The Seahawks turned a scoreless first quarter into a second and fourth quarter scoring extravaganza, revitalizing the run game and nearly shutting out the Detroit Lions as they rumbled to a 26-6 win on Saturday night.
Thomas Rawls rushed for 161 yards on 27 carries (5.96 ypc). The offensive line- a constant source of frustration, threw key blocks, and fullback Marcel Reece blew the doors off of Detroits’ defensive linemen while the Rawls train kept churning up yards. Rawls added a rushing score on the ground, and even when Alex Collins carried in relief of Rawls, the Seahawks ate the clock up. Rawls’ longest carry came on a 32 yard run that looked like he could find the end zone. He appeared rejuvenated, coming off of multiple games with less than 50 rushing yards/game.
Russell Wilson looked energized, his first game ditching his knee brace (even if he ended up with negative yards rushing). He fluidly moved in and out the pocket, finding Doug Baldwin for 11 times on 12 targets for 104 yards and a touchdown. One of those targets was an unbelievable sight, with Baldwin pinning the ball to his butt cheek as he went to the ground. It was called an incomplete pass, but Baldwin pleaded with Pete Carroll, who challenged the call and got it overturned. The touchdown was a byproduct of two Lions defenders getting beat simultaneously by Jermaine Kearse and Baldwins double moves. Wilsons intended receiver was Kearse, but Baldwin and him arrived in the same spot, with Baldwin reaching out and tipping the ball to himself. Jimmy Graham caught 3 of his 4 targets for 37 yards. Grahams’ numbers may seem low (target wise), but he averaged 12.3 yards per reception.
The darling of the night though, was Paul Richardson. Richardson caught his second touchdown of the season, (his first coming at home versus Arizona two weeks ago). He caught 3 of his 4 targets for 48 yards and a touchdown. The touchdown was a thing of pure beauty, a leaping left handed catch (on 4th down from the two yard line!) that was marred instantly by his placement of his right hand, which got caught in a Lions cornerbacks face mask, as the cornerback was trying to push him sideways. The refs initially called pass interference on the Lions, when it appeared it should have likely been offsetting penalties and a replay of downs. He also made another spectacular catch near the sideline with (you guessed it!) one hand. He seems to be filling in seamlessly for Tyler Lockett.
Even if you take the Richardson touchdown away, the ‘Hawks would still have won this game handily. Detroit never got closer than the Seattle 35 yard line, and only crossed midfield twice to kick two field goals. Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett teed off on Matt Stafford for three sacks total. DeShawn Shead defensed 3 passes (Bennett had one as well), but smothered receivers that he was assigned all game long. Most of Detroits receivers struggled to get momentum, as quick passing drives backed the only option available after Zach Zenners 11 rushes for 34 yards didn’t give them much spark (he did catch all six of his targets in the passing game for 59 yards receiving). Seattle destroyed a Detroit 4th down attempt for a loss, giving them prime field location.
Ziggy Ansah and Haloti Ngata combined for three sacks, but the Detroit defense only recorded one pass defensed of Russell Wilson, further cementing what we already knew: Wilson was on fire in regards to passing.
Steven Hauschka kicked two field goals, and missed just one of his three PAT kicks. Newly signed long snapper Tyler Ott seemed to fit in just fine in his first game as a Seahawk, as did veteran kick and punt returner Devin Hester. That will be essential going forward, as now the ‘Hawks go on the road to face a well rested Atlanta Falcons team fresh off of a bye week for the divisional round of the playoffs.
Seattle returns to Atlanta for divisional round, the first time since 2012 when a furious Russell Wilson comeback (to take the lead in the fourth quarter after the ‘Hawks were down big) saw Atlanta march down the field and kick a field goal to win the game. This game comes after the hotly contested Seattle victory at home in Week 6, where we first witnessed Richard Sherman’s outburst on the sidelines after blown coverages allowed the Falcons to score 21 points in the third quarter. Atlanta tried to get in position to deliver the fatal Field Goal, but the pass fell incomplete to Julio Jones as he got tangled up in Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman.
Atlanta’s fan base felt they were robbed of a pass interference call, when there was a missed illegal hands to the face committed by Jones on Sherman. One thing is for sure-Atlanta has whipped most of the teams they have faced handily by running up the score early due to a dual rushing attack by Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman. Their receiving corps has benefitted greatly from their offseason additions, and there is the potential that this is a shootout game, similar to the Pittsburgh Steelers matchup of last season. Seattle finds themselves without Earl Thomas this time, but was missing Kam Chancellor then. Both Michael Bennett and Thomas Rawls were both injured in that game, and Seattle still put up a worthy fight.
After the game, head coach Pete Carroll said that: “Boy that one really felt good. That was the game that we’ve been looking for, style wise, fit wise.” He also added, when asked if Doug Baldwin was the best receiver he’s had that: “He’s the quickest that I’ve ever coached. I’ve never seen anybody that can change direction so quickly, and abruptly control his body, at the line of scrimmage, or down the field.” With back to back 1,000 yard seasons, the praise just seems to write itself. Seattle will need another big game out of him, Graham, Kearse, and Richardson if the new found run game cannot find footing against Atlanta S 29th ranked run defense. The game is on FOX, Saturday at 4:35pm.
– GO ‘HAWKS!