Seahawks continue to validate start, sit atop NFC West

RENTON, Wash. (AP) — After scuffling for the first month, the past two weeks showed the Seattle Seahawks what they are capable of accomplishing.

Seattle’s 37-23 win over the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday was the victory that validated the Seahawks are on the right path. It was Seattle’s second straight win and left the Seahawks on top of the NFC West.

The Seahawks defense has stopped hemorrhaging points and yards. Rookie running back Ken Walker III has burst onto the scene, moving into a starting role. And quarterback Geno Smith has continued to play beyond expectations.

However unexpected, it’s no wonder Seattle is sitting atop the NFC West after seven games.

“We have a long way to go — 4-3 is OK but it’s not the greatest,” Smith said. “We have a long way to go. We must keep building.”

Seattle’s win over the Chargers was its first over a team with a winning record this season. And they won despite DK Metcalf being a spectator for three quarters because of a knee injury and managing just one reception.

The Seahawks got a bit of good news regarding Metcalf. Coach Pete Carroll said Metcalf suffered a patellar tendon injury, but as of now won’t need surgery on the injury. Metcalf will do rehab on the knee in the hopes of being able to return.

When? That’s the unknown. After facing the Giants, Seattle is on the road at Arizona and then travels to Germany for its matchup against Tampa Bay in Munich, followed by the bye week.

Rest might make the most sense and as the Seahawks showed against the Chargers, the passing game is still pretty good even when Metcalf isn’t on the field. But Metcalf is pushing to get back as quickly as he can.

“In his mind he wants to try to practice Wednesday. I don’t know if that’s even possible. But he’s still pretty sore today,” Carroll said.

WHAT’S WORKING

If there was a concern about there being a drop-off from Rashaad Penny to Walker in the backfield, those have clearly been put to rest.

Walker was dynamic and explosive rushing for 168 yards and two touchdowns in his second career start. It was just the fifth time since 2014 a rookie has rushed for at least 165 yards and two scores in a game and the first since Jonathan Taylor in Week 17 of the 2020 season.

In his two games as a starter, Walker has run for 265 yards and averaged 6.02 yards per carry.

WHAT NEEDS HELP

Depth at wide receiver could become a concern depending on how long Metcalf is sidelined.

Tyler Lockett sat out of practice last week nursing a hamstring injury before catching seven passes for 45 yards. Penny Hart has missed the past two games with a hamstring injury and has just one catch on the season.

What Seattle needs is more of what it got from Marquise Goodwin on Sunday. Goodwin had four receptions for 67 yards and two TDs. It was the second multi-touchdown game of his career and first since 2018 when he was with San Francisco.

STOCK UP

Seattle’s defense as a whole deserves recognition for the improvements made the past two weeks and ones that Carroll believes are permanent. After getting handled by Detroit and New Orleans, the Seahawks didn’t allow an offensive touchdown against Arizona and on Sunday limited the Chargers to 53 yards rushing, 5 of 15 on third downs and two first downs or fewer on 10 of their 12 offensive possessions.

“It’s finally coming together and I think we just were growing we were taking steps, we’re making strides, and the only thing I could think of is just let’s just get back and do it again. And just keep doing it and keep attacking,” safety Ryan Neal said.

STOCK DOWN

WR Dee Eskridge continues to struggle finding a role in Seattle’s offense. Eskridge was targeted only once in the passing game and his fumble on a running play when he lined up in the backfield led to a Chargers touchdown. Eskridge was also called for an offensive pass interference penalty when he blocked too early on a screen pass.

INJURIES

Metcalf’s injury is the most significant as Seattle wasn’t necessarily deep at wide receiver to begin with. Phil Haynes and Nick Bellore both left with concussions on Sunday and will be in the league’s concussion protocol this week.

KEY NUMBER

65 — Walker is the first rookie since Saquon Barkley in 2018 with two touchdown runs of 65 yards or longer. Walker had a 74-yard TD run on Sunday and had a 69-yarder against New Orleans.

NEXT STEPS

As everyone expected at the start of the season, the biggest NFC matchup in Week 8 is the 6-1 New York Giants coming to Seattle. The Seahawks have won four of the past five meetings with the Giants, but the one loss came two seasons ago when New York — led by Colt McCoy — beat the Seahawks 17-12 in Seattle.

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