By Danny O’Neil
Three things we learned:
1. Seattle’s expertise in drafting and developing cornerbacks is unmatched in the NFL.
Brandon Browner’s injury and Walter Thurmond’s four-game suspension have left Seattle playing the fourth and fifth cornerbacks from its depth chart, and Byron Maxwell and Jeremy Lane have played better than average NFL starters. Maxwell has picked off three passes in the past two games while Lane has played both fast and physical in the team’s nickel defense. Over the past four years, the Seahawks have completely overhauled their cornerbacks, going from one of the smallest groups in the league to one of the tallest. They have yet to use anything higher than a fourth-round pick and have still managed to assemble the deepest group of cornerbacks in the NFL.
2. Russell Wilson is the ultimate wild card.
His escapability is a trump card for this offense, one that can override a play in which the defense does everything right and should by all rights stop the offense cold. The best example came in the first quarter when Wilson evaded two different Giants players who had penetrated the pocket, then lofted a ball to Marshawn Lynch near the sideline, resulting in a 22-yard gain. It is the ultimate example of why it is so very hard to defend him. If there was a video-game character capable of those Houdini-esque escapes and back-breaking completions, you wouldn’t let your friend use his team when you played. It just wouldn’t be fair.
3. The Seahawks’ biggest opponent: themselves.
That’s more a commentary on the penalties, which continue to plague this team. A pair of 5-yard penalties nullified plays that resulted in Seahawks scores as Golden Tate was pushed out of bounds, negating what would have been his touchdown catch in the second quarter while a formation penalty in the third quarter negated Lynch’s fourth-down touchdown run. The Seahawks have been called for 112 penalties this season, most in the league. It’s the fourth successive season Seattle has been called for more than 100 penalties.
Three things we’re still trying to figure out:
1. Is there any reason to worry about Seattle’s rushing offense?
Lynch has gone four games without surpassing 100 yards rushing for the first time in two years. Not only that, he has averaged fewer than 3 yards per carry in two of the previous four games. Anyone who watches Lynch run knows that is not for lack of effort. Seattle’s defense has played well enough that the Seahawks have been able to stick with the run on offense despite not overwhelmingly productive results, but given the importance coach Pete Carroll places on running the ball, he would certainly love to see more yardage.
2. Why do quarterbacks continue to test Richard Sherman down the sidelines?
More coverage of the Seahawks’ Week-15 win over the Giants at MetLife Stadium.
|• Recap | Stats | Photo gallery | Postgame interviews||• O’Neil: Big win inspires Super Bowl dreams||• Chalk Talk: Huard breaks down Lynch’s TD run||• Henderson: Wilson sets NFL record with 23rd win||• Henderson: Cornerbacks Maxwell, Lane emerging||• The Pete Carroll Show: ‘They didn’t have a chance’|
I know it’s tempting, looking out and seeing Seattle with a single-high safety and deciding to test the secondary at the margins in a one-on-one matchup against a cornerback. But, seriously, you might as well punt. San Francisco’s Colin Kaepernick found that out Week 2 when he looked to get the ball to tight end Vernon Davis only to have Sherman intercept it. The Giants’ Eli Manning experienced something very similar while throwing down the sideline for receiver Hakeem Nicks in the second quarter Sunday. Sherman picked off two passes and assisted on another, ending a five-game dry spell when it came to interceptions.
3. What inspired Michael Bennett’s sack celebration?
That hands behind-the-head hip-swivel was worthy of a PG-13 rating, and while Bennett called it the West Side Merengue, it was a move straight out of “Ravishing” Rick Rude’s playbook. No doubt about Bennett’s impact this year because in an offseason that included the acquisition of Percy Harvin and signing of Cliff Avril, Bennett has had the biggest impact. He has 7.5 sacks, second-most on the team, and has been disruptive while playing multiple positions along the defensive line.