By Brady Henderson
The only points the Seahawks allowed during their 28-7 win over the Jets on Sunday came via a Russell Wilson fumble that was returned for a score.
It was the third game this season in which Seattle didn’t allow an offensive touchdown. The other two came in consecutive weeks in late September and early October. That was before some defensive issues hurt the Seahawks in losses to San Francisco and Detroit and wins over New England and Minnesota.
Coach Pete Carroll was asked whether Sunday’s performance against the Jets was a sign that Seattle’s defense is returning to its early-season form.
“The numbers sure show that,” Carroll said.
With that, let’s take a look at the three areas in which the Seahawks defense had struggled at one point or another over the last month.
Mark Sanchez threw an interception and completed just 9 of 22 attempts for 124 yards and no touchdowns on Sunday. (AP)
Against the pass. This has improved considerably since the Seahawks allowed opposing quarterbacks to top 350 passing yards twice in a three-week span. They’ve allowed a combined 195 yards through the air in wins over the Vikings and Jets.
The caliber of quarterbacks they’ve faced – and the weapons around those quarterbacks – have played a role, for sure. Tom Brady (388 yards against Seattle) and Matthew Stafford (352) both topped 5,000 yards passing last season. Christian Ponder (63) and Mark Sanchez (124) are nowhere near that level.
Sanchez was just 9 of 22 and threw an interception on Sunday. Tim Tebow added 8 yards passing, completing all three of his attempts.
“Our coverage was really aggressive yesterday,” Carroll told “Brock and Salk” on Monday. “There was a bunch of times where guys were in the throwing lanes, we knocked some balls down again and had some more chances for picks. It was a very, very strong day for our guys.”
Against the run. The Seahawks’ previously-stout run defense had its issues twice in three weeks, allowing 174 yards to the 49ers and then 243 yards the Vikings. Minnesota might have added to that total had Adrian Peterson carried the ball more than five times in the second half.
The Jets ran for 84 yards Sunday, the same total as the Lions in Week 8. An average of 84 yards per game would rank third-best in the NFL in rushing defense. The Seahawks have alternated poor and strong performances against the run over the last four games, making it difficult to gauge where they’re heading in that department.
Third down. Allowing the Lions to covert 12 of 16 chances on third down doomed the Seahawks in Week 8. That had not been a problem up to that point and it hasn’t been one since. The Vikings (3 of 10) and Jets (2 of 11) went a combined 5 of 21 on third down the last two weeks.
“That’s a big change for us,” Carroll said.
Additionally, the Seahawks have also forced more turnovers over the last two games. After totaling four takeaways in Weeks 6 through 8, Seattle combined for five against the Vikings and Jets. Their three takeaways Sunday came via a Richard Sherman interception, a Sherman strip-sack and Kam Chancellor’s recovery of a muffed punt.