Nov 30, 2020; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Seattle Seahawks running back Chris Carson (32) reaches across the the goal line for a touchdown against Philadelphia Eagles free safety Rodney McLeod (23) during the second quarter at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Seahawks vs. Giants: NFC Best and Least leaders

For the second straight week, the NFC West-leading Seattle Seahawks will be matched up against the first-place team from the NFC East.

Or, as some have referred to their divisions, the NFC Best and NFC Least.

After knocking Philadelphia out of first place with a 23-17 victory on the road Monday night, the Seahawks (8-3) will host the New York Giants (4-7) on Sunday afternoon.

Consider if the Seahawks played in the Giants’ division, Seattle would have a four-game lead. Even San Francisco (5-6), the last-place team in the West, would be leading the NFC East.

The Giants might be without starting quarterback Daniel Jones after the 2019 first-round draft pick suffered a strained right hamstring in last Sunday’s 19-17 victory against Cincinnati and is questionable against Seattle.

“I certainly want to play and want to be out there,” said Jones, who missed practice Wednesday. “So where that puts me or how I recover depends on what I do day-to-day.”

Without Jones, the job would go to 34-year-old Colt McCoy, who has made 28 starts in his NFL career. Just three of those, however, have come in the past five years.

“He’s gonna step in. He’s gonna do his thing,” Giants wide receiver Sterling Shepard said of McCoy. “That’s the world we’re living in right now, and I feel like he’ll execute and step up and make plays.”

The Giants have won three games in a row, their longest streak since 2016. Those victories have come against Washington, Philadelphia and Cincinnati — teams with a combined record of 9-22-2.

“I don’t really care who we are playing,” said Shepard, the last player left on the roster from 2016. “We are focused on our abilities and what we can do.”

Wayne Gallman Jr., filling in for the injured Saquon Barkley and Davonta Freeman, rushed for 94 yards and a touchdown against the Bengals, and Graham Gano, fresh off the COVID-19 list, kicked four field goals.

That likely won’t be enough against Russell Wilson and the Seahawks, who are averaging 31 points per game, third in the NFL. DK Metcalf leads the league with 1,039 yards receiving and the running back duo of Chris Carson and Carlos Hyde is back after injuries sidelined both for a month.

Carson had a team-high 41 yards on just eight carries Monday, including a 16-yard, tackle-busting scoring run.

“Great to see Chris Carson back,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “Ran like a monster out there. That touchdown run was fantastic.”

Seattle’s defense, which has been ranked last in the league for most of the season, has shown signs of progress, allowing just 250 yards against the Eagles while sacking Carson Wentz six times.

“From the beginning we knew what we had, we knew what type of talent we had,” Seahawks safety Jamal Adams said. “It was only a matter of time.”

Recently acquired defensive end Carlos Dunlap, who has four sacks in as many games with Seattle, suffered a foot injury Monday night. Carroll said the injury wasn’t as serious as initially feared and Dunlap might play against the Giants.

–Field Level Media

Nov 19, 2020; Seattle, Washington, USA; Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) throws a touchdown pass against the Arizona Cardinals during the second quarter at Lumen Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Seahawks hold off Cardinals, move atop NFC West

Carlos Hyde rushed for a season-high 79 yards and a touchdown and Russell Wilson threw two scoring passes as the Seattle Seahawks broke a three-way tie atop the NFC West with a 28-21 victory against the visiting Arizona Cardinals on Thursday night.

The Seahawks (7-3) moved a half-game ahead of the Los Angeles Rams (6-3), who play Monday at Tampa Bay, and a game ahead of the Cardinals (6-4).

Hyde was back in action after missing three games due to a hamstring injury.

The Seahawks’ league-worst defense limited the Cardinals’ top-ranked offense to 314 yards, more than 100 below their average (425.5). Arizona gained just 57 yards rushing after entering with a league-best average of 168.9 per game.

The Cardinals reached Seattle’s 27-yard line in the final minute, but recently acquisition Carlos Dunlap sacked Kyler Murray on fourth-and-10 to clinch the victory.

Wilson completed 23 of 28 passes for a season-low 197 yards but didn’t commit a turnover. He threw touchdown passes of 25 yards to DK Metcalf and 11 yards to Tyler Lockett in the first half, and the Seahawks took a 16-7 lead into intermission. Jason Myers kicked a 27-yard field goal on the final play of the half.

Murray, who was 29 of 42 for 269 yards and two touchdowns, threw a 3-yard scoring pass to Chase Edmonds with 13:19 remaining to pull the Cardinals within 23-21.

Seattle punted on its next possession, but backed up the Cardinals to their own 14-yard line. Murray was called for intentional grounding on first down, putting the back at the 2, and J.R. Sweezy was flagged for holding in the end zone on the next play, giving the Seahawks a safety for a 25-21 lead and the ball.

Myers kicked a 41-yard field goal with 2:24 left to give the Seahawks a seven-point lead.

The teams traded touchdowns on their first possessions of the second half, both aided by personal foul penalties on the defense.

Murray threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to Dan Arnold to pull the Cardinals within 16-14.

Hyde scored on a 2-yard run at the other end to extend Seattle’s lead back to 23-14.

–Field Level Media

Oct 6, 2019; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Carlos Dunlap (96) watches from the sideline during a game against the Arizona Cardinals during the second half at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

Dunlap bets on himself, ready to go with Seahawks

Saying, “I put my money where my mouth is,” veteran defensive end Carlos Dunlap agreed to restructure his contract this week, enabling the Seattle Seahawks to add him to their active roster Wednesday, making him available for this week’s game against the Buffalo Bills.

Dunlap reportedly agreed to a reduced remaining salary for the 2020 season — earning $2 million for the rest of this year, rather than the $4.59 million according to his contract with the Cincinnati Bengals, who dealt him to the Seahawks on Sunday. That reduction was imperative for Seattle to fit him under the team’s salary cap; the Seattle Times reported the Seahawks had been $1.4 million over, citing the NFLPA salary cap report.

It comes with a catch, of course: Dunlap will earn a $3 million bonus if he is still on the roster on day five of the 2021 season. So, basically, the 11th-year player is gambling the $3 million that he’ll show the Seahawks real value in keeping him beyond this season, rather than cutting him loose to become an unrestricted free agent.

“I put my money where my mouth is, and now I’ve got to let my play speak — or my pads speak, as they would say here,” Dunlap said on a Zoom call before participating in his first practice with the team. “I have full confidence in betting on myself.”

Another possibility is that Seattle could extend his contract before it runs out at the end of the 2021 season — a season he is due to make $10.25 million base salary, plus the roster bonus. A two-time Pro Bowler (2015-16), Dunlap fell out of favor in Cincinnati with the coaching staff this season, and did not start in his last three games with the Bengals, and played just 12 snaps in his final appearance on Oct. 25.

Seattle coach Pete Carroll pointed out that Dunlap has been in Seattle since last Wednesday in anticipation of the trade, was confined to his hotel while completing the league’s COVID-19 protocols, and that he’s ready to go.

–Field Level Media

Nov 1, 2020; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Buffalo Bills running back Zack Moss (20) reacts to his touchdown run against the New England Patriots during the first quarter at Bills Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Division leaders clash as Seattle visits Buffalo

The Seattle Seahawks’ much-maligned defense might just be trending the right direction.

And reinforcements are on the way.

The NFC West-leading Seahawks (6-1) will travel to Buffalo on Sunday to play the AFC East-leading Bills (6-2).

Seattle’s defense allowed just 117 total yards and one score through three quarters of last weekend’s 37-27 victory against visiting San Francisco, before the 49ers’ backups put together some drives after the Seahawks had built a 23-point lead.

Coming off their first loss of the season, a 37-34 overtime setback at Arizona, linebacker Bobby Wagner, the Seahawks’ defensive captain, challenged his teammates to be better.

Wagner led by example with 11 tackles, two sacks, four quarterback hits and three tackles for loss to earn NFC Defensive Player of the Week

“I feel like as the leader of the defense, you have to address the team, you have to bring the issues to light and get everyone on the same page and talk about discipline and consistency,” Wagner said. “That’s kind of what we did. Everybody locked in.”

All-Pro Safety Jamal Adams, Seattle’s biggest offseason acquisition, is expected to return Sunday after missing four games with a groin injury. Two-time Pro Bowl defensive end Carlos Dunlap is set to make his Seahawks debut after being acquired in a trade last week with Cincinnati and defensive tackle Damon “Snacks” Harrison, another former Pro Bowler, is close to being in game shape after being signed as a free agent.

“Run, pass, the whole thing, we really played good ball (last Sunday),” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “Guys played great. Bobby Wagner was just everywhere on the field.”

MVP candidate Russell Wilson threw four more touchdown passes. Two of those went to DK Metcalf, who set career highs with 12 receptions for 161 yards.

Rookie running back DeeJay Dallas, a fourth-round pick out of Miami, forced into action because of injuries to Chris Carson (mid-foot sprain) and Carlos Hyde (hamstring), scored two touchdowns. Carroll said Carson and Hyde remain questionable for Sunday.

The Bills are coming off a 24-21 victory against visiting New England. The win wasn’t clinched until backup defensive lineman Justin Zimmer forced Patriots quarterback Cam Newton to fumble at the Bills’ 13-yard line with 31 seconds remaining.

On a wet and windy day, Buffalo rushed for a season-high 190 yards, with Devin Singletary gaining 86 and rookie Zack Moss adding 81 and two touchdowns.

“Enough was enough,” Bills left tackle Dion Dawkins said, referring to questions about Buffalo’s previously pedestrian ground game, which was averaging 97 yards per game entering last weekend. “We made a statement to run the ball.”

Josh Allen was 11-of-18 passing for 154 yards and also scored on a 2-yard run as the Bills snapped a seven-game losing streak against the Patriots and beat them at home for the first time since 2011.

“You see what happens when we have good games like that on the ground, especially in a typical AFC weather game like this,” Allen said.

Sunday’s forecast is for sunny skies and unseasonably warm temperatures in the upper 60s in Orchard Park, N.Y.

Bills center Mitch Morse was knocked out on the third play against the Patriots and remains in the concussion protocol. Receiver John Brown (knee), defensive end Jerry Hughes (foot) and cornerback Josh Norman (hamstring) have also missed practice time this week.

–Field Level Media

Nov 1, 2020; Seattle, Washington, USA; Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) drops back to pass against the San Francisco 49ers during the first quarter at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Wilson’s four TD passses lead Seahawks past 49ers

Russell Wilson threw four touchdown passes, and Seattle’s beleaguered defense was steady for three quarters as the Seahawks defeated the visiting San Francisco 49ers 37-27 on Sunday afternoon.

Wilson completed 27 of 37 passes for 261 yards as the Seahawks (6-1) bounced back from a 37-34 overtime loss last weekend at Arizona to maintain their spot atop the NFC West.

The 49ers (4-4), the defending NFC champions, suffered their first road loss of the season in four tries and remained in last place in the division.

The Seahawks, who had been allowing an average of 479.2 yards per game, held San Francisco to just 112 through the first three quarters as they took a 27-7 lead.

Wilson threw two touchdown passes to DK Metcalf in the first half, from 46 and 2 yards, to give the Seahawks a 13-7 advantage at intermission.

Wilson hit fourth-string running back DeeJay Dallas with a 2-yard TD pass and threw a 6-yard scoring strike to David Moore in the third quarter as Seattle extended its lead.

With their top three running backs out, the Seahawks were forced to turn to Dallas, a rookie from the University of Miami. Dallas carried 18 times for 41 yards and a 1-yard scoring run with 3:13 left. He caught five passes for 17 yards and a touchdown.

Metcalf had 12 receptions for 161 yards and the two scores.

49ers starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo suffered an ankle injury late in the third quarter and didn’t return. Garoppolo was 11-of-16 passing for 84 yards, with an interception. Tight end George Kittle left the game early in the fourth quarter with a foot injury.

Nick Mullens replaced Garoppolo and led three fourth-quarter scoring drives. Mullens completed 18 of 25 passes for 238 yards, including a 16-yard touchdown to Ross Dwelley and a 3-yarder to Brandon Aiyuk.

San Francisco’s JaMycal Hasty scored on a 1-yard touchdown run with 6:59 left in the second quarter to give the 49ers a 7-6 lead.

Teammate Jerick McKinnon rushed for a 1-yard score early in the fourth quarter.

–Field Level Media