The Morning After: Undefeated Seahawks Setting Records on Both Sides of the Ball, Beat Dallas 38-31
If Britney Spears and Gilligan had a child, it would be the Seattle Seahawks. They consistently make foolish mistakes that somehow turn out well, and then simply smile and declare, “Oops, I did it again.” Only the Seahawks would have a quarterback and offense on pace to be historically great, and find a way to almost cancel that out by having a defense on pace to be historically awful. Who could have thought we would be yearning for the days of Tedric Thompson and Ziggy Ansah? Through it all, the Seahawks have managed to go 3-0 for just the second time in Pete Carroll’s tenure and rank fifth in the NFL in point differential. Buckle up for more hijinks and manic laugh-cries because this season is going to be an adventure like no other.
I have read a few takes that the Seahawks are not going to win a Super Bowl if this defense does not improve. Wrong. The Super Bowl is just another game against a quality opponent in a neutral setting. Seattle has already beaten two quality opponents in a neutral setting with a dumpster fire of a defense. What is very true is the odds of the Seahawks winning a Super Bowl go way up if this defense can be better than the worst of all-time.
That’s not hyperbole. No team has ever allowed more passing yards through three games of a season, and it’s not even close. Seattle has allowed over 150 more passing yards than the next closest team (the 2011 Patriots, who happened to be a Super Bowl team). There is only one team in NFL history to have allowed more yards after three games, and that was the brutally awful Miami Dolphins from last year. The Seahawks have allowed just six fewer yards than that wrecking crew.
It is debatable whether the Seahawks have ever endured worse cornerback play than we have seen thus far. Kelly Jennings is yelling at the TV from his couch. Cary Williams is shaking his fist in disgust. Shaquill Griffin and Tre Flowers would be wise to avoid seeing the Pro Football Focus (PFF) grades today. The company may need to recalibrate their rating system to account for play this poor.
You think I’m being too harsh? Flowers not only had a game-ending interception literally fall into his lap that he could not catch, but managed to lift the ball directly into a receivers hands for a 19-yard gain. That is diabolically bad. Gru is kicking himself for not thinking of that kind of evil genius.
Griffin actually did manage to have a critical interception in the first half, but it will be a long time before I can forget watching him surrender a reception to Cedrick Wilson and then slow to a jog as Wilson accelerated away into the endzone for a 42-yard touchdown. This, after giving up a 52-yard bomb to Gallup on the first play of the drive. Griffin was a 1-man 94-yard touchdown drive for the opposition, and he didn’t even care enough to hustle after his man on the last play.
Thankfully, there were some bright spots on that side of the ball. Rookie defensive end Alton Robinson saw his first action after Bruce Irvin was injured last week, and looked very impressive. It generally takes young pass rushers at least a season or two to make an impact. Robinson made his presence felt throughout the game with two tackles for loss and his first career sack on the Cowboys final drive. This team needs a lot more of what he has to offer.
Bryan Mone continued his surprisingly good play by forcing a safety on Zeke Elliott in the first half and applying pressure other times.
Ugo Amadi was outstanding as the nickel corner. His coverage was fantastic. His tackling was reliable. He looks ready to step up and be a quality starter.
L.J. Collier applied some pressure and set the edge well on the few running plays the Cowboys called.
Jarran Reed had a nice game, including a strip sack that led to a touchdown.
Benson Mayowa caught the fumble and nearly scored on the return. He also had two QB hits and nearly a sack on the games final play.
Ryan Neal came in for the injured Jamal Adams and sealed the win with an interception on that play. You could say it was an easy pick thrown right to him, but need I remind you easy does not mean caught with this group.
Believe it or not, I thought the Seahawks defense was playing quite well in the first half and into the early second. It is crazy to think the Cowboys had as many turnovers in the second half as they did touchdowns. They piled up 319 yards in the second half, most of any team in the NFL, but eight teams scored more in the second half than the Cowboys.
They went fumble, then punt, then 94 yards for a touchdown, 89 yards for a touchdown, 70 yards for a field goal, and finally, 49 yards for an interception. If Flowers catches the easiest interception of the week, you could take away that 70-yard drive and field goal, and the game looks a lot different. It felt a lot worse than that.
Of course, even with all the facepalms on defense, this game would have been far more comfortable had D.K. Metcalf simply held onto the football like it was valuable and ran into the endzone in the first half. His fumble out of the end zone is what you call a losing play.
It is not easy to score in the NFL. When you give away a sure touchdown, it usually comes back to cost you. It very nearly was the difference in this game.
I was certain Metcalf would come back with a vengeance to make up for his gaffe, but he was barely a factor until catching the game-winning touchdown. Yes, that was obviously great, but I expected more fight and resolve from a player of his stature and mindset. The fact is that Metcalf has had a few bad drops and mistakes this season. It is also a fact that he is on pace for nearly 1,600 yards and 16 TDs. That tells you just how good this guy can be.
His diminutive and oft-overlooked partner, Tyler Lockett, had will almost certainly be the quietest three touchdown half in NFL history. I will be surprised if anyone mentions him nationally. The man had three touchdowns in a HALF! He also had 9 catches for 100 yards, and is on pace for 128 catches and 21 TDs.
Lockett saved the Seahawks time and again by finding an opening and making tough catches on some uncharacteristically off-target throws from Russell Wilson.
Even more overlooked than Lockett will likely be Greg Olsen. The aged tight end had a number of big catches. Most notably, he had a big 21-yard catch at the end of the first half to set up Lockett’s third touchdown and a game-saving catch on fourth down of the Seahawks final drive. It is a good sign that Wilson is finding Olsen in big moments. There is more to get from the tight ends than we have seen so far.
That I have waited this long to bring up one Russell Wilson is not by accident. He is the bedrock on which this team is built. It will be those that surround him that determine the ceiling for this season. Wilson has transcended to another plane of existence where few quarterbacks have reached.
He snaps his fingers like Thanos, and half the defenders in the NFL disappear. Poof. He delivers lightning bolts from above like Zeus. He is in the midst of what may be the best season in the history of the sport and the best season of his career. Do not blink. Do not miss his excellence fretting over the frustrating aspects of this team. Cherish what you are witnessing as you may never seen anything like it ever again.
One of the most challenging aspects of being a sports fan, or a human in general, is appreciating what you have in the moment instead of needing time to pass to give it depth and perspective.
I tried telling folks during the Legion of Boom era that we would never see a defense like that again, even while the offense was scuffling and the defense would have some rough games. This is very much like that.
Wilson will probably not throw 5 touchdowns every game the rest of the way. The Seahawks are likely to have more frustration on defense and more table pounding drops on offense. Those are just dramatic tones in the symphony Wilson is conducting. This is Beethoven’s fifth. Mozart’s Requiem. You will tell stories to your children and grandchildren about what is unfolding before your eyes. Cherish it.
Wilson was arguably not his sharpest on this day. He was off-target on a handful of easy throws he usually makes and rifled at least one ball far too hard, making the catch more difficult than necessary. Yet, he finished the afternoon with 315 yards passing and should have had six touchdowns. SIX.
Seattle needed all of his brilliance to beat what was a powerful Cowboys offense, and a sturdier defense than expected. The Dallas pass rush was a handful. Aldon Smith made Duane Brown look old. DeMarcus Lawrence and Antwaun Woods had their moments as well.
It spoke volumes about this offensive line that they played a good chunk of the game without either starter at guard, and did not really miss a beat. Damien Lewis left with a twisted ankle early and did not return. Mike Iupati left with a knee issue and did come back. Jordan Simmons and Jamarco Jones were credible substitutes.
Injuries, unfortunately, did not stop there. Jamal Adams left with a groin injury that likely will at least keep him out a few weeks, and maybe longer depending on the severity. With Marquise Blair already out and Lano Hill unavailable, Neal was forced into emergency duty.
First round pick, Jordyn Brooks left with a knee sprain of unknown severity. If there was any bright spot there, it was that Shaquem Griffin played a nice game with some pass pressure and good coverage. Brooks would be a big loss, though, so fingers crossed.
Chris Carson looked to have a serious knee injury after an absolutely villainous play by Trysten Hill, who held Carson’s leg and kept twisting it after he was clearly down and pinned by another player. There was some hope this morning that it might not be as serious as initially thought.
It is a lot to handle. Adversity is upon us. Seattle has managed to find a path to victory even through these (knee) twists and (ankle) turns thus far. That has opened the door to some young players contributing in ways others may not have expected. It increases the importance that guys like Darrell Taylor and Rashaad Penny are available to the team later this season.
People are going to tell you this is not a Super Bowl team unless this defense improves. I see it differently. The Super Bowl is most often won by the team with the most dominant unit on one side of the ball. There is no group more devastating than the Seahawks offense right now. The ride may be full of jump scares and antacids, but you cannot have elation without fear of devastation. This is the first Seahawks team in many years worthy of your Super Bowl hopes. Savor the journey.