Seahawks beat Lions: What’s sticking with us the morning after

Sep 18, 2023, 9:50 AM | Updated: 11:57 am

Seattle Seahawks Pete Carroll...

Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll reacts after a win over the Detroit Lions on Sept. 17, 2023. (Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)

(Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)

You don’t get extra credit for doing your job — and as a professional sports team, your job is to win — but give the Seattle Seahawks a bit of credit anyway.

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Seattle had a week to shift momentum after an ugly loss to the Rams. A season that opened with playoff expectations was suddenly crowded by doubt, criticism, and anger. The Seahawks badly needed a win, but would need to do it without both starting offensive tackles, and in front of a hostile Detroit crowd that was buzzing with anticipation and hype the city hadn’t seen in decades. Thousands of fans had purchased blue ski masks, spurred by Lions defensive back C.J. Gardner-Johnson, for a raucous home opener.

And here were the Seahawks, hoping that if this game became a shootout like it had less than a year ago, an offense that put up just 12 measly yards in their second half against Los Angeles would be up to the task.

It did. And they were. Missing tackles or not.

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll told reporters afterward that he was so elated that he hugged both Jake Curhan and Stone Forsythe, who started at the tackle spots, after the game.

“They were the first guys I wanted to see,” he said.

Here’s what’s sticking with us the morning after:

Geno makes his case for the game ball

Week 1 of 2022 was a pleasant surprise for the Seahawks with a 17-16 win over the heavily favored Denver Broncos in primetime. Chants of “Geno” filled Lumen Field, and within weeks, national voices who’d been critical of Seattle’s quarterbacking issued affable retractions.

Week 1 this season was less fun. Rather than excited cheers, Geno Smith and the offense were faced with more worrisome questions: Were Smith’s second-half woes back? Was his Pro Bowl season a one-year aberration?

If the question was, “Can Geno help this team win when they need it most,” the answer, at least Sunday, was yes.

Smith’s 328 passing yards were the third-most among all Week 2 performers, and the only one of the top three to come with a win. He completed 78% of his pass attempts and threw a pair of touchdowns, both to wide receiver Tyler Lockett (himself making a case for the game ball). His brightest moment was on the first and only drive of overtime, where he threw a 16-yard dart to DK Metcalf to convert a pivotal third-and-6 and marched the offense down the field for the game-winning touchdown.

It was a solid, if also imperfect, performance. The low point? A 17-yard sack with just under two minutes remaining, which he took deep in Lions’ territory. Detroit took over at midfield and kicked a game-tying field goal to force overtime.

“I knew they didn’t have to burn a timeout, but what I didn’t want to do was throw it away too early and maybe they have time to get a play off before the 2-minute warning and use it as an extra timeout,” Smith explained afterward. “So it was an interesting situation, obviously. Looking back on it, you don’t want to lose those yards. Maybe if I get in that situation again I’ll just throw it away and live with the results.”

Oh, there are the Seattle Seahawks’ tight ends

One of the more under-the-radar weaknesses of Seattle’s offenses in years’ past has been its use — or lack thereof — of tight ends. Consistent production from their top two receivers — whether it was Doug Baldwin and Lockett, or Lockett and Metcalf — has kept that from being costly, while Russell Wilson’s preference for the deep ball rather than over-the-middle intermediate passes explained the rest. But Smith’s ability to spread the ball around to multiple pass catchers was a welcome sight in 2023.

The assumption that tight ends would be more involved also came with the arrival of offensive coordinator Shane Waldron, who was Rams tight ends coach prior to being a pass game coordinator under LA coach Sean McVay.

The Seahawks hoped to make the most of another year with former Broncos first-round pick Noah Fant. Meanwhile, fourth-year pro Colby Parkinson, one of the offense’s biggest targets, had a productive training camp. But tight ends — even fan favorite and reliable target Will Dissly — remained mostly absent in Week 1.

That changed in Week 2. Four of Seattle’s five longest plays of the day were passes to tight ends. Three of those were on touchdown drives (including two on Seattle’s overtime drive), while a fourth was on a drive that ended with a missed field goal attempt.

“They complete our offense,” Smith said of the tight ends postgame. “They’re pass catchers, they can block in the pass and run game, and they make it hard on defenses. You don’t know what we’re gonna do. We can line up with all three tight ends and we can run the the ball or pass it. For those guys to continue to be the driving force of this offense, we need those guys. I just enjoy having them out there because they’re so dynamic.”

Improvement on third down, but D questions linger

A week after converting just 2 of 9 attempts on third down, the Seahawks were 5 for 11 (45%) there against the Lions. Considering that 50% is usually good for the league lead by year’s end, that’s a big step forward.

Less so was third down conversions and total yards allowed on defense. Seattle’s defense allowed the Lions offense to convert over half (6 of 11) of their third down attempts and 100% (2 of 2) of trips inside the red zone. Technically, that’s an improvement from the 65% conversation rate allowed in Week 1, but the defense remains a question with concerning play lingering heading into Week 3.

The difference this week? A handful of big plays. Allow over 400 net yards and 30-plus points and you’d better make sure you get a takeaway or force a stop, and Seattle did both. Tre Brown registered the first sack of the season for Seattle’s defense on a corner blitz, and he ended Lions QB Jared Goff’s interception-less streak on the following play with a 40-yard pick-6. On Detroit’s first drive of the second half, outside linebacker Uchenna Nwosu forced a fumble that was recovered by defensive tackle Jarran Reed. Seattle scored two plays later.

Seattle’s two sacks were two more than it had against the Rams, but this is a second consecutive game with an absent or inconsistent pass rush, and the second week with 400 or more net yards and at least 5.5 yards per play allowed.

More on the Seattle Seahawks

With Seahawks’ top OTs out, Geno and O-line nearly perfect in win over Lions
How Seattle Seahawks CBs Witherspoon, Tre Brown did in Week 2 win
Seattle Seahawks banged up in first half against Lions

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