Three Things from the Seahawks’ win over Pittsburgh
The Seahawks are coming off their most important victory of the season and preparing for another one of these games that we’ll call the most important one they’ve played.
But before we look ahead to Sunday’s game in Minnesota, let’s take stock of what we found out against the Steelers and what we still need to figure out.
Three things we learned:
1. If Russell Wilson hit a ceiling, he broke right through it.
Wasn’t there some idiot two weeks ago who was asking if Wilson had hit his ceiling? Oh wait. That was me. Well, you can forget that noise after he threw for eight touchdowns in two weeks without being picked off. What has become clear is that doubts bring out the best in Wilson. It was true in college when North Carolina State turned the page on him and he went to Wisconsin and very nearly won the Heisman Trophy. It was true Wilson’s rookie season, too, when he emerged in the final month of the as the engine in Seattle’s offense. It was true the past two weeks after the entire offense appeared to be circling the drain in that loss to Arizona.
2. Seattle’s secondary is the primary concern for the rest of the season.
Ben Roethlisberger passed for 456 yards on Sunday, most ever for a Seahawks opponent, but that’s not an outlier this season. Arizona’s Carson Palmer threw for more than 300 yards two weeks ago. So did Cincinnati’s Andy Dalton back in Week 5. From 2012 through 2014, Seattle allowed a total of four 300-yard passers in the span of 48 regular-season games. There have been three this year in the span of 11 games, which shows that the flaws in Seattle’s defense go beyond the play of one cornerback. The good news: The Seahawks aren’t going to play a Pro Bowl quarterback until facing Palmer in the regular-season finale. The bad news: That pass defense might be the flaw that undermines any postseason run the Seahawks put themselves in position to make.
3. Seattle is not as fast as it has been at cornerback.
Part of that is personnel. DeShawn Shead is someone who has played safety and nickelback but doesn’t have the top-end speed that Seattle likes for an outside cornerback. Part of that is injury. Jeremy Lane is someone who has started on the outside before and is supremely quick, but he played for the first time this season and was thrown into the fire. The number of times that Steelers receivers ran by Seattle’s cornerbacks was jarring, though, and while the Seahawks won’t play a team with as many big-play receivers as the Steelers possess again this season, it’s worth watching to see if Lane’s speed picks up as he returns to action.
Three things we’re still trying to figure out:
1. How much of the Seahawks’ offensive outburst can they carry forward?
It’s tempting to look at Sunday’s game as a turning point for the Seahawks’ offense. After all, it was the first time Seattle won a game in which the opponent scored 25 or more points since Wilson became the team’s quarterback. But take a closer look. Seattle’s scoring outburst came because the Seahawks converted five third-down plays in which they needed 10 yards or more. That’s truly exceptional. In fact, it’s too exceptional to expect Seattle to continue to convert in those situations. So as impressive as the 39 points were, that might not be something the Seahawks replicate with any sort of regularity.
2. How much will Jimmy Graham’s injury hurt Seattle’s offense?
A team doesn’t get better when it loses one of its best players, and there’s no doubt Graham is among the most talented playmakers not just on Seattle’s roster but in the league. But while Graham was tied for the team lead in receptions when he went down with a knee injury on Sunday, he hadn’t had the impact that was expected on third downs or on scoring. He hadn’t caught a touchdown pass since the first month of the season.
3. What the heck is happening on point-after attempts?
The Seahawks went two full seasons without missing a single one of them, and through the first nine games this year Steven Hauschka was automatic even at the new placement. Now, suddenly, a team that hadn’t missed a point-after try for 43 consecutive regular-season games has botched three in the span of eight days. Given the fact that Seattle has failed to convert its last four two-point attempts in spectacularly poor fashion, it’s especially concerning going forward. Hauschka has been the most consistent kicker in franchise history, but this is concerning.