The Seahawks completely dominated the Giants on defense and despite some less-than-optimal play on offense, easily won in a blowout, 23-0. Seattle moves to 12-2 on the year, finish 6-2 on the road (a franchise record), and 4-1 in 10:00am games.
A few notes:
- The Giants didn't advance the ball past midfield until about mid-way through the fourth quarter, which was well into garbage time. They went 1-for-12 on 3rd down, finished with 25 yards of rushing, and Seattle finished with 10 quarterback hits, four sacks, and five interceptions.
- That drive mentioned above, the Giants' first past midfield, ended in a brilliant pick by Earl Thomas after Richard Sherman tipped the ball his way.
In Sherman's 'student of the game' segment from a few weeks back, he talked about how he and Earl practice this play on go-route type coverages like this. (6:50 mark, hat tip to John P Boyle).
In addition to that intentional tip to Thomas, Sherman finished with two picks and a forced fumble. All about the ball.
- Byron Maxwell must have worn stick-um on his gloves today because he came down with two extremely difficult interceptions. Both plays looked to defy physics, as he deflected the pass with his inside hand and managed to secure the ball in one motion. Maxwell now has three picks in three starts - which brings up the question: is Maxwell actually an upgrade over the injured Brandon Browner? I'm not sure where I stand on this, to be honest - on one hand, it seems clear that Maxy has superior ball-skills and is much better at getting his head turned, finding, then tracking the football, but it's tough to find a corner that makes a bigger impact in the run game than Browner. Browner is a physical intimidator, and Maxwell is more of a technician. We could argue about which is preferable, but either way, happy to see Maxwell playing so well.
- Jeremy Lane has quietly become a very important role player in this defense and in special teams. He played very well in Seattle's nickel situations, recording five tackles and a pass defensed. He also had two tackles on special teams, and was consistently downing Jon Ryan's punts deep in New York territory.
- Michael Bennett had three quarterback hits and a sack. He also did this (#NSFW):
- Seattle's defense pressured Eli Manning all day, were stifling in the run game (New York finished with 1.8 yards per carry), and held Eli Manning to 139 yards passing on the day. As I said, dominant.
- On offense, things looked a little bit ... off, but overall nothing overly concerning. Golden Tate dropped/didn't catch a few passes that we'd normally see him come down with, Russell Wilson had a few key overthrows on plays that could have been touchdowns, and Marshawn Lynch never really broke out rushing, finishing with just 2.9 YPC. Coming in, we knew the Giants have a very good defense (10th per DVOA) and a very strong pass rush, so it's not overly surprising that they created some issues for Seattle's offense. That said, Wilson did finish with a solid 18-of-27 line (67%) for 206 yards, one touchdown, and one (quite terrible) interception. Wilson did rush for 50 yards though, and connected with Lynch six times for 73 yards, which was a nice little supplement to the run game.
All that said, here are a few notables to give you some perspective of how well Wilson has been playing in the aggregate, even if this specific game wasn't particularly smooth:
Russell Wilson joins Dan Merino and Peyton Manning as the only three quarterbacks to throw 50+ TDs in first two seasons. Wow.— Danny Kelly (@FieldGulls) December 15, 2013
I don't care for 'QB wins' as a stat, but it's notable that Wilson has now passed Ben Roethlisberger on the list of 'wins' over the first two seasons. Obviously, defense and special teams have a huge part of this, because Seattle is one of the most well-rounded teams (maybe in history), but it gives you an idea on how well Seattle has been able to play with a rookie and sophomore QB at the helm. This is rare territory.
Russell Wilson passes Ben Roethlisberger as the winningest QB through his first 2 seasons in NFL history (23) http://t.co/EekgQc2xH8— Sam Girard (@hwkbgr) December 15, 2013
- Speaking of rarified air, the Seahawks gave up four return yards on four punts in this game, which puts them at 19 total yards on the season. That beats the all-time record of 22 during a 14-game season, which was set by the 1967 Green Bay Packers. The all-time 16-game record for fewest punt return yards is 49, set by the Falcons in 2008. Seattle is on pace to break that as well. Hell of an amazing job by special teams - it starts with excellent, high, hanging accurate punts by Jon Ryan and superb, sound coverage by gunners and the rest. This is a huge deal for Pete Carroll, and we're talking about historically great special teams play on punts.
Overall, a nice win for Seattle, which keeps them in the driver's seat for the #1 seed. The Seahawks can clinch the NFC West with a win next week against the Cardinals.