Not for nothing, but that game was EXACTLY what the doctor ordered.
Let’s face it, the defense won’t be dominant forever. Depending on the opponent, the defense might not even be all that good. It’s a hard truth akin to finding out there isn’t actually a Santa Claus, and one we’re all going to have to come to realize in our own time. Some of you might be holding out hope, arguing that those are just the Legion of Boom’s HELPERS you’re seeing at every shopping mall. But, in a quiet moment of reflection, ask yourself this: do you feel confident that the Seahawks can hold down the best offenses in football, the way we had for the most part from 2012-2014?
I don’t know if I do. Which means: we’re going to need to lean on our offense now more than ever before to win us ballgames.
There are various monkeys the Seahawks got off their backs with this win over the Steelers. For starters, the 2015 Seahawks finally beat a team with a winning record. Indeed, should they keep some semblance of health, the Steelers should even be a playoff team. So, that’s encouraging. We took the best shot against one of the best passing games in all of football, and we dished it back out to them. Even more encouraging is that this wasn’t some miracle comeback like we’ve been prone to witness. The Steelers didn’t jump out to a 20-point lead for us to overcome; this was nip & tuck the whole way through, neither team going ahead by more than one score until the very end, when the Seahawks scored on that 80-yard touchdown to Baldwin to go up 9 points with two minutes to go. After the Steelers broke the 0-0 tie with a field goal, there were SEVEN lead changes the rest of the way! No huge lulls by the offense (except maybe for the bulk of the third quarter), and probably most importantly, no turnovers by the offense.
The other major monkey, of course, was that the Seahawks finally beat a team when that team scored over 25 points or some absurd number. It’s not like the Seahawks NEVER score in the 30s under Pete Carroll and Russell Wilson, but it’s just that usually the other team is held in check. We’ve never won a shootout with those principles in place, breaking I believe (off of memory) a 12-game losing streak. Dating back to the beginning of the 2014 season (when we finally had Percy Harvin healthy, and we were expecting this team every week to look like they did in the Super Bowl against Denver), Seahawks fans have been wondering when the offense would finally surpass the defense. It might be safe to say that moment happened yesterday, against a Steelers defense that isn’t necessarily amazing, but has had its share of success in carrying that team to a potential Wild Card berth with Roethlisberger missing much of the season.
Then again, that’s probably just me overreacting to recency bias in a 1-game sample.
If you take a closer look at that game, ugly as it was from a defensive perspective, there’s actually some promising elements to take away. For starters, Richard Sherman had himself a day! He finally nabbed his first interception (after a season’s worth of dropped picks) on a day where he shadowed the best receiver in the league, holding Antonio Brown to 51 yards on 6 receptions. Obviously, the elephant in the room is Markus Wheaton’s 9 catches for 201 yards and a touchdown, which points to an obvious lack of depth in our secondary. But, it also points to Ben Roethlisberger being the best deep ball passer in the entire league, not to mention the Steelers are absolutely fucking loaded at the wide receiver position. When a guy like Wheaton is your third receiver, I’d say you’re pretty loaded. For what it’s worth, though, I thought DeShawn Shead looked pretty good in his first real extended look as the team’s corner opposite Sherman. He found himself playing catch-up a lot to the speedy Martavis Bryant, but he recovered well enough more often than not to hold him to 5 catches for 69 yards.
On a quick side note, can you imagine what this game would’ve become had Cary Williams not been benched entirely and kept inactive? I don’t think we’ve seen the last of him in a Seahawks uniform, considering Burley can’t keep himself healthy, but his days as a starter here HAVE to be over.
It’s honestly weird to praise a unit that helped give up the most passing yards in franchise history (Roethlisberger threw for 456 yards, with Landry throwing for another 34 yards once Big Ben went out with a concussion), but we were going to struggle against this passing attack regardless; even at our peak back in 2013, we still would’ve given up yards in bunches. But, there’s reason for optimism, if for no other reason than we won’t see a passing attack NEARLY this good again until the final week of the season (when the Cardinals may or may not be resting starters, as they will likely have locked themselves into the 2-seed at that point).
Getting back to the offense, it was good to see Wilson getting the ball out on time, in the rhythm of the offense. Also, when your offense scores six TDs and is perfect in the red zone, I think you HAVE to be obligated to praise the offensive coordinator. I give Darrell Bevell a ton of shit – and rightfully so – but I also have to give him credit when it’s due. He’s still as inept as the day is long when it comes to calling plays for 2-point conversions (seriously, a fade to Kevin Smith?), but in the end it didn’t totally screw us over, so I think I’ll let it slide (as if he cares what I think).
Finally, big ups to Baldwin, Kearse, and Graham for catching damn near everything in sight. It’s tough losing Graham for the season, but I tend to side with the people that believe this will free the OC and quarterback in their decisionmaking, as they won’t necessarily have to cater to anyone’s ego when calling plays and dishing out passes. Mix in a little good ol’ fashioned Ewing Theory, and we might be poised for a timely and important streak of wins!