’s defense dominated almost from start to finish, holding Chip Kelly’s offense to 14 points on 139 total yards — the lowest yardage output in Kelly’s career … including his college coaching days.

Seattle’s pass rush and tight coverage in the secondary made Eagles quarterback Mark Sanchez uncomfortable all game, and the former Pete Carroll pupil finished just 10-of-20 for 96 yards, two touchdowns and an untimely interception in the fourth quarter as Philly was trying to mount a comeback. That pick sealed the deal for Seattle, who played a more dominating game than the final score indicated.

The Seahawks put up 440 yards of offense while controlling the clock for nearly 42 minutes, racking up 28 first downs to Philly’s nine. The NFL’s leading rushing team put up another 188 yards on the ground – including 86 yards on 23 carries for Marshawn Lynch – while getting a clean 22-of-37 passing performance from Russell Wilson. Wilson finished with 263 yards, two touchdowns and no picks in while adding 48 yards and a touchdown with his legs.

The Seahawks’ dominating performance puts the NFC officially on notice: The Legion of Boom is back, firing on all cylinders. The front seven is as stout as ever, too. Pete Carroll’s group has now held the Cardinals, 49ers, and Eagles to a combined 20 points over the last three weeks. On the other side of the ball, Wilson and the Hawks’ offense is starting to play with more efficiency and explosiveness.

At 9-4, the Hawks’ control their own destiny, and they finish off the year with three division games — the 49ers next week, Arizona the week after, then the Rams in Week 17. It’s always tough sledding in the NFC West, but Seattle looks good for the playoffs and has a real shot at getting one of those first-round byes and home-field advantage.

The Seahawks are getting hot at the right time.

“NFL PLAYOFF PICTURE”

Vinnie Iyer, sportingnews.com

Eagles (9-4). They still hold the NFC East lead after losing to Seattle, and would get close to locking it up again if they can finish a sweep of Dallas at home next week. They are looking at this same seed for a second straight postseason. What’s left: vs. DAL, at WAS, at NYG

Seahawks (9-4). Their win in Philadelphia ensured they would keep the top wild-card position and keep pace with Arizona with still a strong chance to take the division lead away in Week 16. What’s left: vs. SF, at ARI, vs. STL

“ODDSMAKERS MAKE 49ERS BIG UNDERDOGS AT SEATTLE”

Mike Wilkening, profootballtalk.com

With their playoff hopes flickering, the 49ers face a must-win game at Seattle next Sunday. And they are big underdogs — just about as big as they’ve ever been in Jim Harbaugh’s four seasons as head coach.

Nevada sports books have made the Seahawks nine- to 10-point favorites over the 49ers, per VegasInsider.com, which tracks line movement around the state.

Per the Spreadapedia database, this is just the second time in Harbaugh’s tenure that San Francisco has been an underdog of a touchdown or more. The Niners defeated the Eagles 24-23 in Philadelphia as 10-point underdogs in 2011.

Want to be a reader contributor to The Seattle Times’ Take 2 blog? Email your original, previously unpublished work or proposal to Sports Editor Don Shelton at dshelton@seattletimes.com or sports@seattletimes.com. Not all submissions can be published. Opinions expressed are those of authors, and The Times reserves the right to edit and publish any submissions online and/or in print.

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