Posted on December 11, 2017, by Travis Pulver
When the Seattle Seahawks and Jacksonville Jaguars took the field Sunday, both teams had something on the line. For Jacksonville, it was a chance to secure the team’s first winning record since 2007. For Seattle, it was a must-win game if they wanted to hold onto the No. 6 seed in the NFC. But with how the game ended, the playoff implications are the last thing people will be talking about.
It was probably Jacksonville’s most complete game of the season. The defense held Seattle scoreless in the first half, intercepted Russell Wilson three times and sacked him twice. Blake Bortles had his second game in a row with two touchdowns and no interceptions (18-27 for 268 yards).
Leonard Fournette had is fifth 100+ yard rushing day of the season (24 carries for 101 yards) and scored his seventh rushing touchdown of the season.
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To be fair, the Seahawks had their moments as well. The Seattle defense held Jacksonville to just a single field goal in the first half. They struggled on both sides of the ball in the third quarter and fell behind 27-10 with 10:04 left to play.
But in typical Seahawks-fashion, they shook off Russell Wilson’s three interceptions and the 17-point deficit and mounted a spirited comeback. A 61-yard bomb from Wilson to Paul Richardson closed the gap down to 27-17. Jacksonville answered with a field goal to make the score 30-17. But then two plays later Russell Wilson did it again.
This time, he connected with Tyler Lockett for a 74-yard touchdown. With that, the deficit was cut to six, 30-24, with 3:42 left to play.
Seattle’s defense did its part and forced a three and out on the next drive, but the Jacksonville’s defense did its part by forcing a turnover on downs. But if Seattle could force another three and out, they would get one more chance.
But when Fournette ripped off a 13-yard run on 3rd and 11 it was game over— which was also when the game got ugly.
Bortles took a knee on the next play, as expected at that point in the game. But the Seattle defense decided to do a few unexpected things.
Sheldon Richardson and Michael Bennett decided to try and blow up Jacksonville’s victory formation. Bennett can be seen diving at the center’s legs and trying to roll up on them (this coming from a guy who once fought a teammate in practice for doing the same thing).
The Jaguars responded as could be expected and a scuffle ensued. In the process, Sheldon Richardson was ejected for throwing a punch. Pete Carroll drew a flag for coming onto the field and Quinton Jefferson was ejected play later, but as he enters the tunnel to leave the field he gets in a shouting match with some Jacksonville fans and one or two throw beers on him.
This is where it got real ugly. Jefferson decided to attempt to go after the fans in question. Security intervened and got him back into the tunnel, but the damage was done.
With the 30-24 win over the Seahawks and Tennessee’s loss to Arizona, the Jaguars have sole possession of first place in the AFC South. It’s the first time it has happened this late in the season since 2010. Jags linebacker Myles Jack shared some thoughts on what it means after the game (ESPN):
“We’ve got a long way to go before we earn the respect of the entire league but we know what we’re doing here. We know the work we’re putting in week in and week out, and we’ve just got to go and show that. We just got to try and win out these games, go into the playoffs, and then we’ll earn some respect….”
Jacksonville takes on the Houston Texans next week.
For Seattle, the loss in itself is not devastating since the Rams ended up losing to Philadelphia. But the suspensions that are likely coming could prove costly. With the emphasis the NFL has put on safety, it is not hard to imagine Bennett receiving a hefty fine and a one-game suspension for his actions.
It wouldn’t be shocking if Jefferson didn’t play the rest of the 2017 season. What the fans did is inexcusable, but that doesn’t mean he can take matters into his own hands. Richardson will likely get a hefty fine, but will probably not be suspended.
Next week, the Seahawks have a crucial division game against the Los Angeles Rams. A win would practically lock up the division for them. But they are going to be hard-pressed to get that win down two key defenders.
So, they may have lost more than just the game. They may have lost their shot at the playoffs.