Many expected the Seattle Seahawks (6-3) to win no more than six games all season. They have already racked up six wins and are 1.5 games ahead of the San Francisco 49ers and 2.5 games ahead of the defending Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams in the NFC West. What an incredible first half of the season this has turned out to be, and I don’t think the Seahawks have even played their best football yet!
It’s time for winners and losers after the team’s 31-21 victory and the season’s win over the Arizona Cardinals (3-6).
If Geno could have had five touchdowns last week, he could have had three interceptions this week. What happened is what happened and we saw Smith demonstrate his tremendous mental determination after a pick-6 that was both well read by Zaven Collins and thrown poorly. Seattle’s offense was struggling and Smith had just made his biggest game-changing mistake of the season. He responded by finishing the game 11/13 for 174 yards and a touchdown.
There have been many qualifications for Geno and what would happen if things didn’t go smoothly; would he fold under pressure or after a bad play? Today he didn’t, and his composure after the interception was on full display as he led the team to three straight finishes.
Finally, Noah Fant has arrived as the YAC monster. He tied for the team leader in receptions (5) and racked up 96 yards. For context, Fant had 176 yards all season before turning in the kind of performance that saw the Seahawks take him over as part of the Russell Wilson trade. Four of Fant’s five receptions were for first downs and that 51-yarder on the bootleg was essentially a dagger to Arizona’s chances of a comeback win.
I’m not impressed with Fant this season, but in a system where every tight ending feasts, Fant himself had an early Thanksgiving meal.
Kenneth Walker III
Not the best start for Walker given the difficulties of the Seahawks offensive line creating careers, but in the 4th quarter it was time for K9 to take on a tiring Arizona defense. By my count, he rushed 62 yards and a couple of touchdowns, earning him half a dozen 4th Quarter TDs in the season! Walker finished with 109 yards on 26 carries, as well as 3 catches for 20 receiving yards.
DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett
Metcalf wasn’t flashy, but he was effective and caught a tough touchdown that required getting both feet down with not much room left. It’s the type of TD you’d expect from a top-tier receiver and it succeeded. Lockett would be a loser for putting himself two yards short of a first down on 3rd and 15, but he responded with a critical 3rd and 12 grab (while being shot by Zaven Collins) and caught a touchdown that left Seattle for good . Did he get away with insanely obvious pass interference on Budda Baker? Yes. Would I be mad if we saw Seattle work like this? Yes. But since it benefited the Seahawks, wheeeeeeeeeeee!
Geno Smith was fired five times and harassed many more times in the first meeting against Arizona. In the rematch, Smith was only sacked twice – both in the first series of the 3rd quarter – and while there were eight QB hits in all, it rarely felt like he was under siege. Lest you think this was a fast pass-centric performance of Geno, it wasn’t.
Geno Smith completed 19 of 25 passes for 221 yards and 2 TD (+10.9% CPOE) when he held the ball for more than 2.5 seconds in Week 9.
Smith, 2.5+ seconds (2022):
— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) Nov 7, 2022
Signing of the season. Two more bags to bring his total to seven. You may find that the Seahawks get a lot of their pockets without blitzing, which is so huge compared to previous seasons where it felt like they had to send extra men to go after the quarterback.
He just turned 35 and might as well be 25. Irvin resigned his first since 2019 and his first with the Seahawks since leaving the team in 2015. He was a spark as a situational pass rusher and it’s great that this reunion has worked out a lot better than his injury-shortened in 2020.
Jordyn Brooks and Cody Barton
Yes, Cody Barton plays well. Brooks has been really impressive over the past few weeks, but Barton is the one I want to focus on. He was quick on the ball and didn’t miss as many tackles or get out of position as we had seen at the start of the season. The run defense remains solid after a leaky five-game opening, and they were both factors in that division. Everything clicks now for this Seahawks defense.
Tariq Woolen and Mike Jackson
Woolen was beaten for a touchdown by Zach Ertz, but he also defended a pass on a throw intended for DeAndre Hopkins and registered a tackle for loss on a screen. Jackson’s also held his runway opposite Woolen and both were instrumental in limiting Hopkins to just 3 catches for 14 yards after that failed cover touchdown on Arizona’s opening possession.
By far the biggest defense of the game was Neal as he forced Kyler Murray to fumble, leaving a probable 3-point minimum to nil before halftime. Seattle now has 16 forced fumbles in the season and Neal joins the party to get the ball out.
Yes, Josh Jones. He was on the scene for the awkward recovery and made some solid tackles on defense, which is a huge improvement over the horror shows that were his starts.
Seahawks Screen Passes
What has this team been doing in practice for the better part of a decade that makes them completely incapable of running a screen? If they don’t get penalized or lose yards, they get pick-6’d. This is absurd! The next one that’s really going to make a big profit will be cause to put up a banner at Lumen Field. They try and try and try and regardless of the QBs or the OL or the OC or the receiving threats it just doesn’t work.
Not that he played badly… but he had a mixture of bad luck and some rookie moments. Bryant’s approach in the open field really needs some work as he was guilty of a few third conversions that should have been stopped otherwise. He had also wiped out an interception due to a Quandre Diggs penalty and a forced fumble on Rondale Moore reversed to an incomplete pass. His day could have been better, but in the end it was a frustrating day at the office in front of the tower.
I almost prefer that there is no one left right now. DeeJay Dallas was lucky enough not to lose a fumble on a muted fair catch, which would have been the fourth lost fumble by the Seahawks point return this season. To my surprise, Dallas still had a 19-yard return on one of his three returns, so it wasn’t all bad, but I hold my breath when the Seahawks have to make a point.
That Marchioness Goodwin didn’t play and Eskridge still had no catches on two goals and no hasty attempts sums up how weekly he isn’t involved. Can he block well? Yes, is he a kick returner? I think so. But nothing clicks with him on the attack, and that’s what the Seahawks called him in for.
- Shane Waldron seemed to be calling the game very close to the vest as if he had no confidence in the attacking line to hold out. After the pick-6, the playcalling (particularly getting more involved in the running game) totally changed and we saw less of the cute scrimmage pass attack that Arizona continued to smell. The kick pass to Colby Parkinson failed after a similar play worked the previous week.
- Seven consecutive third conversions for the Seahawks on their last three possessions. What’s it like to have such a great third down offensive? We’ve rarely seen this happen, and it’s a big part of why the Seahawks finish teams in the 4th quarter by sustaining drives and delivering knockout punches.
- Only one injury of concern to Cullen Gillaspia or that stadium’s haunted house status wouldn’t come true!
- Arizona is poorly coached and incoherent, so I would have been upset if the Seahawks lost this game. I see no way their season can turn itself around. Kliff Kingsbury is someone whose genius tag was far too premature.
- On the other hand, Pete Carroll has this team humming. This offense is fun to watch because it doesn’t rely on magic and explosive play to perfection. That’s not to say there weren’t years of typical high-end offenses under Wilson, but the way this year’s offense works just doesn’t feel possible with this, at least Wilson’s more recent versions. It turns out that Carroll is indeed still a great coach and that he can still adapt and succeed in this competition. The queue for apologies will be very long.
- Bring on the Bucs, who gave us a solid win beating the Rams, but now it’s time to give Tom Brady an overseas L in Germany. The 2022 Seahawks have defied the critics, performing as one of the best teams in the NFL, let alone the NFC. Isn’t this much more fun than refueling?