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Clayton’s Observations: 5 things that worked for Seahawks in Week 3 win

The Seahawks' Earl Thomas and Bradley McDougald have been the NFL's best safety tandem. (AP)

On Sunday, the Seahawks looked like the team the Pete Carroll projected during the offseason.

What We Learned: Seahawks can actually run the ball like they say

Entering the game against Dallad, the situation was dire. The team was down a Pro Bowl receiver (Doug Baldwin), a Pro Bowl linebacker (K.J. Wright) and two starting offensive linemen (center Justin Britt and left guard Ethan Pocic). They were also 0-2 and underdogs at home.

Even though it wasn’t perfect, the Seahawks went on to beat the Cowboys 24-13. Let’s see what worked right.

The Seahawks finally displayed commitment to the run game.

The Seahawks lived up to what they stressed and promoted in the offseason with their running attack. Chris Carson may not have had a great average (3.2 yards per carry) but he had a great game. His 32 carries for 102 yards were needed. The Seahawks had only 38 carries total in their first two games – think about that for a second.

Pro Football Focus gave Carson a positive grade for his runs after contact. He averaged 3.28 yards after contract, and with his 3.2 yards per carry average, that means that most of his runs would have been for no yards, being stopped at the line of scrimmage. As a result, he had the fourth-best grade among running backs in Week 3 by PFF.

Depth along the offensive line.

Russell Wilson and Carroll stressed continuity along the offensive line, but with injuries to Britt and Pocic, the Seahawks had an entirely new interior to the O-line.

J.R. Sweezy played the first game of his career at left guard. Joey Hunt was the center. D.J. Fluker was getting his first start for the Seahawks at right guard.

And it worked. Run blocking was solid and Wilson had good protection.

Britt is expected back this week, and while no one is saying how long Pocic could be out, what’s interesting is that when Pocic comes back you have to wonder if the Seahawks will consider keeping Sweezy at left guard.

What really came out of Sunday’s game is the Seahawks have depth on the O-line. Hunt is a good, solid backup at center, and Sweezy can provide help at multiple spots. Sweezy said he wanted to return to the Seahawks – he likes the environment, the teammates and playing for Carroll – and they were lucky the Tampa Bay Buccaneers cut him and gave him the chance to do so.

Strong play at the safety position.

Earl Thomas made it past Monday without a trade. Who knows where this is all heading, but as long as Thomas plays as well as he has and the team wins, Carroll seems willing to tolerate Thomas’ hold-in in which he doesn’t want to practice if he’s not 100 percent.

Thomas is playing winning football. Pro Football Focus gave him the highest grade among safeties after three weeks of the season. But what has been particularly special is how well he works with Bradley McDougald. They have been the best safety duo in the NFL. Though he probably won’t get that type of considerations, McDougald has been playing at a Pro Bowl level.

Tyler Lockett, top receiver.

Tyler Lockett is living up to his $10.4 million per year contract extension. He leads the team with 12 catches for 196 yards, three touchdowns and a strong 16.3 yards per catch average. Wilson is still trying to get in sync with his new receivers, but Lockett has been his best option while waiting for Baldwin to return.

A defense that always gives the Seahawks a chance.

The defense has put together seven pretty good quarters, and it lived up to expectations in the victory over the Cowboys. Through three games, the Seahawks are giving up just 21.3 points and 292.3 yards per game.

With a top five or six quarterback such as Wilson, the Seahawks can still have a winning season if the defense gives up less than 25 points per game and the running game is decent. Shaquill Griffin continues to grow at cornerback, giving up only 86 receiving yards in three games, while slot corner Justin Coleman has allowed only 34 yards. The pass rush picked up Sunday, too.

There are still a lot of areas to clean up as a team, but in the Cowboys game the Seahawks looked like the team Carroll projected.

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John Clayton on 710 ESPN Seattle
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