The Seattle Seahawks, led by quarterback Geno Smith and coach Pete Carroll, will return to postseason competition.
The Detroit Lions shocked the football world with a 20-16 victory over the Green Bay Packers on Sunday night at Lambeau Field, an event that few predicted would happen after the trade of Russell Wilson.
Seattle’s chances of making the playoffs as the seventh seed in the NFC were kept alive after a 19-16 overtime victory over the Los Angeles Rams earlier in the day. A win or draw by the Detroit Lions was necessary.
In the wild-card round, the Seahawks (9-8) will travel to Santa Clara to take on the Niners (13-4), who are the second seed in the NFC. Seattle’s losses this season to their division foe have come at the hands of the opponent.
Both Wilson and defender Bobby Wagner were released in March, marking the end of an era for the Seahawks and the beginning of what was largely anticipated to be a season of rebuilding. They were picked to finish dead last in the NFC West with 5.5 wins.
Yet, after spending most of the previous seven years as a backup, Smith delivered a Pro Bowl season after knocking out Drew Lock in the offseason battle to replace Wilson, and the Seahawks gained huge contributions from a good rookie class to surpass expectations.
After starting the season 6-3 and atop the NFC West, they lost five of their next six games and were eliminated from playoff contention in the NFC until winning their final two games.
On Sunday, Smith threw two interceptions and came close to throwing a third. Despite this, he guided Seattle to the game-winning drive in OT with a touchdown pass. Smith set up the Seahawks for the game-winning kick at the end of regulation, but Jason Myers missed from 46 yards out.
Smith received an additional $1 million in incentives due to the Seahawks’ postseason berth. With a basic salary of $3.5 million, he earned every penny of the stimuli in his one-year contract.
Under head coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider, the Seahawks have made the postseason ten times in the last thirteen years.