This was a win, for sure, in the most technical sense of the word. It sure wasn't pretty and until very late in the game I don't remember feeling all to warm and fuzzy inside about what was happening. That being said, let's take a look at some of the good, bad and ugly from this game.
First - no major injuries. Now, the rest...
The defense. I keep coming back to this but it's become part of the identity of this team, but this defense has an attitude. It's that swagger that you see from elite teams and there's something almost tangible about the way the Seahawks play defense now. This week, they were led by Chris Clemons, who picked up three sacks and three quarterback hits, a pass defensed, and forced two fumbles that were recovered by the Seahawks. This performance came against a new starting left tackle so it's not necessarily to be looked at as a 'breakout' or something that is easily repeatable but there's one pattern that I feel is emerging for Seattle, and that is - if Chris Clemons plays out of his mind, the defense dominates.
I think we've talked about this a lot over the season - the Seahawks defense might be one really consistent pass rusher away from being elite - and when Chris Clemons plays the way he did on Sunday, I think that theory holds true. Though there are obviously a few holes to fix - it'd be nice to have a Warren Sapp type 3-tech that could rack up 15 sacks over a season from inside - having a DE or two that can get to the quarterback and make his life miserable really allows the rest of the defense to lock down their opponent.
This defense is built to stop the run. And it does that. If it had the capability to pressure the quarterback with any consistent success, boy oh boy.
Another player that I thought played an excellent game was Brandon Mebane, who did a great job knifing through the line and making tackles for loss on at least two occasions. Alan Branch, Red Bryant, and Mebane really set a tone on the line and limited Steven Jackson to 42 yards on 15 attempts, a 2.8 ypc rate. That's pretty decent considering after that performance, Jackson is now down to 4.8 yards per carry on the season.
Some more good - the punting. Jon Ryan is quietly having a Pro Bowl year and averaged 49.7 yards per punt. This average included a partially blocked punt that went for 30 yards so if you throw that one out, his per punt clip goes to 52.1. He kicked the football 71-yards at one point. Deece.
The rushing attack continued to gain some traction despite the offensive line losing it's right side. The Hawks went over 100 yards for the third straight game, and though they're picking up yardage the hard way - at 3.2 yards per carry yesterday - it's working in the time of possession category, something the Seahawks won 35:00-25:00 against the Rams. This goes back to helping the defense by keeping them off the field and fresh.
I liked that explosive plays stayed a big part of the offensive attack, and the Seahawks even scripted in their own first play as a trick end-around throw by former high school quarterback Sidney Rice that went for 55 yards. Tarvaris Jackson also completed a 35-yard pass to Doug Baldwin and Justin Forsett broke off a 22-yard run for a touchdown late in the game.
I liked that the Seahawks made some big mistakes early and fell behind on the road, but bounced back first to get back into it then once in the lead they maintained control. We've seen the Seahawks, in recent years, fall behind early and completely fall apart. That's not happening anymore and it comes down to the players believing.
I am going to keep this section brief if only to enjoy this win a little bit on a Monday morning, but there were definitely some worrisome aspects. First and foremost was the offensive output against a less than elite defense. The Seahawks O never really got running on all cylinders and started off extremely slowly. They got things going eventually and made enough plays to win the game, but Tarvaris Jackson was mediocre and the rushing attack wasn't as potent as you'd like to see.
Also, the kick/punt returns of late have me a little worried, as do just the overall performance of special teams. Leon Washington has had issues gaining anything big in the return game, ran backwards on one occasion, losing precious yardage, and muffed a punt that could have been brutal and changed the course of the game had Byron Maxwell not recovered it. I know that Leon is one of the best in the business but Sunday wasn't his, or the special teams kick units', best game. As Nick pointed out, I would be remiss to mention that Leon did almost return one to the house (he had just the punter to beat) so it's not like he played awful, it's just something to improve on.
On offense, the Seahawks are still not using all their weapons. They had only one target to their tight ends, a ten yard pass to Zach Miller. That's just not enough and I feel like Darrell Bevell should work to include them significantly more despite the big losses on the offensive line.
Speaking of the offensive line, replacement right guard Paul McQuistan, by my estimation, had a rough day, if not only for the repeated penalties he incurred in key spots. Two false starts and a hold went against McQuistan and it will be interesting to see if the Seahawks do anything about this - they've got a capable Lemuel Jeanpierre waiting in the wings and I've heard good things about UDFA rookie Jerriel King as well. Also, with James Carpenter yet to go on the IR, another roster spot is about to open up. I'm not advocating the benching of McQuistan at all - it's a tough, tough spot to be in for him, but at what point do the Seahawks start sitting down repeat penalty offenders?
Speaking of those penalties - seriously, what the hell? 13 more for 100 yards lost. It's just annoying.