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Massive unknown hangs over Seahawks’ future after monumental win

Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll celebrates with wide receiver Marquise Goodwin after Goodwin scored on a 20-yard touchdown reception against the Chargers, Sunday in Inglewood, Calif. (Jennifer Buchanan / The Seattle Times) By Matt Calkins  Seattle Times columnist Seahawks My Account  Subscribe Massive unknown hangs over Seahawks’ future after monumental win Oct. 23, 2022 at 8:14 pm Updated Oct. 23, 2022 at 8:54 pm Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll celebrates with wide receiver Marquise Goodwin after Goodwin scored on a 20-yard touchdown reception against the Chargers, Sunday in Inglewood, Calif. (Jennifer Buchanan / The Seattle Times)Less  By Matt Calkins  Seattle Times columnist INGLEWOOD, Calif. — The synopsis of Seattle’s Sunday comes down to two letters. The first is an “I” and the second is an “F.”  Playing their most successful opponent on the schedule to date, the Seahawks marched into SoFi Stadium and manhandled the Chargers 37-23 in an all-phases-of-the-game victory that will leave fans gleeful about a first-place team that suddenly looks like a legitimate postseason threat … IF DK Metcalf is OK.  That’s the asterisk accompanying this achievement. That’s the hair in this bowl of caviar.  It’s almost impossible for an objective observer to walk away from the Seahawks’ latest win unimpressed. Any knocks that Seattle (4-3) hadn’t beaten — or let alone faced — a foe with a winning record disappeared. Doubts about the defense waned as well. Same with questions about the Seahawks’ running game or receiver depth or the Tinseltown-worthy tale that is quarterback Geno Smith.  RELATED SEAHAWKS 37, CHARGERS 23 Seahawks move into first place in NFC West with win over Chargers Seahawks’ DK Metcalf’s X-rays reveal no damage, WR will do additional testing Reporter Bob Condotta grades the Seahawks’ Week 7 win over Chargers Three things we learned from the Seahawks’ 37-23 win over the Chargers Finding a weakness in the squad that now sits alone at the top of the NFC West would have taken effort Sunday — and the outlook for this season stands in stark contrast to what most pundits (and sports books) predicted when Russell Wilson was traded away last March. Good, maybe great times ahead for the Seahawks … if their $72 million receiver can keep playing.  Late in the first quarter, Metcalf just missed reeling in a lob from Smith on the Chargers’ 1-yard line. A couple minutes later, he was carted off the field and ruled out for the game with a knee injury. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said afterward that nothing came up on the X-rays — but that further evaluation was still needed. In other words, given that X-rays don’t necessarily tell the story when it comes to ligament damage, it’s unclear whether Metcalf will be back anytime soon.   That’s a monumental unknown hanging above the Seahawks after this monumental win. In fact, it’s the only real question mark attached to this otherwise exclamation point of a performance. Did you see what they did? The Seahawks rushed out to a 17-0 lead against a Chargers team (4-3) that, heading into the game, was tied with the Chiefs atop the AFC West. And after surrendering two unanswered touchdowns, they went on a 20-2 run that put them up by 21 points with less than four minutes to go.  Smith went 20 of 27 for 210 yards and two touchdowns (both to receiver Marquise Goodwin) while posting a passer rating of 105.5 — further legitimizing himself as one of the better quarterbacks in the NFL. Running back Kenneth Walker III rushed for 168 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries — the second score coming on a 74-yard scamper to make it 37-16 midway through the fourth quarter. And Seattle’s defense — abysmal through its first five games — shined for the second straight week, forcing two turnovers and keeping the Chargers to 53 yards rushing while limiting them to five third-down conversions on 15 attempts.  “It just starts with stopping the run. We couldn’t stop the run the first couple weeks consistently. I think we’ve been doing that the last two weeks,” Seahawks linebacker Jordyn Brooks said. “When you stop the run and get them behind the sticks and give them third-and-longs — you just sit back on the sticks and let the D-line go rush.”  If you perused gambling sites before the season began, you’d know that most had all but two teams (the Jets and Falcons) winning fewer games than Seattle. And it would have been easy to dismiss the three victories before Sunday as underwhelming outcomes against teams that had a combined record of 5-12. But now, with the 49ers losing to Kansas City and the Rams having a bye, Seattle is in sole possession of first place in its division. “Who’da thunk it?” said Carroll in regards to being atop the NFC West seven weeks in.  Seahawks safety Ryan Neal, who had an interception and a key tackle on fourth-and-one vs. the Chargers, put it a bit more bluntly.  “It feels really good, because let’s just be honest — ain’t nobody think Sign up for Fan Fix Your dose of local sports news. Delivered Monday through Friday. Sign up He’s not wrong. And what’s been particularly notable is how the Seahawks have responded to injuries. Safety Jamal Adams, their highest-paid defensive player, was ruled out for the season after their first game. Running back Rashaad Penny, who led the NFL with 6.3 yards per carry last year, and who had 6.1 yards per carry this season, was declared out for the season after Week 5. But Seattle’s “D” (recently, at least) and the rookie Walker have stepped up. Will someone else have to in Metcalf’s place? Sunday produced the Seahawks’ biggest team win of the year. They’re praying it didn’t also produce their biggest individual loss. Lots to be hopeful about right now. Lots to be worried about, too. Matt Calkins:; on Twitter: @matt_calkins. Matt Calkins joined The Seattle Times in August 2015 as a sports columnist after three years at the San Diego Union Tribune. Never afraid to take a stand or go off the beaten path, Matt enjoys writing about the human condition every bit as much as walk-offs or buzzer-beaters. His mom reads the comments so take it easy on him.
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