The Morning After: Seahawks Stack Up Convincing Road Wins, Stoke Playoff Fire

My mom hates surprises. Family lore includes the tale of my father ignoring all warnings and arranging a surprise birthday party for her at a restaurant. They exited the vehicle, went inside, friends and family yelled, “Surprise!” and my mom walked out. I, on the other hand, love a good surprise. The world gets pretty boring when everything goes as expected. Know-it-alls think they have life figured out, but are actually missing the splendor that comes with the discovery of being wrong.  Ignorance is bliss is ways many do not understand. One of the persistent pleasures of sport is knowing so much about it and still being faced with the humility of being wrong on the regular. This Seahawks win over the Lions was just the latest happy example.

Never in my wildest dreams did I see the Seahawks building a 28-7 lead in Detroit. I certainly did not expect the defense to hold Lions running back Kerryon Johnson to 22 yards on 8 carries for 2.8 yards per rush. Holding Golden Tate to 50 yards receiving on 7 receptions (7.1 yards per catch) and Kenny Golladay to 12 yards on 1 catch was shocking. Sacking Matthew Stafford three times after his offensive line came into the game as one of the best pass blocking crews in the league was eye-opening. Seeing our Aussie punter run farther out of our own end zone (9 yards) than any Lions rusher did on the day (7 yards) broke my brain.

All those surprises combined with more predictable greatness to create bountiful bundles of glee. That was fun, right? It was like if a game could be formed by a Seahawks fans wish list:

– Run the ball down their throats even when they know it’s coming

42 carries for 176 yards. check

– Give Chris Carson the chance to dominate

25 carries for 105 yards and a badass touchdown. check

– Give David Moore the chance to showcase his immense talent

4 catches in 4 targets for a team-leading 97 yards and a touchdown. check

– Keep making Tyler Lockett’s contract look like a steal

Another touchdown gives him 6 on the season, good for third in the NFL. check

– Give us some hope that Ed Dickson can help the shaky tight end position

2 catches. One for 42 yards and the other for a contested touchdown. check

– Pass the ball with deadly efficiency

Russell Wilson becomes the first quarterback in Seahawks history to throw a perfect game (min 10 pass attempts) with a 158.3 rating. check

– Hold a damn good offense with talent at every position under 20 points in their house

This is getting ridiculous, but sure. check

– Create a bunch of turnovers and giveaway none

Three takeaways, including a pivotal one on special teams and no turnovers. check

– Give me some hope that Dion Jordan can help the pass rush

Well, now we are getting obscure, but he definitely looked healthier and more impactful than at any other point this season. check


I seriously could go on. How about intercepting Stafford at the goalline after a super aggravating pass interference penalty? Or K.J. Wright coming back and playing well? Or Frank Clark moving past Cortez Kennedy with 28.5 sacks in his first four seasons, with 9 games left to go? Even Akeem King deserves props after a terrific day covering punts.

Seahawks games are not usually this comfortable. Seattle has had two laughers in a row. This game could have been a blowout had the team scored from the one-inch line on fourth down when Nick Vannett stepped out. By the way, the loss of down part of that rule is weird. Why do you lose a down when stepping out of bounds but not for something like offensive pass interference or holding?

By far the biggest surprise for me in this game was how the defense was able to slow down the Lions offense. This is one of the more talented receiving crews in the league, with a solid quarterback and a good pass-blocking offensive line. I entered this game expecting the Seahawks defense to be exposed. I did not expect the pass rush we saw against the sorry Raiders line to show up. The secondary remained a major question mark in my mind. Put those two things together against this offense, and I was braced for 30+ points from the Lions. They did not reach half that total.

It is worth pointing out that a big part of the formula for slowing the Lions offense was an offense that ran the clock and played keepaway. Seattle finished with a season-best 34 minutes and 55 seconds of possession. The Lions got the ball once in the first quarter. Thanks to Tedric Thompson forcing a fumble on a kickoff, the Lions only got the ball twice in the second quarter. But the defense forced the Lions to punt on both of those possessions.

Meanwhile, the Seahawks offense was dominant. They went 75 yards for a touchdown on their second possession, finishing a series of punishing runs with one of the prettiest throws of Wilson’s career into Lockett’s hands. Then they turned that turnover on the kickoff into another seven by giving Moore another chance to make a play on a contested catch. He tipped the ball up and back and into his hands while the defender fell screaming in agony and shame. Moore was not done. On the next possession, he sent another Lions defender crying to mama with a 27-yard catch so unbelievable that Seahawks fans were angry at Pete Carroll for challenging the call of an incomplete pass.

Moore is my latest mancrush. He may have even pulled slightly ahead of Carson. I said on Real Hawk Talk this week that I think he has the potential to be one of the best receivers in the NFL. Most people thought that was crazy, and most people still do. He can run. He can jump. He can gain separation with both physical and technical skills. He makes great contested catches with strong hands. He runs after the catch. There have been precious few Seahawks receivers who has had the combination of physical gifts Moore has. Sidney Rice comes to mind, but he was not built to take a pounding the way Moore is. Joey Galloway is the best athlete Seattle has had at the position. He was faster than Moore, could jump higher, and even had more strength. Moore is rare.

That does not mean he is destined to be an All-Pro, but he is exactly the type of young talent who could explode with Wilson throwing the ball the way he is right now. Wilson is throwing it far less, but his efficiency is off the charts. He broke the franchise record for yards per attempt yesterday with 14.6 yards per throw. That is insane. He was 6-7 on 3rd down with a touchdown. His only incompletion was a drop by Vannett. He has 3 passing touchdowns in three straight games for the first time since 2015. He also has three straight games of 125+ passer rating for the first time since 2015.

Remember that 2015 stretch of play that we all started wondering whether it would ever happen again? It’s kinda happening, folks.

Now there will be a vocal contingent of Seahawks fans who will try to cool your jets and tamp down your excitement. They will tell you the Seahawks have not beat anyone good. The Lions? Who cares that they trashed the Patriots or beat the Packers? Seattle just did what they were supposed to do. Let me give you a brief field guide to your Seahawks fan safari. Steer clear of those folks. If they approach you, smile and nod and move along. Drop a pin on your map to remember where they are so you can circle back in a couple weeks after the Seahawks beat the Rams in LA.

Crazy talk? I don’t think so. People know they are going to run the ball, and they cannot stop them. People know they have unproven players on defense and still struggle to score on them. Receivers are making plays while coverage is tight. Pass protection is slowing even the best pass rushers. These are characteristics of a football team that plays well wherever they go and against any opponent. Seattle also plays 6 of their final 9 games at home. As of now, they are the sixth seed in the NFC playoffs. They are about to make a lot of teams and prognosticators very uncomfortable. Whether they like surprises or not, humility and humble pie awaits those who have doubted or continue to doubt this team. The Seahawks are back.

Founder, Editor & Lead Writer
  1. Ok, my game experience is now complete after reading your post, Brian! I feel like my faith in Pete’s approach has been fully rewarded as the team has come together.

    In Pete’s book, he talks about “the moment” when a team comes together during a season, and it is something that has to happen every year with every team since there is always turnover.

    My vote for that moment this year was when Earl went down to injury, but I wonder what you think about that, Brian?

    Regardless, I LOVE the look of the team.

  2. I admit I was one of the BIG nay-sayers coming in to this season.

    We looked dreadful in the first two games and should have lost in Arizona. We could have gone in the toilet like they have done in Santa Clara and down in the desert, but Pete got back to his formula where he coaches up young, hungry fast players with chips on their shoulders.

    But that only works on defense.

    You need mean old guys on the offensive line with strong hands and big asses. And a patient running back willing to wait for the hole to open up after the fist fight is won.

    Trying to go young and cheap, and just coach ’em up, on the offensive line probably cost us at least one Super Bowl title and a chance at being a real dynasty.

    The real problem started when they paid Russell the Moon. The envy and the drama in the locker room stemmed directly from that BIG paycheck.

    RW is going to want that again, only MORE.

    That is the existential problem for this team going forward. Are they going to sacrifice those offensive linemen and other role players like 3rd down pass rushers so RW can own a baseball team, cure cancer and pay for his wife’s Rodeo Drive shopping sprees?

    Yes RW was great this weekend, but he is a limited, play action dependent QB, totally in need of a running game so he can hold the ball UNTIL his guys break open.

    He is the ultimate system guy.

    There are QB’s coming out who can do that too for a lot cheaper. If PC/JS are all about team chemistry then they need to start with RW and his next big contract.

    1. Bro, you can’t be more wrong. QB salaries are what they are – all the players in the league accept it – the fact you think you can find someone off the street to do what he does is laughable.

    2. The year before Russ was drafted, the Hawks had the core of the LOB and Marshawn Lynch and still went 7-9. Russ joined the team in 2012 and immediately made the team better and they went 11-5. If Aaron Rodgers and Brees are elite QBs and Russell Wilson is only a system QB, why do the former have the same number of rings as the latter ? Could it be that being an elite / very good QB is a necessary but insufficient condition and that winning championships is a function of the full 53-man roster ?

    3. How many QBs in the league can you name that would NOT get murdered or maimed behind the O-lines that Russ has had to work with in the past few years ? Yet, despite operating behind a turnstile for an O line, Russ threw a league leading 34 TDs in 2017 , despite having zero run game.

  3. Unmet expectations usually lead to disappointment. However, this young Seahawk team was expected to be a major dud……………and they seemingly refuse to meet that expectation. And there’s not likely a disappointed Seahawk fan to be found.

    Coming off a bye you might expect a team to be both fresher and better prepared, but this isn’t a single week fluke for our guys. This is just what those who respect the ideas of team and scheme like to see. After fumbling around the first couple games of the season these boys have begun to jell into a marvelous group of over achievers. They have talent. In the hierarchy of all those athletes who have played the game, those who make any professional team, even the perennial losers, are elite by comparison. But when a group of mostly unknowns (at least on the national stage) who don’t have much for star pedigree, aside from a handful of key leaders, are coached well enough to work together they form a team that can demonstrate that the sum of the whole is indeed better than the individual parts.

    We’ve suffered the past couple years or so with a team that was poor at 3rd down conversions, and was too often impotent in the red zone, but not so much any more. Ain’t it fun? Another bugaboo that has haunted were an abundance of injuries, so the relative few this season are very welcome. Entering what might be the toughest opponent stretch of this season with such health appears very timely. KJ being back even made Wagz look better, probably fewer double teams on him. The secondary is still vulnerable, at least by expectation, but also they have the resilience of youth. Coleman still needs to tackle better, but is almost always in the right place. McD is a beast and the leader of the back end, what a sign. Shaquill might disappoint some, and may be resting (so to speak) on a stairstep toward his ceiling, but he’s not a dud. Flowers is pure over achiever based on where he’s come from experience wise. But you can see his progression each game. T2 will likely remain a punching bag for the strident ETIII fans who won’t get over him, but the man is doing a reasonable job. And the best thing about all of them is they are growing together, better each game. The D line was expected to be trash, and just keeps performing and performing and performing. Not spectacular, but well. Perhaps the opponents share the false beliefs of the national talking heads who have preached disrespect for these guys since pre-season. Last week, when asked if the Seahawks were being overlooked, L. Tomlinson (on Prime Time) sniffed and dismissively and emphatically said “no way, they’re nothing” (paraphrasing). He’s not alone though more expressive. Perhaps that would be a worthwhile clip to play in the Hawks locker room just before next weeks game. He, he, he…….

    While the talking heads might overlook this team awhile longer, I suspect the Vegas odds makers will start giving them a little more love beginning this week. Those boys don’t like taking a beating.

    We’re on a well deserved high right now, but we are heading into the probable toughest string of opponents for this season. If the growth of the Hawks continues we should do well, but the other guys have a plan too. While I can’t allow myself to become overly optimistic, I do hope we enter December with a winning record.

    All in all, doing well for a team that’s “lost it’s way”. When you’re green you grow, when you’re ripe you rot.

    Ball for Paul.

  4. Moore is an ERFA at the end of the season. Do we have club control of him for one more your or two more years? Like, after we sign him to a 1 year ERFA deal does he become a RFA or a UFA the following year?

    1. Still room to improve there, though. Wagner’s penalty on Tate was unnecessary and sustained a Lions’ drive that should have been snuffed out. I am sure he regrets it, but that penalty represents the kind of thing that can still be improved.

      It was nice to NOT see a bunch of false starts on the OL playing in a noisy stadium.

  5. We are officially in a retooling – NOT rebuilding – phase with a ton of cost controlled young talent. Together with the smart veteran pick ups in the off season, the future looks very bright indeed. Can’t say that I wasn’t very worried early on though…

  6. Well, we’ve all learned something about Pete Carroll: His defensive system makes stars, it doesn’t require stars. Clemons? Made him great. Maxwell? Browner? Never had the years elsewhere they had in the LOB. Irvin? Not the same. Not saying those guys, especially Irvin, aren’t great, they are. But there’s a reason Carroll can turn those 5th to 7th round picks into gold. Who was Sherman, Chancellor, Celmons, etc. when he picked them? He picks guys for his system and he also fits his system to his guys. But he doesn’t have to alter his system too much because he is so good at finding guys he can coach up to fit his system.

    Who else could have lost so many Pro Bowlers of that caliber and just reloaded so easily?

    He makes players look great.

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