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Seahawks-Cardinals: Odds, ends and quick thoughts

NFL: Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

The Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals engaged in an oddly thrilling 6-6 tie on Sunday Night Football, in a game that will be remembered for both(!) team’s kickers missing chip-shot field goals to win in the dying moments of overtime. It was one of the most dominant defensive performances during Pete Carroll’s time in Seattle, unfortunately it coincided with one of the most toothless offensive displays. The result is the first tie in Seahawks history, leaving just the Houston Texans and Jacksonville Jaguars as the only teams in league history to never have a regular season game end in a tie. It’s been 75 minutes of football, nearly four hours in real time, and I’m not even sure what I’ve just witnessed, so let’s get to some quick thoughts.

Russell Wilson has absolutely zero mobility right now. Three straight weeks, Seattle’s ran the read-option early on, and three straight weeks the defender on the edge has dared Wilson to keep it. And yup, you guessed it – three straight weeks Wilson’s kept it and gained nothing. All that’s doing is putting your star quarterback in harms way, maybe it’s time to shelf that one for a while.

Difficult to tell without the All-22 being uploaded yet, but it sure looked like blitzing the linebackers was costing the Seahawks. Anytime Arizona moved the chains, it was usually due to massive gaps in the zone underneath. For how dominant Cliff Avril was vs the Cards, a four-man rush would’ve been more than enough. Bobby Wagner and KJ Wright’s rate of blitzing has been an enjoyable wrinkle this season, but maybe wasn’t what was needed tonight.

Speaking of Avril, was he ever incredible!? The best game he’s played during his time in Seattle to me, and he gave the offense a chance to spin the game around on multiple occasions. When he was lined up across from Arizona’s right tackle DJ Humphries, it wasn’t fair. At all. Good news for Haiti, the Seahawks and their fans everywhere, Avril is getting home much more consistently this season and could end up posting a big sack number at the end of the year.

Two weeks in a row now that Christine Michael has ducked out of bounds a few yards short of the sticks; both times the drive has ended in a punt. Marshawn Lynch, Thomas Rawls and every other Seahawk-y running back fights for those yards, and that’s part of the reason why I believe the job will be Rawls’ once he returns. Michael has been playing great, but Seattle’s offense needs that physicality out of their running backs.

David Johnson’s fine form continued against the Seahawks, but if it wasn’t for Richard Sherman and KJ Wright it could’ve been much worse. Both players consistently made huge open field tackles against Johnson outside the numbers or at the second level. Wright’s been one of the most underrated 4-3 outside linebackers in the league for years now, and no matter how much praise he gets during broadcasts, Sherman’s tackling and physicality is criminally unheralded.

Seattle’s offensive line didn’t regress against Arizona; it simply was another matchup where they were considerably outmanned. The entire unit – tackles especially – were terrible against Miami and Los Angeles, serviceable against the toothless pass rushes of San Francisco and Atlanta, and solid against the New York Jets. The strength of the Jets’ defensive line is inside, which the Seahawks matched with three average-to-above-average players. Against the Cardinals, Chandler Jones and Markus Golden – who I called one of the league’s premier pass-rush duos this week – were always going to have an opportunity to wreck this game, and they did for the Seahawks offense.

Seattle is very lucky to have found a player like Neiko Thorpe. Finding a great gunner isn’t easy – it’s why the Patriots continue to pay Matt Slater good money despite just one career catch – and for the Seahawks to have replaced Ricardo Lockette with Thorpe almost immediately is a huge, huge move.

A terrible, terrible game from Jeremy Lane. Mental errors, getting baited by Arizona’s sideline and offensive players, and just simply getting beat on several occasions. That type of game has been rare from Lane over his career, but he could’ve cost the team even more than he did against the Cardinals.

So long, early season concerns: Earl Thomas is all the way back. He was far and away the best defender last week and would’ve been again in Arizona if it weren’t for Cliff Avril channeling every great pass rusher ever. Thomas is playing more physical and proactive than he was all last season, and it’s going to start showing up even more in the box score as the season goes along.

Tyler Lockett isn’t healthy; Jermaine Kearse has been a non-factor and Paul Richardson isn’t being unleashed downfield. Jimmy Graham and Doug Baldwin have been terrific this season, but Seattle’s offense needs a third receiving weapon to emerge soon if they want to avoid performances like this. Kearse’s role in the passing game has seemed to have been taken over (and then some) by Graham, and he should be the one to carve out a new role if Lockett’s going to continue at this level.

Special teams! Tanner McEvoy with a huge blocked punt, Bobby Wagner with a huge blocked field goal and certainly throwing Catanzaro off on his overtime attempt.

A strange, strange game indeed. A 6-6 tie feels dirty and unusual, but at the same time kind of refreshing? It was good to get out of there without a loss, and now the Seahawks get to try to right the ship against the terrible New Orleans Saints defense on the road.