SEATTLE — K.J. Wright tried to warn everybody. When the Seahawks linebacker learned his team opened up as six-point underdogs — an unprecedented number for a home game in the Russell Wilson era — he sent out a cautionary message.
“Don’t sleep on us,” Wright said. “We can be the best of the best. We are the best of the best.
You think anyone is sleeping on the Seahawks now? That 24-10 win over the Eagles was a bucket of ice water poured over every football fan and critic in the country.
It wasn’t the byproduct of a few bad calls and lucky bounces. It wasn’t the result of a depleted Philadelphia roster.
This was just Seattle manhandling the NFC Super Bowl favorites like they were the practice squad.
“To have us as underdogs by that much, it was pretty idiotic. Just absurd,” said Seahawks tight end Luke Willson. “In my mind, we’re still the team to beat, and we showed that tonight.”
A win is a win whether it’s by three points or 30. But the nature of Sunday’s victory had to be encouraging for the Seahawks (8-4).
It would have been one thing had they survived a 45-42 thriller — but to hold Carson Wentz and the NFL’s No. 3 offense to 10 points? Suddenly playing in February doesn’t seem inconceivable.
Seattle has played three games sans Kam Chancellor and Richard Sherman. They’ve given up just 57 points over that stretch, and in their loss to Atlanta, yielded an underwhelming 195 yards to Matt Ryan.
That’s hardly a suggestion that they’re as good without two of the best defensive backs in football, but they’ve proven they can’t be bullied whenever an opponent wants to do so.
Wentz was the leading candidate for NFL MVP coming into this game. He has been the driving force behind the Eagles’ 10-2 record. And even though he finished with 348 yards passing, the fact that it took him 48 throws to do it speaks to a formidable Seattle D.
“Word was getting around that we’re not the same defense,” said Seahawks safety Bradley McDougald, who replaced Chancellor as the Seahawks’ starting strong safety. “Guys are taking that personally.”
The Eagles also entered Sunday with the No. 2 rushing offense in the league, averaging 147.5 yards per game and 4.6 yards per carry. They finished with 98 yards on 26 carries Sunday, good for 3.8 per rush.
Whether Seattle can sustain this level of excellence against other offensive juggernauts such as the Rams is to be determined, but anyone suspecting a significant drop-off amid injuries was proved wrong Sunday night.
Of course, people cast similar doubts on the Seahawks’ offense earlier this season, but they have averaged 25.7 points in the seven games since their bye week. Quarterback Russell Wilson has played the principal role in the production, as he entered the game accounting for nearly 86 percent of the team’s yards from scrimmage.
Wilson was his usual efficient, elusive self Sunday, throwing for 227 yards and three touchdowns while rushing for 31 yards on six carries. His most impactful play came on a third-down lateral, when he ran six yards and flipped it to Mike Davis, who got the first down that led to Seattle going up 24-10 in the fourth quarter.
That was reminiscent of the pixie dust that used to cover the Seahawks during their Super Bowl years. So was defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson stripping Wentz on the 1-yard line in the third quarter, which prevented a game-tying touchdown as the ball bounced out of the end zone for a touchback.
Call it good fortune if you want to, but those two moments were playmaking at its finest. They exemplified the phrase “you make your own luck.”
After the game, reporters revisited with Wright, who didn’t hedge on his confidence. Asked what his team showed people who were snoozing on the Seahawks, he gave as frank a quote as you’re gonna get.
“We just showed them that we’re the best,” Wright said. “We’re still a Super Bowl team.”
As for the rest of the season?
“We should run the table,” Wright said.
Feel free to be skeptical of the prediction. This football team still has flaws. But sleep on the Seahawks at your own peril. Doing so usually leads to nightmares.