The Seahawks like to say that every game is a “championship opportunity,” although they didn’t need to give a championship performance on Monday night against Washington.
They weren’t sharp or finely tuned, except for quarterback Russell Wilson, who seems incapable of allowing his team to lose, and Percy Harvin, who scored the rare Phantom Hat Trick.
On what would be the deciding drive late in the final minutes of an eventual 27-17 Seattle win, the Seahawks faced third-and-4 with enough time for the Redskins to rally.
Defenders poured through gaps in the offensive line and had Wilson pinned down from every angle.
But he strategically retreated, spun a few times, did a pirouette and a triple Lutz, dematerialized and reformed in the open where he somehow found an open Marshawn Lynch, who ran 30 yards for the first down.
A sack there would have given the Redskins renewed life.
Wilson would not allow it.
Harvin was brilliant, too, having scored three touchdowns that were all called back by referee Jeff Triplette’s crew, making his scores the dubious Triplette triplet.
But they’re now good enough that they don’t have to be anywhere near their best to beat many teams in the league.
And maybe that’s a back-handed measurement of elite status, too.
On Monday Night Football, a domain they’ve dominated in recent seasons, they were chronically penalized, totally without rhythm, with erratic pass protection, and lost track of DeSean Jackson on a deep ball — but claimed the win nonetheless.
Even the center-quarterback exchange was oddly adventurous.
The Seahawks can’t be happy with the performance, although they’re not as upset as those fantasy football players who started Percy Harvin.
One of those fantasy players was Seahawks safety Earl Thomas, who said he started Wilson while his brother had the misfortune of starting Harvin.
“It could have been a very big night for us,” coach Pete Carroll said. “We were just a little bit out of whack.”
Nah, they were a lot out of whack. Most of the night, in fact.
There were some strange calls in this one. Center Max Unger was twice called for false starts, at least once it was described as an illegal head bob, when he was looking back at Wilson in the shotgun formation.
One of Harvin’s TDs came back because guard James Carpenter was flagged for hitting a player when he was down. A strange call.
Until deep in the first half, the Seahawks led 17-0 despite looking completely out of sorts. Washington looked so inept the Hawks seemed to able to name the score and then make it happen. Or won it playing their JV team.
But then DeSean Jackson got past safety Kam Chancellor in a funky coverage that clearly didn’t work.
Richard Sherman said it was an exotic design that simply failed against that play call.
Maybe the Hawks had a little trouble getting back to work after a bye week.
Hadn’t penalties been a syndrome of which they’d cured themselves? They had 13 on Monday night, only six fewer than they had in the previous three games this season.
And Wilson was under pressure much of the night as the line mostly spent the game holding or false-starting.
But that only allowed Wilson to seem even more brilliant, time after time eluding pressure or taking off with the ball himself.
His 122 rushing yards were the most a quarterback has ever gained in a Monday Night Football game. It broke his own franchise record for a quarterback.
Face it, there’s a knack to winning when you’re playing poorly.
“Football is always about what is next,” Thomas said. “And the challenge is (to fix) what we messed up tonight.”
There is a lot for them to fix after this one. They were out of synch and out of whack. But not out of the winners’ circle.
They return to Seattle to regroup for next Sunday’s Dallas game.
And a lot of them might take a few moments to pat their quarterback on the back.
Because, once again, he saved the game.