What we learned from the Seahawks’ win over Washington

Oct 8, 2014, 9:37 AM | Updated: 10:22 am
Russell Wilson is third in passer rating and first in rushing yards among NFL quarterbacks this sea...
Russell Wilson is third in passer rating and first in rushing yards among NFL quarterbacks this season. (AP)
(AP)

The Seahawks had three touchdowns nullified by penalties, they didn’t force a turnover and they still won on the road. By double digits.

That doesn’t mean they were perfect, but they were pretty impressive in spite of the self-inflicted wounds caused by their 13 penalties. Here’s our weekly summary of what we learned and what remains uncertain about the Seahawks.

Three things we learned:

1. Russell Wilson is the MVP of the league so far.

That doesn’t mean much given the Seahawks have only played four games, but after outdueling Peyton Manning in Week 3, Wilson put on a show for the entire country to see against Washington. He ranks No. 3 in passer rating and has the most rushing yards of any quarterback in the league. In fact, he has been good enough that the grading scale for quarterbacks is about to be recalibrated with yardage becoming a significantly less meaningful gauge. Take Washington safety Ryan Clark’s word for it: “We got beat by, as far as I’m concerned this weekend, the best player in the NFL,” Clark told The Washington Post. “Russell Wilson made every play he had to make for his team to win.”

2. Seattle’s penalty problem isn’t in the past.

Seattle was called for 13 penalties Monday, its most in any game since the season opener in 2012. Those 13 penalties totaled 90 yards, but even that didn’t give the true cost of the infractions. Seattle gained 129 yards on plays that were nullified by penalties not to mention the three touchdowns. When you look at that you see just how close the Seahawks were to blowing open Monday night’s game. “It could have been a very big night for us,” coach Pete Carroll said. “We were poised to have a big night in the toughness and the aggressiveness and the speed and all of that. We came out flying, but we were just a little bit out of whack.”

3. The Seahawks aren’t impregnable on the back end.

It gets easy to think that way. The Seahawks allowed only five completions of 20 yards or more in the month of September, fewest of any team. They were the best in the league in that category a year ago, too, but on Monday night DeSean Jackson twice got behind Seattle’s defense. First, he blew by Kam Chancellor on a 60-yard touchdown, and then in Washington’s first series of the second half, Jackson caught a perfectly placed pass from Kirk Cousins for a 57-yard gain. Jackson accounted for 157 of Washington’s 307 yards in a game that showed that as good as Seattle’s secondary is, it can be had.

Three things we’re still trying to figure out:

1. How in the world was that game so close?

The Seahawks outrushed Washington 225 yards to 32. That means Seattle absolutely controlled the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. Yet Seattle was one third-down conversion away from having to punt the ball back to Washington with less than 3 minutes to go, which would have given the Epithets a chance to tie the score in the fourth quarter. Instead, Wilson converted it with perhaps his best play of the night. Still, the only reason Washington was in the game was all the penalties against Seattle and those two long passes to Jackson.

2. What level is Russell Okung playing at right now?

He was a Pro Bowler in 2012, someone that offensive-line coach Tom Cable said was the best left tackle in football that season. Last year, he missed eight games with a toe injury and came back and gritted his way through the end of the season. How’s he looking this year? On Monday in Washington, he was called for holding twice and flagged for a false start. That’s not necessarily a red flag, but it will increase the scrutiny on his fifth season with the team.

3. When will we stop wondering about Christine Michael making an impact?

He has yet to dress for a game this season, inactive the first two weeks because of a hamstring injury. He has been a healthy scratch the past two games, and in Washington, the Seahawks had two tight ends and three running backs on the active roster. It’s too soon to pass any final judgment on Michael’s contributions since he’s not even halfway through his rookie contract, but at this point the debate of whether this will be the week Michael really makes an impact should be shelved until he does something like actually plays in a game this year.

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What we learned from the Seahawks’ win over Washington