Before I begin this tangent, I would love if you’d allow me to add some context to my words: I did not watch the Seahawks game live. Unfortunately, I was only able to follow along through the twitterverse and Yahoo Sports intermittently throughout the contest. I did not experience the sadistic nature of the matchup, the emotional highs and lows, or the pure frustration.
I’d like to think that gives me a more level-headed take than most, but I’ll let you be the judge of that.
That game was awesome. Absolutely awesome. Don’t get me wrong, because it was terrible. But at the same time, it was awesome.
The Seattle Seahawks defense played out of it’s fucking mind. Never have I seen them endure such a tremendously exhausting game while dominating nearly the entire time. In moments where ‘a game of inches’ truly represented all that is good and holy about the sport of football, the Seahawks delivered time after time.
When the offense couldn’t gain a first down to save their lives time after time again, the defensive unit was repeatedly forced to return to their own personal hellscape and continually shut down the Arizona offense.
David Johnson ran the ball 33 times and was targeted through the air on another 13 occasions. Seattle built an offensive mentality years ago of wearing teams down by pounding the rock on the ground over and over until the opposing defense gives. The Cardinals attempted this tactic against Seattle. They gained 3.4 yards per carry. When their opponent had chances to win on consecutive carries inside the five, the Seahawks forced two stops inside the 1-yard line.
Do not get me wrong here. The Seahawks didn’t deserve to win this game. Because of this, I feel pretty damn good about not taking a loss. In a contest where the biggest threat to their division crown could have easily gained an entire game on them, Seattle found ways to make it happen and not win but not lose, which is definitely a preferred outcome.
In my weekly recaps, I usually single out three players that looked better than everyone else and laud them. That is not going to happen. I am going to praise the entire defense, because they played their tails off and deserve the recognition. After likely the most exhausting game of their careers, these dudes have seriously made me consider the possibility that this defense is near the level of the 2013 crew. And that is really saying something.
Think of all of the houses that are getting built in Haiti. Avril has looked like the most dominant edge player in football over the past two games and he shows no signs of slowing down. He was in the backfield just about every play, racking up 2.5 sacks in the process. How his final takedown of Palmer didn’t result in a fumble baffles me:
Palmer takes the snap out of the gun and the Seahawks rush four. Avril is the only one that beats his man. Coverage is solid downfield. The only receiver who is open in the least is Michael Floyd, who runs a crosser to the left. Palmer begins to wind up, in an attempt to throw to Floyd, just as Avril bends the edge and tomahawk chops down on his right arm. That is a strip sack 9 times out of 10.
With 6.5 sacks after 6 games, Avril has been on fire. I’m excited to see if he can keep up his dominance.
It was a “quiet” day from Michael Bennett, who only registered three tackles. I do remember seeing him blow up a couple of runs in the backfield which he didn’t get credit for on the score sheet. Just your typical under-the-radar-but-still-kicks-your-ass day from Mosesbread.
Clark continues to grow as a pass-rusher, adding another 1.5 sacks to his resume. His return was an important boost to Seattle’s defensive line rotation, especially in a game where time of possession was owned so overwhelmingly by Arizona. Pro Football Focus ranks him as the fifth most efficient pass rushing 4-3 defensive end this season.
Reed is a stud. That is all. Look at David Johnson’s stats.
Big Tuba is also a stud. It took a total team effort to slow down arguably the best running back in football, and the big uglies on the inside delivered on their end of the bargain handsomely.
There’s really nothing else I can say about Bobby at this point. He has consistently been the best player on the NFL’s best defense. He has been dominating defenses like he never has before. His overtime goal-line stop was my favorite play of the entire game:
David Johnson takes the carry out of the backfield in a single back set and has a gaping hole on the backside, opened up by Jermaine Gresham and Larry Fitzgerald. Wagner is initially behind the mass of players blocking to the right. He diagnoses, slides to his right, and meets Johnson immediately as he sets his feet. Seriously. Look at how quickly his legs snap back to plant. Bobby then puts on a form-tackling clinic and drives Johnson backwards to prevent the game-winning touchdown on a hurried play.
Oh, and by the way he also blocked a field goal and essentially forced another miss on the potential game-winner.
Until something changes, I will continue to believe that Wagner has been the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2016.
K.J. was popping off of the screen even more than Bobby to me. While he wasn’t as dominant, he was everywhere and didn’t seem to give up any ground whatsoever. Dropping Fitzgerald on screen passes, covering wide receivers and David Johnson out of the backfield... Wright continues to be one of the league’s most underappreciated players.
Can we take a second to think about how impressive Shead has been playing? Aside from his backslide against the Rams (Kenny Britt has had a surprisingly good year so far), the former safety has been pretty close to lockdown all season long. His emergence as an upper-echelon talent has allowed Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman to play different roles in Kris Richard’s scheme. Speaking of Sherm…
In the most physically demanding game of his life, Sherman delivered when he needed to. He slipped up on the long J.J. Nelson reception in overtime, but he had a critical pass defensed in overtime while also coming off of the edge hard on Catanzaro’s missed field goal. The combination of that and Bobby’s insane hops were heavy contributors to the lack of loss.
Sherman’s most impressive (and awesome) play of the day came early in the 4th quarter:
Seattle rushes five on a third-and-long with Palmer in the gun. Arizona has trips receivers to the left. Sherman initially covers Michael Floyd off of the line before turning and breaking as soon as Palmer targets Fitzgerald on an out route. Sherm lays the boom on Fitzerald just as the ball arrives, breaking up the pass and forcing a 4th down.
#Seahawks locker room a chilling reminder of toll NFL games can take on bodies. Richard Sherman could not talk. Needing help walking.— Gregg Bell (@gbellseattle) October 24, 2016
After such a controversial performance against the Falcons, Sherman emerged victorious against the Cardinals. Rest up, Sherm. You deserve it, my man.
A certain player on the Seahawks was on the field for more snaps than any other defensive player on an evening where every one played a load more than they would’ve liked. That player is Kelcie McCray. And on Arizona’s penultimate attempt at victory, he made a game-saving tackle on J.J. Nelson that would prove to be a pivotal piece in holding the Cardinals scoreless in the final seconds.
While Kam Chancellor is impossible to replace, McCray came back and played hard and well against a difficult offense to stop. He has been an invaluable member of this secondary over the last year or so.
I’m not going to delve into a whole lot on Earl. When he’s on his game, he’s the best safety in the league and it’s not really close. He’s been on his game for the past few weeks. By the commutative property yada yada yada…
Thomas has been roaming the field like a predator much more so recently and it is really fun to watch.
@earl closing speed is ridiculous! #wearedbnation #dbnation #dbu #noflyzone #lockdown #shutdown #playmaker #elite #cornerback #safety #jimthorpe #defensiveback #coverage #technique #technician #teachtape #bighits #hits #cfb #nfl #eyediscipline #jammed #Miami #florida #legionofboom #seattleseahawks #seahawks #texas #texasfootball #texaslonghorns
His goal line tackle of David Johnson preventing a touchdown in overtime will be permanently ingrained in our memories.
There is simply nobody better.
Like I said: This defense was on a whole different plane of existence on Sunday evening. If they can keep it up... Whew... Watch out, NFC.
–I had Robert Quinn flashbacks when I watched the game this morning. One dominant edge rusher is truly crippling to any sort of game plan that requires any deep drops. Two? Forget about it. With Sowell sustaining a knee injury, Seattle needs to figure out a way to game plan against pass rushers and they need to do it quickly.
–Russell Wilson needs to get the ball out quicker. I know Arizona’s defense is really good, but Darrell Bevell has to game plan around these disruptive defensive lines and figure it out. The offensive performance was offensive.
–Divisional contests are generally ugly. I will again repeat: The Seahawks did not lose and did not cede any ground to the Cardinals. They are firmly entrenched in first place a in control of their own destiny. Things went much better than they could have and if there has ever been a team that consistently digs its way out of holes like this, it’s Seattle.
–A trip to New Orleans is exactly what this Seattle offense needs. They’ll get back on track against one of the worst defenses in football. 0-0-1 every week. Wait a second…