The Seattle Seahawks (2-2, Preseason, 3-4 Regular Season) went on road last Thursday night against Division rivals the San Francisco 49ers (2-2 Preseason, 2-5 Regular Season), with Seattle bettering their W/L record against the 49ers underneath Pete Carroll to 5-2 all time.
Bobby Wagner, back after sitting out a tough home loss versus the Carolina Panthers due to a torn pectoral muscle, returned with a head of steam, getting five solo tackles on the evening. Richard Sherman stayed blanketed on SF’s Deep threat stud, Torrey Smith, to 0 yards on the evening. With the secondary playing above their average play in this game, the defensive line had all day to dial up the pressure on Colin Kaepernick. Dial the pressure they did. Seattle’s defense would accumulate six total sacks on the night. They would hold the San Francisco running AND passing games to a cumulative 142 yards. Try as he might, Kap could do no damage with his legs in this game, being bottled up and pressured to throw early, often. He would get lucky and notch no interceptions on the night, though there were some close calls.
The defense, infamous so far this season for bleeding away fourth quarter leads, refined their pressures, blitzes and coverage schemes, effectively making the third and fourth quarters nearly scoreless. In fact, the only scoring play Seattle gave up was deep in the third quarter, a Field Goal to Phil Dawson. Save for that, the 49ers notched NO points on the evening. Earl Thomas III lead the team in tackles with 7, but it was the Cliff Avril and Michael Bennet show, combining for 5 of the teams 6 sacks on the evening. The other sack was split between Brandon Mebane and David King. Avril, Bennet, Wagner and Wright followed close behind with 5, 5, 5, and 4 tackles, respectfully.
The frustration with the offensive line continues. Russell Wilson, who was leading the league in sacks with 28 before this game, tacked on another 5 in this outing. The play by the offensive line was mixed, as Wilson found himself being blindsided with tackles from either side, but on occasion, was able to push the ball deep downfield. On other occasions, he would throw under pressure into coverage, resulting in two interceptions, one in the end zone, and another right around the 20/15 yard line. While the line still seems to be allergic to protecting their quarterback, they’ve completely stepped up in their run blocking abilities, providing holes for Marshawn Lynch to tally 122 yards and a touchdown. Lynch was actually on the sideline with his head visibly over a trashcan, but he missed only one series before resuming his Beast Mode duties for the week, stiff arming San Francisco defenders and spinning around others for yard after yard.
Speaking of Wilson, he and Special Teams standout/WR3 Tyler Lockett finally connected on a deep throw, off of a flea flicker pass for 43 yards to find a leaping Lockett in the end zone with single coverage. This score occurred with a few minutes remaining in the first half. Lockett becomes the first Seahawks player since Nate Burleson in franchise history to record a punt return, kick return, and receiving touchdown in the same season. He also joins Green Bay’s Randall Cobb in those ranks of earning the trifecta as an NFL rookie. The total passing yards for the evening was 212, an extra 5 yards per pass when compares to San Francisco’s. Jimmy Graham came back down to earth with just 31 receiving yards, and was involved in a scary double defender hit, where his head, neck and body moved in opposite directions. No fumbles on that play. This game, also as par for the course with Seattle this season, started out red hot in the first half and was markedly different in the second half. No offensive touchdowns were scored for either team in the entire second half. 8 of Seattle’s 20 total points from scrimmage came off of the handy leg and foot of Steven Hauschka, two field goals and two extra points.
Seattle continues their road trip next week to Dallas, who are still facing a backup QB situation in Matt Cassell. Former Seattle Seahawks running back Christine Michael is poised for his first full time start with the Cowboys this week in their game against the NY Giants, and may be looking to put up big numbers on the ground versus his former team. With WR Dez Bryant inching ever closer to return, it appears (on paper) that this will be another ‘must win’ road game for the ‘Hawks. Seattle is certainly looking for payback, after losing a Turkey day game last year in Seattle. This time around, the Cowboys do not have DeMarco Murray, and Seattle will look to shut them down, eliminating the 10 points Dallas put up in the fourth quarter the last time these two teams played. The possibility of heading into the bye week at 4-4 (and winning two straight on the road) sets up suspense for three home matches versus division leader Arizona Cardinals, the San Francisco 49ers (Again) and the Pittsburgh Steelers to round out November. The Cardinals, while starting out this season on fire, have slowly started throwing more interceptions and, amazingly, losing games. Seattle is now second in the division, still in the hunt for the NFC West is still on in full force, GO HAWKS!