By Brady Henderson
Two weeks ago, Seattle’s run defense was mired in yet another midseason slump in which the Seahawks allowed at least 200 rushing yards in consecutive games.
That’s looking more like a thing of the past after Seattle followed up a strong performance in Atlanta by containing Adrian Peterson on Sunday.
After missing last week’s game with a concussion, Red Bryant (79) played a leading role in Seattle containing Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson Sunday. “Red played his best game since he’s been here,” coach Pete Carroll said. (AP)
Of all the takeaways from the Seahawks’ 41-20 win over Minnesota, none might be more important than Seattle’s run defense once again looking like a strength as opposed to a liability.
“We’ve really improved,” coach Pete Carroll told 710 ESPN Seattle’s “Brock and Danny” on Monday.
It was during the Monday night win over St. Louis when Seattle’s run defense began to falter, allowing 200 yards to the Rams then 205 a week later to Tampa Bay. The Seahawks won those games despite their run defense being gashed both times for more than twice as many yards as it had previously averaged.
“We got rocked a little bit for a couple weeks,” Carroll said.
It wasn’t just the totals but who had amassed them that was alarming for the Seahawks. St. Louis entered that Week-8 game with the league’s 29th-ranked rushing offense. A week later, Mike James accounted for 158 of Tampa Bay’s rushing yards against Seattle, which was not only the highest total of his rookie season but more than he ever had in a game in college.
The turnaround began the following week when Seattle held Atlanta to 64 yards on the ground, though the fact that the Falcons had the league’s worst rushing offense tempered any talk about the Seahawks’ run defense being back to form.
Sunday’s game provided some validation in that regard. Seattle held Peterson to 65 yards on 21 carries. And while Toby Gerhart added 67 yards to push Minnesota’s rushing total to 132, 55 came late in the fourth quarter, at which point the Seahawks had built a comfortable enough lead to begin pulling some of their defensive starters.
Carroll singled out players from each level of Seattle’s defense for a job well done.
“It was the intensity. It was the desire coming off blocks,” he said. “Tony McDaniel played terrific football. Red (Bryant) played his best game since he’s been here. Both the inside backers played great football. K.J. (Wright) and Bobby (Wagner) were talking and hitting. Kam (Chancellor) had a huge part in that as well.”
While the performance in Atlanta could have been dismissed considering the opponent, there was no caveat to the job Seattle did against Peterson, the league’s reigning MVP, the gold standard at running back and the guy who ran for 182 yards last year against the Seahawks.
“We needed that challenge,” Carroll said. “We need these moments so that you can take a step ahead. We needed the best running back they could offer us, and we went after him in great fashion.”
Follow Brady Henderson on Twitter @BradyHenderson.