O’Neil: Seahawks’ old way of winning returns in big victory over Cards
By Seahawks standards, it was an exceptionally straightforward game.
No back-breaking turnovers or last-second heroics required. Just a hefty dose of the run game, an error-free game from quarterback Russell Wilson and a decidedly adequate performance from the defense.
Seattle’s 28-21 victory over Arizona was almost boring. Almost. Just a little bit of suspense at the end with the Arizona Cardinals reaching the Seattle 28 with less than a minute left, a touchdown and point-after attempt away from tying the game until three straight incompletions set the stage for Carlos Dunlap’s fourth-down sack to cinch a game between two of the three teams tied atop the NFC West.
This was a turn-back-the-clock performance. Or, if you’d prefer something particularly ornate, perhaps something suited for Olde English as the Seahawks revisited the form which they relied upon in the days of yore. A playing style steeped with punishing runs, seasoned by efficient passes and requiring adequate defensive effort every now and again.
Yes. The defense was thoroughly acceptable this game. Maybe even good as Seattle held the Arizona Cardinals to a season-low in both points and yardage. The Seahawks didn’t give up a first down on either of Arizona’s first two possessions, and after failing to so much as to knock Kyler Murray down in the first meeting between these teams, Seattle finished with three sacks and had seven quarterback hits.
The Cardinals entered the game leading the league in rushing at 168.9 yards. The Cardinals finished with 57 yards on the ground.
It was an improvement, but it was a long way from perfect. Running back Chase Edmonds was all alone, open in the end zone for his touchdown early in the fourth quarter, which cut Seattle’s lead to two points. And when Arizona got the ball at its own 21 with 2:19 left, trailing by seven points, Seattle’s defense allowed the Cardinals to move the ball 52 yards in seven plays without ever facing so much as a third down.
That’s when the Seahawks dug in their heels when it counted, forcing the three straight incompletions before Dunlap’s sack.
Of course, this is the Seahawks we’re talking about so they did find the weirdest way possible to score 28 points. Seattle scored three touchdowns, but Jason Myers mixed an extra point before making two field goals, and then L.J. Collier forced a sack when he was held by a Cardinals lineman in the fourth quarter, officials ruling the foul occurred in the end zone and awarding a safety to Seattle.
Seattle had committed seven turnovers in its last two losses, four of those coming from passes from Wilson that were intercepted. The Seahawks didn’t turn the ball over in this game. Wilson completed 23 of the 28 passes he threw, but only one of those passes gained more than 20 yards: D.K. Metcalf’s 25-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter.
This was a game where the Seahawks got back to basics. Carlos Hyde ran physically between the tackles, gaining 79 yards, and Wilson scrambled effectively.
But more than anything, the Seahawks survived. They survived without either of their starting cornerbacks in this game. They didn’t have either of their two centers in this game, either, with Ethan Pocic out because of a concussion and Kyle Fuller having suffered a sprained ankle last week. Fuller was in uniform, but rookie Damien Lewis moved from left guard to center for Thursday, which is pretty darn remarkable considering that Lewis had never played center at any level of organized football. There was one botched snap, but the Seahawks recovered it, and they also recovered from losing right tackle Brandon Shell late in the game, replacing him with Cedric Ogbuehi.
Though it all, the Seahawks never trailed. They didn’t need a last-second stop at the goal line like Week 2 when Cam Newton was tackled for a 1-yard loss. They didn’t need a last-second touchdown like they required in their comeback against Minnesota in Week 5.
That’s not to say anything about Thursday was easy, but there wasn’t the last-play drama that we’ve come to expect from this team. On this night, no one in Seattle was complaining about that.