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All-22 Musings: Eye-catching plays from the Seahawks victory over the Steelers

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Seattle Seahawks v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

For a second straight week, the Seattle Seahawks came out victorious in their duel against an AFC North foe. Though it was again by a small margin, Week 2 brought a much better performance; turnovers and pass protection aside, the Seahawks were great on Sunday. A great game brings great plays and individual performances, so there’s plenty to see in this week’s column.

(For those who missed last week’s, the purpose of this column is to go over all the eye-catching plays, regardless of why they catch the eye. It could be a stop in the backfield, a big play or something in between.)

[PIT 2-5 PIT 30] (14:30) J. Conner right tackle to PIT 30 for no gain (A. Woods)

We saw Al Woods play tremendously stout against the run last week, including when he made the play on a crucial 4th and 1. This is another “wow,” play from Woods. Seattle’s offseason addition is listed at 330 pounds by the team, but flashes quick feet here moving down the line, squaring up James Conner and making the tackle.

[PIT 3-5 PIT 30] (13:48) (Shotgun) B. Roethlisberger sacked at PIT 23 for -7 yards (B. Jackson)

Branden Jackson getting more snaps than Rasheem Green, who started at LEO, was interesting, as we watch the defensive line rotation shake out during the early part of the season. Both are on the field here, but Jackson has Alejandro Villanueva beat off the snap, on the back foot almost immediately, and then it’s a great effort to finish. (An aside: Jadeveon Clowney rushing from a stand-up position in the interior, which he did often in Houston, was very exciting to see, too.)

[SEA 1-10 SEA 38] (12:58) (Shotgun) R. Wilson pass short left to DK. Metcalf to PIT 46 for 16 yards (S. Nelson)

Frankly, it does not matter if DK Metcalf lacks fluidity in and out of his breaks. If he can adjust to the ball like this and haul it in consistently, that will make up for glacial breaks. Especially when combined with the veteran savviness he displayed last week on in-breaking routes.

[PIT 2-3 PIT 27] (10:11) (Shotgun) B. Roethlisberger pass incomplete short middle to R. Switzer

The double team saves Roethlisberger from certain destruction, but just watch the way Clowney beats Derwin Gray, skipping into the T/G gap only to be held up by David DeCastro. Clowney’s swim move is an early favorite to appear in this column the most often this season.

[PIT 3-3 PIT 27] (10:07) (Shotgun) B. Roethlisberger pass incomplete short left to R. Switzer (J. Clowney)

Clowney’s awareness of when to halt his rush and bat down a ball—eyes fixed on the quarterback the entire time—is really special. That’s two straight weeks he’s done it, and it’s going to be fun to track during the season. (An aside: In the wide view, you can see Switzer, the intended target, has come open for a first down. Instead, Pittsburgh punts.)

[SEA 1-19 SEA 12] (9:29) (Shotgun) C. Carson right end pushed ob at SEA 33 for 21 yards (S. Davis)

I have criticized Duane Brown—who has been an outstanding Seahawk—for really showing his age through two weeks in 2019. I’ve also been skeptical of Mike Iupati, who has struggles staying healthy. But this is a great job by both of them, pulling across and helping Carson spring this run. Look at the 34-year-old Brown getting up to the second level!

[SEA 2-14 SEA 29] (7:54) (Shotgun) R. Wilson pass short right to T. Lockett pushed ob at PIT 49 for 22 yards (S. Davis)

Tyler Lockett’s turn up-field here, after securing the catch, is marvelously fluid. But what always blows me away with Lockett is the ease with which he can slow down, open his hips and accelerate. It’s a rare type of burst. We saw it in his first NFL preseason, threatening to house every single return, and we’ve seen him continue to do it since then. He’s a special mover with the football.

[PIT 1-16 PIT 7] (4:34) Z. Banner reported in as eligible. B. Roethlisberger pass short right to V. McDonald to PIT 15 for 8 yards (K. Wright, Sq. Griffin)

(For the purpose of this exercise, we’re going to ignore how hard the majority of the defense crashed on the play fake.) It is a bit of relief, after a season from hell last year for him, to watch K.J. Wright find and fly to the ball, weaving through traffic here. Just turned 30 years old, a knee that’s betraying him, but first to the football. Those instincts aren’t breaking down with his body, and it could help to extend his career.

[PIT 1-10 PIT 45] (2:28) J. Conner left tackle to PIT 46 for 1 yard (M. Kendricks; J. Clowney)

It’s the definition of teaching tape to watch Clowney set the edge, unmoved, and shed his blocker to make the tackle at the line of scrimmage here. He’s truly an elite run defender, the kind with the length and physical ability to dictate all of his movements when he’s engaged with a blocker.

[SEA 1-10 SEA 16] (1:24) G. Fant reported in as eligible. C. Carson right tackle to SEA 32 for 16 yards (J. Haden)

The offensive line has been (rightly) maligned through two weeks, but this is tremendous blocking from the entire right side, plus Justin Britt. A hat on every head, great push up front to clear the path for Chris Carson. George Fant sealing out T.J. Watt was especially beautiful.

[SEA 1-10 SEA 25] (14:44) (Shotgun) R. Wilson pass short left to C. Carson pushed ob at SEA 34 for 9 yards (S. Nelson)

Something I hammered on last week, in regards to Carson’s seven Week 1 targets, was how smart it was to get him the ball in space the way they were. The same applies here: When the defense is giving you the right look to tell you Carson will receive the ball with that much separation, it’s a great target—regardless of the value of running back targets. It’s such an easy gain, every single time.

[SEA 1-10 PIT 14] (8:45) (Shotgun) R. Wilson pass short right to W. Dissly for 14 yards, TOUCHDOWN

This was an awesome adjustment by Thrill Dissly to haul in the touchdown, but the burst with which he broke into the secondary was so damn encouraging. He really seems to have made a complete recovery from a brutal injury, and it will be terrific to see his develop get back on track this season.

[SEA 1-15 SEA 8] (1:55) (Shotgun) R. Wilson pass short middle to M. Turner pushed ob at SEA 38 for 30 yards (S. Davis)

On all three of Malik Turner’s catches, what impressed me is how quickly he gets turned around and moves up-field. There are no wasted movements, no trying to cut backwards to make the highlight play (Golden Tate-esque, if you will). It’s like he’s a running back finishing his run, just taking as much yardage as is available—you can tell why Pete Carroll loves him. (Side note: Pre-snap motion is great, look at what Carson does to Mark Barron. He gets absolutely turned around, out of the play before the ball is snapped.)

[SEA 1-10 50] (1:26) (No Huddle, Shotgun) R. Wilson pass short left to C. Prosise ran ob at PIT 41 for 9 yards

It seems simple—and it probably is—but this is how C.J. Prosise will keep getting snaps in the two-minute drill. He likely could’ve gotten at least five extra yards by breaking up-field after the catch instead of to the sideline, but then the clock keeps ticking. A smart and selfless play by Prosise.

[SEA 2-12 PIT 42] (11:53) (Shotgun) R. Wilson pass short left to DK. Metcalf to PIT 25 for 17 yards (S. Nelson)

Metcalf’s run after the catch here was great, of course, but it’s an exciting wrinkle to have Dissly split wide and Metcalf slot left. We know Metcalf will be restricted to the left side early in his career, but shifting him inside on the left is a good way to A. Get mismatches for him versus smaller cornerbacks or slower linebackers and safeties and B. Enable Lockett to play 50/50 between the inside and outside, like he was able to do with Doug Baldwin on the roster.

[SEA 2-5 SEA 45] (4:34) (Shotgun) R. Wilson pass short right to C. Carson to PIT 45 for 10 yards (C. Heyward)

One of my favorite developments on offense through two weeks is Seattle incorporating these swing screens into their offense. It’s a simple way for an easy completion and yardage, and they’re blocking it well through two weeks, too. Carson in space is a dangerous, unpleasant proposition for any defender.

[SEA 3-2 PIT 37] (3:04) (Shotgun) R. Penny right guard for 37 yards, TOUCHDOWN

Rashaad Penny has rare explosiveness, and the Seahawks should continue to put him in positions to showcase that. Foot in the ground, into space, and Russell Wilson may as well be doing the Vince Carter “it’s over,” rather than blocking.

[PIT 2-5 SEA 26] (13:34) (Shotgun) M. Rudolph pass incomplete deep right to J. Smith-Schuster. Coverage by 26-Griffin, 30-McDougald

Something that slipped under the radar a little bit last week was Shaquill Griffin telling reporters he was back down to his college weight, after playing 2018 at 212 pounds.

Well, here’s the 194-pound Griffin sticking with Smith-Schuster—who is extremely slippery!—through multiple breaks. It’s safe to get very excited about Griffin again.

[SEA 3-3 PIT 28] (7:22) (Shotgun) R. Wilson pass deep left to DK. Metcalf for 28 yards, TOUCHDOWN

Again, Seattle has Dissly wide left with Metcalf in the slot. That alignment leads to a one-on-one matchup for Metcalf against Terrell Edmunds—who, while a really exciting sophomore safety and great athlete—is in a mismatch versus Metcalf. Result: Touchdown.

The Seahawks will return home in Week 3 to face the New Orleans Saints, who find themselves without future Hall of Famer Drew Brees following surgery this week. Regardless, the Saints boast two electric playmakers on offense and blue chip players on the defensive line and the secondary; it will be a great matchup on Sunday.