Maybe the Seahawks should play all their games in London. Or maybe they should just play all their games against the Raiders. Seattle flew to the other side of the world and buried the Raiders in the middle of the pitch. It probably wasn’t the thriller that the NFL was hoping for from their international exhibition but then again they rarely are. Instead, the British were treated to an old school American beatdown, courtesy of the Pacific Northwest.
This game didn’t take long to establish its narrative. Seattle scored a touchdown on their opening drive for the first time in
one-hundred-and-thirty-four games with a drive that gave Schottenheimers everywhere a contact high. The Seahawks started at their own 18 and immediately ran a jet sweep(!) to Tyler Lockett for 7 yards. It was the first of seven consecutive running plays to start the game, which net the ‘Hawks 31 yards and pushed them up to midfield. That’s when Russell Wilson finally faked the handoff and the O-line — get this — stayed disciplined. Instead of running blindly down the field before the pass like they always do for some reason, they set up a fortress around rookie Rashaad Penny, who caught the screen pass and exploded up the field for 24 yards.After being a healthy scratch and pushed to third on the depth chart, it was encouraging to see Penny look swift and decisive.
Six plays and a couple penalties later, Wilson converted a 2nd & goal from the six via a slick pass to Jaron Brown for the game’s opening score. 14 plays, 82 yards, 53 broken spirits. It was exactly the type of possession that the organization has bet everything on being able to win games in today’s NFL.
The Raiders tried to answer back in kind, as they let their hellbeast Marshawn Lynch carry the ball on all three downs. Seattle’s defense was more than ready, and muzzled their former superstar to the tune of just one yard. It’s how the whole game would go, as the Seahawks tied the Raiders hands behind their backs and then spent the next three and a half hours slapping them with open palms.
Seattle beat Oakland in every way from the spectacular to the mundane. They continued to run the ball at an anachronistic pace, logging 35 carries against just 24 pass plays. When they did throw, they used lots of play-action, protected well, and moved the pocket to give Russ space to create. He responded with his best game of the year, completing 17 of 23 passes for 222 yards and 3 TDs. He did have one interception when he tried to force a throw to Doug Baldwin between three defenders at the goal line, but the rest was a collection of finely calculated risks.
I know I spent the whole first month complaining about Seattle’s offense so I need to give credit where it’s due. I don’t hate running the ball a lot, especially when your defense is playing this well, but I need to see some creativity in doing so. Today was the second straight game where we saw that, as Brian Schottenheimer incorporated pre-snap motion, well-executed draws, and a true read-option to keep Oakland on their heels. All three running backs were involved and each had at least a couple plays that showed they belong. Perhaps most importantly, we saw Wilson keep the ball a number of times, which he hadn’t done all season.
It was the type of offense that makes you feel like they can keep up when they need to, and cement a lead when necessary. Meanwhile, the Seahawks defense put the Raiders offense inside of a giant plastic bag then vacuumed all the air out of it. Oakland never got anything going besides stringing a few cute first downs together in the second quarter. On a particular two-drive stretch, the Raiders somehow ran 25 plays for 94 yards and didn’t score a single point. Oakland wouldn’t crack the scoreboard until their final drive, settling for a face-saving field goal late in the fourth.
The outcome was never in question and when the final horn sounded, it was Seattle trotting off the field with a dominating 27-3 win.
*Much was made about Marshawn Lynch squaring off against his former team. He is without question one of the most fascinating and impressive athletes in Seattle history and there’s no doubt he was looking forward to the chance to show out against his old boys. That never materialized, however, as Seattle’s front seven gave him next to no room to get going. It’s not like he wasn’t given opportunities, though. Despite trailing on literally every offensive snap, Lynch still received 16 touches, but could only manage 59 yards.
*Russell Wilson looked like Russell Wilson today. Finally. I get that the team wants to protect him but so far this season the Seahawks have been like Ferrari owners that only use it to get groceries. On his first TD, Russ wiggled around in the pocket until Jaron Brown could slip free in the end zone. Wilson then uncorked his pea shooter and zipped the ball into an open window for the game’s first score. His next one was even more on brand.
Facing 3rd & 5 on Oakland’s 19, Wilson mishandled an awkward shotgun snap. He calmly scooped the ball up, stepped into the pocket, faked a check down, then calibrated his sniper’s scope downfield. As he casually approached the line of scrimmage, Wilson threw a preposterously high pass towards glory. That’s where early-season sensation David Moore sprinted under it, tapping his feet in the color along the back of the end zone. His final TD was a sly rocket to Ty Lockett, who slipped inside of his man to catch the high-speed pass from 10 yards out.
By the time the game was over, Wilson had a sterling passer rating of 125.4 on a phenomenal 9.7 yards per attempt. He ran the ball on purpose four times for 22 yards and looked sure and decisive. He looks so different from the unsettled QB who forced throws and skittered away from the slightest hint of pressure at the beginning of the year. Russell Wilson is at his best amid the maelstrom, and attempts to sterilize the offense around him only served to stifle one of the most creative players in football. His volume stats may not be crazy at year’s end, but in this new, more dynamic offense he looks fantastic.
*Wilson was helped out by a bevy of terrific efforts from the guys around him. First of all, the OL was incredible. For the fourth straight week they consistently won off the snap, getting positive push on running plays and creating an entire zip code from which Wilson could throw.
His receivers came to play, too. Doug Baldwin is back, baby. He turned a team-high eight-targets into a team-high six catches for a team-high 91 yards. He looked quick for the first time today, and even made a sensational falling catch on a deep ball with a defender all over him. Speaking of great grabs, David Moore had two more of them today. The first was the ballet TD I previously mentioned and the second was a gorgeous twisting high-point catch over a cornerback down the sideline. How he grabbed the ball and got both feet in is beyond me. He’s only been targeted 9 times this year but he’s turned them into 7 catches for 124 yards and 3 TDs. Seahawks may have found themselves another weapon.
The running backs were the story once again this week. Pete Carroll deployed all three of his halfbacks today, each of whom played well enough to continue earning a share of the offense. Here’s the breakdown:
Chris Carson- 14 touches, 59 yards
Rashaad Penny: 11 touches, 70 yards
Mike Davis: 7 touches, 26 yards
Nothing spectacular, but all of it steady. That Penny was the most effective is particularly rad, cuz we already know the other two are straight.
*The defense was outstanding today. Aside from allowing a few long third down conversions in the first half, the Seahawks D was impenetrable in England. The Raiders ran 56 plays and only net 185 yards. That’s 3.3 yards per play. Not per rush. per play.
They sacked Derek Carr 6 times this morning. Frank Clark led the way with 2.5, giving him 5.5 through 6 games. The other 3.5 were split between Jarran Reed (who’s been awesome this year), Branden Jackson, and Shemar Stephen. Barkevious Mingo led the team in tackles, incredibly, and the coverage from the secondary was sap-like. Just full-fledged domination of an inferior opponent.
*How does 9/13 on third down sound? Two weeks after going 0/10 against the Cardinals, Seattle looked smooth and professional on third downs today, converting more than 2⁄3 of their opportunities. If they do that they can beat anybody. Defensively, they held Oakland to 4/12. Winning on third down has a lot to do with winning on the scoreboard and it’s been extremely encouraging to see Seattle perform so well in that regard.
The Seahawks now find themselves 3-3. Only two NFC teams have more wins than they do, which puts them right back in the fat part of the bell curve. There’s a ton of history saying teams that start 0-2 won’t make the playoffs but the Seahawks aren’t 0-2 anymore. This is a team that, despite the superstar losses, look gritty enough to compete with any team in this league.
As the days have grown shorter, optimism surrounding this team has grown brighter. There is a ton of season left to be played, but the ‘Hawks have now outscored their opponents by 26 points on the season and clearly believe in themselves. Just hard to find anything to be overly critical of in this one.
Today’s win resets the season, and gives Seattle a 10-game stretch in which to make the postseason. It’s a task they suddenly looked well-equipped to carry out. Onward, upward, go ‘Hawks.
Wrote this one at a restaurant cuz we’re moving into the new digs this weekend, and I’m sans cable. So it was Woodford Reserve and no stogie til after. When I did have a chance to light up, it was with an old fav, the Gurkha Centurian.