Rarely has a road game felt so welcoming for the Seahawks. London did it’s very best to make Wembley Stadium favor the Oakland team technically playing a home game. They handed out Raiders flags to everyone in attendance. They flew in the Raiderettes (that is what they were called, which made me want chocolate-covered raisins). And perhaps, most pitifully, they set off flame cannons at the four corners of the field when the Raiders finally scored a gift field goal late in the fourth quarter. It was the equivalent of somebody being three hours late to their party and the host gleefully setting off a single party popper. The Seahawks had already made the Raiders kiss the ring by that point, and the fanbase was arguably more dominant.

Seeing and hearing the swarm of blue and green was deeply gratifying, having lived though franchise lows in the 90s. This was more than just wealthy Seahawks tech fans traveling to London. Huge chunks of Seahawks fans were from the UK, Germany, and a dozen other countries. Seattle may have benefitted from their franchise peak coming during the age of mobile phones and streaming video. More people around the world fell in love with Russell Wilson and the LOB than could have if it had happened 3-4 years earlier. Whatever the case, it was the closest atmosphere to the Super Bowl victory since that game.

The game had a chance to be a similar score to that 43-8 blowout against the Broncos. Seattle scored a touchdown on their first possession for the first time in 34 games. They took over the football at their own 18-yard line, and then proceeded to run seven straight times to the 49-yard line. Wilson then found Rashaad Penny for a nifty 24-yard screen pass, and later found tight end Tyrone Swoopes for a 23-yard pass on 3rd and 8 (which almost certainly was a missed false start), before eventually hitting Jaron Brown for a touchdown.

It was a physical drive. It was a confident drive. It was Seahawks football. I had a hunch a game like this was coming because the Seahawks stood toe-to-toe with the big, bad, Rams and walked away with the rightful feeling that they should have won. Taking that sort of pounding run style into a game against a far weaker opponent was like punching through wet tissue paper.

 

Seattle ran for 155+ yards for the third straight game. The last time they accomplished that feat was when they did it four straight times in 2013 in weeks two through five.

 

They found themselves against the Cowboys, and have not looked back since. It is largely predictable. We were seeing running plays on 61% of their first downs in the three games prior to facing the Raiders and that number very likely went up. Pete Carroll is not trying to fool anyone, but that is not necessarily the bad thing many Twitter analysts will tell you. Tom Brady is pretty darn predictable as well. What matters most is whether the team is good at what they are doing and seeing success.

When Mike Solari joined the 49ers in 2010, Brady was throwing the Patriots to over 500 points and a 14-2 record while a young quarterback named Aaron Rodgers was winning his first Super Bowl. Over the next three seasons, Solari and the 49ers ran for over 6,700 yards and won 76% of their games. They were the toughest kids on the block. Nobody looked forward to playing them, regardless of the venue. While the reliance on the run game was predictable, Solari helped to create a varied run scheme that made life challenging for defenses.

We are seeing the same thing unfold for Seattle this season. This offensive line is key. Once again, they cleared the path for the running game while also keeping Wilson clean in the pocket. When you combine commitment to the run and play action passing with Wilson, great things follow.

Wilson threw three more touchdown passes in this game, and now has 8 in his last four games against only one interception. His passer rating in those four games is 116.0. Over his last two games, his rating goes up to 128.8 with 6 touchdowns and that one interception. Possibly most exciting has been his play on third down over the last two weeks. An eye-popping 20% of his pass attempts on 3rd down in those games have gone for touchdowns, helping him to a 134.1 rating.

It has helped to have his receiver corps step up. Tyler Lockett caught his fifth touchdown, one off a career high with 10 games to go, ranking second in the NFL in receiving touchdowns among wide receivers. David Moore caught his third touchdown in two games, and made a gorgeous grab of a contested ball along the left sideline. Even Doug Baldwin, with zero healthy knees, was a factor in this game with over 90 yards receiving and multiple deep shots.

Moore has the physical ability to become a true #1 receiver. That does not mean he ever will, but he has that ceiling. Seeing him getting more chances to emerge is a very good thing. He is one of the few players on the roster who could represent a wildcard factor as the season wears on. No team is game planning for Moore right now. There is a chance he will become their top threat.

They will soon add Ed Dickson to the tight end room, which should help, and have the option of bringing back J.D. McKissic as another weapon.

Penny played well, and got the opportunity to help ice the game in the fourth quarter. It was nice to see. If he is going to steal reps from Mike Davis, then so be it. If the coaching staff is going to start limiting Chris Carson’s carries again, we have a problem.

There were two major mistakes that likely cost the Seahawks at least one of their first two games this season. One, they relied far too much on the pass. Two, they did not give Carson RB1 reps. They have corrected both of those, and the results have followed. It would not surprise me if they get seduced by their top pick showing some nice progress and confuse that with a valid reason to limit the play of their best back.

All this talk about offense, though, is overshadowing a fantastic defensive effort. The Raiders defense is horrid, but their offense has put up a lot of yards this season. Seattle sacked Derek Carr 6 times, and two additional sacks were nullified due to penalty. Frank Clark had 2.5 sacks and 2 forced fumbles. He now has 27.5 sacks in his career, which ranks second among Seahawks players in their first four seasons. Cortez Kennedy is a half-sack ahead of him, and Jeff Bryant had 34.0. Clark has another ten games to move up higher on that list.

Branden Jackson, Quinton Jefferson, and Jarran Reed were also part of the rush party. Reed got another sack and now has 4.0 on the season, second only to Geno Atkins among defensive tackles. Jacob Martin was creating pressure off the edge and recovered one of Carr’s fumbles.

Oakland managed just 3.3 yards per play. Marshawn Lynch was bottled up all game.

 

The hope is that Seattle gets K.J. Wright back after the bye week. It is interesting that the best pass rush of the season happened with Dion Jordan and Rasheem Green sitting out due to injury. That will be worth watching.

For the time being, the Seahawks defense looks like it will be capable of being at least middle-of-the-road, and may have a chance to be a top ten unit. That is crazy to think about given how much turnover there has been on that side of the ball.

Seattle has played like a playoff team the past two weeks, and is in the middle of the race. This upcoming game in Detroit could not come at a better time. The Lions will know what is coming.

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5 Responses

  1. Doug

    Thank you, Brian!

    Hard to know exactly what to take away from this game other than to credit to the coaches for having the team prepared to play. There has been *so much* criticism of Carroll that it feels good to see his philosophy on the field getting results.

    Given the turnover on D, particularly, I think Carroll really does deserve the credit for how that unit is performing now.

    Regarding Carson/Penny–Penny did finish with more yards on fewer touches. I like Carson, but the reality is he has not ever been “the guy” for a full season in college or the pros. Penny looked great on the last series. To get yards in the run game when, as Schotty says, the other team knows you are going to run, is a good measure of success. Credit the OL, and credit the RB group. I love this 3-headed monster RB room and I will be happy to see Penny earn more touches as the season rolls on.

    Reply
  2. Uncle Bob

    It’s understandable that most of the focus will be on the opening drive (first scoring opening drive in over two years!), and then the other scoring drives to follow. But I would suggest the final drive, taking over 8 minutes with no scoring, was just as, if not more, important to the story of this game. Not scoring was a graceful intent……enough embarrassment had been served. Eating the clock at will shows just how well prepared the team was, and how well it performed. And team is the operative word. These young guys are learning to play as an effective unit. While the talking heads want to continue to promote the meme they’ve ridden for the past several months that emphasizes those that have left, and supplement it with the old meme about how bad the O-line is, this group of a few vets and a herd of fresh blood are jelling into a pretty fair team. The euphoria from a lop sided victory will get the fan gush going, and revive false hopes of a super bowl outcome for the most optimistic, but in reality this is rounding into a good team, not a great one…………yet. But positive signs abound. The O-line is, at least, very respectable. There are plenty of signs, but one that caught my eye was when a Raider player attempted to start a beef with Ifedi. Big ol’ 65 used to readily fight back……..not now, he just turned his back and walked away while others held the Raider back from drawing a penalty. Solari and Brown are getting Ifedi fixed I think. And Fluker? Stay healthy big guy, you da man! Surprisingly haven’t seen any “gloating” about how ineffectual the Raiders Cable coached O-line was……….c’mon Evan.

    Another theme with the talking heads is the “revenge” factor of fabricated “drama”. Two different pregame shows touted the Beast Mode seeking revenge on his old team b.s. Well, that didn’t work out did it guys? This defense is showing some stoutness in run defense for sure. Last week it held “the world’s greatest running back” to around 70 yards on the ground, and yesterday Lynch was under 50. As an aside, Denver wasn’t able to keep Gurley under 200! Pass rush got a lot better, but there is the Cable factor to consider without trying to diminish the accomplishment. The back end is respectable while not yet dominant, though McD is playing lights out. Coleman better improve his tackling or we’ll be looking for a new slot cb. Happily, when Thorpe went in for Flowers he was tested but not torched.

    Plenty more to enjoy, but that’s enough for me. A bye week with few apparent injuries is a big plus. The guys returning will need to ease in to get into game shape, but the added skills will be welcome. Room will need to be made so who will move aside? The two most notable possibilities might be Marshall and Prosise. Can they possibly get a 7th for Pro? Time will tell……

    Reply
  3. Scott Crowder

    The running game is unimportant group certainly has a lot to reconsider now IMO. This game was encouraging for me for another reason: During the peak of the LOB this team always let down vs inferior teams. Remember trailing (was it winless?) Jax by three scores? They never had that dominating win except for a span of three games late in 2012.
    This team just dominated a team it was supposed to dominate if they are a playoff contender. That was nice to see.
    As Brian touched upon, this team is no longer going to rely upon the pass and Carson is getting RB1 touches.
    Next month is going to be brutal, with the Rams, Chargers, Panthers and Lions in but 22 days. That’s going to be tough and the bye week comes at a really good time. Then we will see if this team is actually a playoff contender or not. Unlike most, I think we’ve been reloading, not rebuilding. I think we are hitting our stride right on time. I think November will continue to belong to the Seahawks.

    Reply
  4. Scott Crowder

    Oh, and while I’m thinking about it: last year we missed the playoffs thanks to Blair Walsh. We missed what would have been the 6th straight year in the playoffs with Wilson playing behind the kind of oline we saw Oakland dealing with on Sunday. Now that Oakland is dealing with the Cable oline, they are a wreck of a team. How much of our success to we owe Russell Wilson and how good is he going to be this season behind this oline if it continues to block as well as it has the past few weeks?

    Reply
  5. Uncle Bob

    We fans, and the guys on this team owe “the man” for so much. Ball for Paul!

    Reply

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