What the Seahawks don’t have in experience they made up for in youth in their 36-25 win against the Giants on Sunday. Throughout much of the game, the Giants defense looked out of breath as the Seattle offense put up 315 yards through the air and 145 on the ground.
It’s not like the Seahawks tempo surprised the team either, Giants’ coach Tom Coughlin said he had been preparing the team for it all week in practice. So New York knew it was coming and still couldn’t stop it.
While Seattle has only shown this kind of energy in the second half of games this year, they came out swinging by marching down the field on the opening drive. It only took Tarvaris Jackson 8 plays and two and a half minutes to drive 80 yards capped with an 11-yard touchdown to Ben Obomanu.
Later in the quarter, after the Giants responded with a touchdown of their own, Marshawn Lynch broke a 47-yard run that he immediately followed up by punching it in at the goal line. Seattle held the 14-7 lead until just before the half. With Marcus Trufant sitting out this game with a back injury, Eli Manning attacked the Seahawks young corners and completed four straight passes of 10-yards or more, including a 19-yard touchdown to Hakim Nicks.
Trufant’s absence had a major impact on the passing game. The Seahawks gave up 420 yards passing to Manning, but they continued to show their toughness against the run. What they gave up in passing yards, they made up for in takeaways and their play on third down. The Giants converted only once on their 12 third-down opportunities.
Throwing for more than 160 yards in the first half, it looked like Jackson was on his way to duplicating his passing performance against the Falcons last week. But after getting hit on an 11-yard run early in the third quarter, Jackson came out of the game with a strained pectoral muscle.
Charlie Whitehurst came into the game and performed better in one half than he did in an entire game against the Giants last year. In his first starting opportunity last year he was 12-of-23 for 113 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions. Sunday he was 11-of-19 for 149 yards and a touchdown in helping lead the team to victory on the road.
The defense, offense and special teams all came up big in the second half. Steven Hauschka kicked field goals from 43 and 51 yards, Whitehurst tossed a touchdown pass, and the defense got a safety and sealed the win with a 94-yard interception return by Brandon Browner.
If not for Browner’s interception, the Giants could have scored a touchdown and it would have left the Seahawks with only a minute on the clock. This game wouldn’t have come down to the final minutes if not for fumbles by Lynch and Michael Robinson who both put the ball on the ground while in the red zone. Jackson was fortunate to only be intercepted once, as the Giants had at least two or three opportunities for picks.
As bad as the turnover situation was for Seattle, it was much worse for New York. Manning alone accounted for four turnovers, throwing three interceptions and fumbling on a sack by Chris Clemons on the Giants second drive of the game.
What really makes this win fun is listening to how some Giants players talk about how the team got jammed. With less than three minutes to play, Osi Umenyiora jumped offside and Whitehurst took advantage of the free play by throwing to a wide open Doug Baldwin for a 27-yard touchdown.
Baldwin, who led the team in receiving with eight catches and 136 yards, was so open you had to wonder if someone quit on the play. Interestingly, the guy tasked with covering Baldwin swears he heard a whistle, but the other corner who was covering Ben Obomanu in the same vicinity said he didn’t hear one. I’m sure some extremely creative writers in the New York area will end up coining the controversy “Whistle Gate,” but let’s all hope they don’t.
The win puts the Seahawks into sole possession of second place in the NFC West at 2-3. The 49ers now have a two-game cushion after an impressive 48-3 victory over Tampa Bay. Similarly, the Cardinals lost in an impressive fashion to the Vikings. Adrian Peterson led Minnesota to 28 first quarter points on their way to a 34-10 win. St. Louis remains in the cellar with their bye week.
Although the extent of Jackson’s injury was unknown after the game, the extra week will hopefully be all he needs to get healthy and keep the team on the path of contending for the NFC West. Seattle goes into their bye week looking like a much different team than they did in their first three games. For Seahawks fans, it’s been exciting to see the direction the team is heading based on the past six quarters. For Andrew Luck fans—maybe not so much.