Seattle likely to see streak as best scoring defense end
RENTON, Wash. (AP) Barring an unlikely series of circumstances playing out on the final Sunday of the NFL season, the Seattle Seahawks will relinquish their vice grip on the title of being the best scoring defense in the NFL for the first time since 2011.
They're not thrilled about it either.
''It means a lot. We pride ourselves on not putting points on the board and not being scored on,'' Seattle linebacker Bobby Wagner said. ''That shows the consistency of us doing that over the years. We still have one more game and hopefully something crazy happens.''
Going into Week 17, the Seahawks have the No. 2 scoring defense in the league, allowing 269 points for an average of 17.9 per game. New England has allowed 33 fewer points, meaning Seattle would likely have to shut out San Francisco in the regular-season finale and hope for a huge offensive game from Miami against the Patriots to have a chance at a fifth straight scoring title.
Seattle's already set NFL history since the merger by claiming the scoring title in four straight seasons. The Seahawks are the first team of the Super Bowl era to accomplish that feat, and the second in league history to be the best scoring defense in four straight seasons, joining the 1953-57 Cleveland Browns, who led the league for five straight seasons.
But this year has been a noticeable step back for the Seahawks, who only have themselves to blame. The biggest blows have come in the last three weeks, giving up 38 points in a loss at Green Bay, then allowing 20 points in the fourth quarter of a 34-31 loss to Arizona last Saturday. That also left Seattle needing help in the final week to get the No. 2 seed in the NFC and a bye on the first week of the playoffs.
''We're going to hold each other accountable so we can be really good the way we know we can be, because over 30 points, that's insane,'' Seattle linebacker K.J. Wright said. ''That's way too much. It's ridiculous. It makes me sick to my stomach saying that.''
During Seattle's run at the top of the league, the NFL championship 2013 season was the best. The Seahawks allowed 14.4 points per game and had only one team score 24 or more points against them. The numbers have risen to 15.9 points per game in 2014 and 17.3 last season.
In each of the past two seasons, Seattle has allowed six teams to score at least 24, and the Seahawks have just one victory since the start of the 2012 season when allowing 24 or more points.
Of the defensive lapses that have happened this year, none may irritate the Seahawks more than in the fourth quarter of the Week 3 victory over San Francisco, the opponent this week. Seattle led 37-3 with 12:52 left, only to give up a pair of TD runs to Carlos Hyde in the final eight minutes of what became a 37-18 victory.
''We just had some games we didn't finish the right way,'' Wright said. ''Like (San Francisco). We shut them dudes out the whole game and then they get two touchdowns at the end. Little stuff like that.''
Still, Wright said there is an appreciation about the rarity of what Seattle has accomplished.
''It's special man. When we look back 20 years from now and be like we did that that many years in a row, consistency is a beautiful thing,'' he said.
NOTES: Seattle CB Richard Sherman did not hold his normal weekly availability in the team's auditorium, rather speaking briefly to reporters at his locker. Sherman declined to answer whether he faced any discipline last week for his sideline outburst in Week 15 against Los Angeles. ... RB Thomas Rawls (shoulder) practiced and said he believed he would be able to play against the 49ers. Rawls sat out the second half against Arizona due to a bruised shoulder.
For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP-NFL