Seahawks Quick Hits: Run game, improved defense gets Seattle back on track
The last time the Seahawks and Cardinals faced off, Seattle lost a heartbreaker in overtime that many felt the team should have won, but the defense ultimately caved and the offense had too many turnovers. That wasn’t the case this time out.
The Seahawks enter a long break at 7-3 after a 28-21 win Thursday night over the Arizona Cardinals in what was one of the team’s most complete efforts this season.
Even with injuries piling up on both sides of the ball, Seattle won the critical NFC West showdown, and its chances of winning the division skyrocketed after the win.
What were some of the biggest takeaways from the contest? Let’s get started
‘Balanced’ offense is just what the doctor ordered
Running backs Chris Carson and Carlos Hyde missed the last three games for the Seahawks and their absences were extremely apparent. With no real threat of a run game, teams were able to hone in on star quarterback Russell Wilson, who had seven combined turnovers in losses to the Bills and Rams with those two out.
The Seahawks didn’t get Carson back for Thursday Night Football, but they did get Hyde, who responded with a big game.
On just 14 carries, Hyde ran for 79 yards and a touchdown. He displayed the tough, physical running style that head coach Pete Carroll loves, and he paved the way for Seattle to run for 165 yards against a depleted Cardinals defensive line, such as a huge finishing blow on cornerback Patrick Peterson right before he punched it in for a short touchdown run.
Additionally, the Seahawks ran the ball 31 times compared to 28 Wilson passing attempts, making it only the second time they’ve ran it more than they’ve passed in a game this year. The only other time was a Week 2 win over the Patriots.
Wilson, even with the recent rough stretch, has been great this year, and the Seahawks have done well with him passing more than ever, but this game showed just how important running the ball is for this offense. Now, with 11 days until they play again, the Seahawks will look to get Carson back in the mix for a Monday Night Football matchup in Philadelphia against the Eagles.
Pass rush shows up, leaves, comes back again
When the Seahawks lost to the Cardinals in Week 7, I wrote that it was the worst pass rush performance of the season. It wasn’t hard to see why.
Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray threw the ball 48 times. He was pressured once and was not sacked or hit the entire game.
That changed this time around in a big way.
First, it was clear the Seahawks had a better shot of disrupting Murray as safety Jamal Adams, who has 5.5 sacks, missed the last matchup and newly-acquired defensive end Carlos Dunlap wasn’t with the team yet. Those two and others helped the Seahawks’ pass rush emerge in the first half.
Dunlap had a sack, a QB hit and three tackles in the first half and L.J. Collier had a sack as well. Overall, the Seahawks had those two sacks and five QB hits. The second half was worse for sure, as the Seahawks didn’t get much pressure overall. But when they did, it was big.
Adams caused Murray to take an intentional grounding penalty, and Collier was held in the end zone on the very next play, giving the Seahawks a safety and the ball back. Later, on Arizona’s final drive, Jarran Reed hit Murray on third down to cause an incompletion, and on the next play, Dunlap got his second sack and clinched the Seahawks’ win.
Was it an earth-shattering performance from the pass rushers? Of course not. But after how badly it went in Week 7, this kind of performance was much needed.
Seattle should have won more decisively
The Seahawks should be 2-0 against the Cardinals. That much is clear based on how Week 7 went with Seattle coughing up the lead late in the fourth quarter. But they also should have won this Week 11 contest more handily.
The final score was 28-21. Jason Myers missed an extra point, so Seattle could have scored 29. Then, DK Metcalf dropped a touchdown and Seattle settled for a field goal. That’s four points off the board. So all in all, Seattle should have had 33.
Then, look at the defense. On the first drive of the second half, safety Quandre Diggs was called for a personal foul on third down, extending the drive from the start. Later, linebacker Bobby Wagner was called for a horse collar tackle. Those two penalties were key in Arizona scoring its second touchdown when it was primed to go three and out.
Later, the Cardinals had a second-and-21 but got 19 yards and would pick up the first down on third down. They then scored a touchdown a few plays later. You could argue the Cardinals might have had 14 or fewer points, and really, they should have.
Defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. has gotten a lot of criticism this season with the way this defense has played, and rightfully so. But on Thursday, his group played, overall, pretty well.
The three sacks and seven QB hits is better than the pass rush has been the last year or two, and the Seahawks have been allowing over 450 yards per game this year. Arizona had 314 total yards on offense.
Additionally, the Cardinals came in as the top rushing team, running for over 160 yards a game. The Seahawks held them to 57 rushing yards.
I wrote this week about things not being as bad as they seem for the Seahawks after they dropped three of four. In addition to the upcoming schedule, Wilson getting better and the fact that there will be seven playoff teams in each conference, I wrote about how the defense was showing flashes to make me think they were improving.
Well, without their two top cornerbacks (Quinton Dunbar and Shaquill Griffin) and going against one of the best offenses in football with an MVP candidate quarterback, arguably the game’s top receiver in DeAndre Hopkins and the best rushing game in the league, the Seahawks stepped up big time on defense, even if the 21 points may not signal that.