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NFL

Watch Out, The Seahawks Have A Defense Now

The Seattle Seahawks defense celebrates a stop on third down
Abbie Parr/Getty

I’m still just in awe that Jamal Adams managed to close that gap. The only reason the L.A. Rams didn’t get a game-tying seven-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter during their loss to the Seahawks on Sunday was because the Seattle safety ran like the wind in order to catch up with running back Darrell Henderson on the opposite end of the field from where Adams blitzed. Henderson still managed a first down on second-and-5, but he did not cross the goal line, and rewatching the ex-Jets safety make the effort to hunt Henderson down and grab his legs, with the new knowledge of all that came after this particular play, is terrifying and exhilarating.

“Football is a game of inches,” Adams said afterwards in an energetic postgame press conference. “And there was no way that I was going to let him walk into that end zone, no matter what happened.

“My number was called, I had to go make a play, I had to chase it down. There was no way I was going to let up, and golly, just a hell of a play.”

That tackle, of course, looked less than game-changing in the immediate moments after it occurred. Even with that superheroic effort from Adams, the Rams still had first-and-goal from the two yard line, which made them near locks to tie the game up at 13-all with a quarter left to play. But it was four straight stops on four straight runs that made Adams’s pursuit the focal point of the conversation about an hour later.

First, a couple of Seahawks defenders swarmed Malcolm Brown for a two-yard loss. Then, Brown made up the distance with a three-yard rush that would have gone for six were it not, again, for Adams knocking him to the ground. Then Jared Goff failed at a QB sneak, and finally, Brown couldn’t find a hole on the outside and forced his team to give up possession after a fruitless seven-plus minute drive. Goal-line stands are very neat whenever they happen, so here’s all of that fantastic sequence.

The Seahawks allowed just three points across the rest of the game, notably forcing another crucial Rams drive to stall at midfield with eight minutes to play and the score 13-9, and their performance was enough to clinch the most difficult division in the NFC. Nobody enjoyed the accomplishment more than Adams, who had spent the summer orchestrating his escape from the Jets, a team with whom he had not had a winning season in three tries.

Adams picked up the defensive back record for sacks back in Week 14 of this year, and Seattle’s best player on that side of the ball claimed after this win that his Seahawks own the best defense in the league. The thought would have been laughable just a few months ago, when Seattle kept getting itself into shootouts and giving out four- and five-hundred-yard games like Halloween candy. But since Carlos Dunlap arrived from the Bengals, taking the pressure off the secondary to force sacks, and since guys like Adams and Shaquill Griffin have returned to full health, this whole unit has clicked into something monstrous—and something they’ve needed to fill the void left by the decline of Russell Wilson’s MVP candidacy.

“This is the plan that we had at the beginning of the year when we started those Zoom meetings, when we started training camp,” said cornerback Quandre Diggs. “This is what we dreamed about, going out there and holding teams to nine points.”