I told you guys! Nothing is fucked here!
I did a tiny bit of digging on the Vegas line for this game. It apparently opened anywhere from the Seahawks being 3.5-point to 5.5-point favorites and the public bet it down to the Seahawks just being favored by 3. I don’t have a good handle on how Vegas did last night, but I would suspect they did very well. I have to believe the majority of the money was on Arizona to at least cover, if not win outright. Regardless of that, the over/under was set in the mid-to-high 50’s, and you KNOW everyone and their grandmothers were betting the OVER in this one. With the Seahawks winning 28-21 (Arizona failing to cover, obviously failing to win, and both teams hitting well UNDER), it’s my hunch that Vegas really had a good night last night.
I hate to kick things off so negatively, but we can’t get through a Thursday Night Football game without a season-ending injury, it would appear! Remember Richard Sherman’s last game in a Seahawks uniform? Oddly enough, it was also against the Arizona Cardinals (as a matter of fact, Earl Thomas’ last game here was ALSO against the Cards; we lose more Hall of Famers playing this team than I’ve ever seen!). What isn’t so odd is that Sherman’s last game in a Seahawks uniform was a Thursday Night Football game, when he finally ruptured an already-injured Achilles tendon. Had he had a proper amount of rest and recovery that week, we might not have lost him when we did (indeed, he might’ve very well managed it throughout the season, with frequent rest days in practice).
Well, Greg Olsen – apparently our prized free agent pickup this past offseason (even though literally everyone feels it was a lot of money, poorly spent, but that’s neither here nor there) – suffered a fascia tear last night and figures to be lost for the year (there MIGHT be an outside chance he could return in time for the Super Bowl – if the Seahawks manage to make it that far – but it’s obviously way too early to make those kinds of predictions). I immediately thought of Sherman, because the cases seem so similar. Both are aging veterans. I imagine this was a nagging injury Olsen has been gutting his way through for a while. And, I suspect – much like Sherman – if he’d had a regular rest & recovery period, this might not have happened right now, and we’d still have Olsen going forward. These are non-contact injuries, so obviously there’s a strong possibility that they’re both flukes and could’ve happened at any time. But, I feel very strongly that having just played a football game four days prior is the bigger culprit in all of this.
Before I get off of my injury high horse, I’ll pour a little out for Brandon Shell, who suffered a more traditional sprained ankle injury when someone rolled up on him as he was blocking someone else. The severity is unknown, but it’s obviously quite worrisome, as he’s far-and-away our best right tackle. He could return as early as our next game (if it’s just a regular ankle sprain), or he could be lost until the playoffs (if it’s a high-ankle variety). Fingers crossed it’s not that bad!
From a defensive standpoint, this game went exactly as it needed to. If we can hold teams to 21 points per game the rest of the way, we’ll never lose again! We forced four Arizona punts in the first half – including one when they got the ball with less than two minutes to go, which is always prime scoring time against this defense – and held them to just a lone touchdown in taking a 16-7 lead into the break.
Things were a little touch-and-go in the second half, as Arizona started out with back-to-back scoring drives of 81 and 90 yards, but the Seahawks were able to maintain their lead throughout. Probably the scariest part of the game was when we led 23-21 and punted back to the Cardinals on their own 14 yard line. Thankfully, an Intentional Grounding penalty, followed by a holding penalty in the endzone, resulted in a safety for the Seahawks. That begat a field goal for the Seahawks (to give the game its final score) on a near-seven minute drive, which then begat the Cardinals getting the ball back with just over 2 minutes left in the game, needing a touchdown to tie. The Cards were in good shape, getting inside the Seahawks’ 30-yard line with just under a minute to play, but our defense stiffened there, culminating on a Carlos Dunlap sack on fourth down to end it.
Dunlap was everything I’ve ever wanted in a defensive end in this one! He had four tackles, two sacks, and three hits on the quarterback. All told, the Seahawks had three sacks (with L.J. Collier lucking into one, but I’ll obviously take it) and seven hits on the quarterback, after not touching Kyler Murray at all in the previous game we played down in Arizona. Murray looked like he was suffering from an injury to his throwing shoulder, and it’s tough to say how much that affected him. He probably isn’t using it as an excuse, but there were a number of errant throws that helped kill a lot of drives (there were also lots of AMAZING throws on his part, so maybe the shoulder really wasn’t that big of a deal and he’s just an inconsistent, young passer?).
I don’t know how you don’t call this the best all-around defensive performance for the Seahawks this season. In spite of failing to generate any Arizona turnovers, we held Murray to 269 yards passing (the second-fewest among quarterbacks who played the entire game against us this year), we held their entire rushing attack to just 57 yards on 18 carries (in a game that was never so far out of reach that they needed to abandon the run, at least until the very last drive), and I think most importantly: we held DeAndre Hopkins to just 5 catches and 51 yards (one week after he caught 12 balls for 127 yards, including that hail mary touchdown at the end to win it against the Bills). I’ll always wonder how much of that was forced by our improved defense, versus how much of that was Murray choosing to not force-feed his #1 receiver. Hopkins was matched up against Tre Flowers for a lot of the game, and – per usual – Flowers gave up a huge cushion; it seemed like they had that comeback route to the first down marker any time they wanted it. Why they didn’t go to that well time and time again, I have no idea.
Offensively, this was decidedly an old school Russell Wilson performance: 23/28, 197 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs. You could tell me that’s a stat line from 2013 and I’d believe it. To be fair, D.K. Metcalf dropped a surefire touchdown right before halftime, resulting in the Seahawks settling for a field goal (to also be fair, Wilson threw that ball about 5,000 miles per hour right at Metcalf’s face, resulting in it bouncing off of his helmet before he had time to properly react and catch it), but I think it’s safe to say this game won’t be heavily featured on Wilson’s MVP Hype Video. It was an efficient, turnover-free game, though, and that’s EXACTLY what you’re looking for on a short week, after losing 3 of 4 games largely because of inefficiency and turnovers.
Carlos Hyde was very warmly received by fans and the team alike in this one (Chris Carson was indeed held out another week, but figures to be back very soon). You could tell from the first carry: there’s a SIGNIFICANT drop-off in talent between Hyde and the running backs under Hyde. That being said, Bo Scarbrough was called up from the practice squad for this one and played as the #2 running back, and I thought he looked solid! Certainly better than Alex Collins or DeeJay Dallas or Travis Homer. Hyde ran for 79 yards and a touchdown on only 14 carries, and Scarbrough ran for another 31 yards on 6 carries. Including Wilson runs (10 for 42) and a lone Dallas carry, the Seahawks combined for 165 yards on 31 carries, which has to be a Pete Carroll tantric wet dream.
Tyler Lockett led all receivers with 9 receptions for 67 yards and a pretty touchdown in the back corner of the endzone. D.K. Metcalf’s day could’ve gone better (he had at least a couple drops, and one of his big catches was called back by a bogus holding penalty; the refs in this one probably had the worst performance of anyone on the field), but he did end up with 3 catches for 46 yards and a touchdown.
As I said before, this win puts us in great shape. We’re now 7-3, and 2-2 in the division (5-2 in the conference). Our very next game is a Monday night affair on the 30th in Philly. Given how bad the Eagles are, and how elite the Seahawks are on MNF, I really like our chances in that one. Then we have back-to-back home games against the New York teams (they should be pushovers), followed by a road game in Washington (which sneakily might be the toughest of the bunch). I have the utmost confidence in the Seahawks being 4-0 in this stretch, which brings us back home for a Must Win game against the Rams (to ensure our winning the NFC West), before a season-ending Should Win game against the 49ers on the road.
I hope the Seahawks use these next 11 days to get healthy, because we’re heading directly into the home stretch of the regular season. It’s time to stop fucking around and put some distance between us and the rest of the NFC. If the defense can look just like this the rest of the way, I think we’ll be okay.