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Cigar Thoughts, Game 4: Seahawks defense serves up a beatdown with their spoon

The Seahawks D went nuclear as they beat the New York Giants 24-3, pushing Seattle to 3-1 on the season

Seattle Seahawks v New York Giants Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

***As most of you know, Cigar Thoughts is now a podcast. One of the perks of the pod is getting these articles in audio form, in addition to our sit-downs with our amazing guests. You can listen to all the shows, including this article, right here:

When the line for this game debuted on sports books, the Giants were favored by a point and a half and it took every ounce of self-control and respect for my wife not to bet the house on the Seahawks to win. Turns out I actually hurt us by refraining. Imagine it— two houses!

Now usually, I spend the bulk of this column breaking down the blow-by-blow of the game, and I’m gonna do it tonight too, because I love you. But this game was thematic, and the theme was kicking the god damn asses of the New York Giants all over their own field in front of the entire country.

The Seahawks won the toss and deferred to the Giants, who responded with a long, six-minute drive that featured New York hacking at Seattle’s exposed heel with pre-snap motion, a couple gashing runs, and wide open crossing routes. It led to three first downs and a fair amount of teeth-gnashing from Seattle’s fans. Little did we know at the time, that’s as good as it would get for the home team offense, and they didn’t even score!

On the drive, Jamal Adams announced his return with a massive hit-stick tackle in the right flat and then announced his departure with a concussion a few plays later. Fucking heartbreaking, because no one— not no one— wanted to play this game more than Jamal. The drive also featured a sack by Jordan Brooks, who pushed Daniel Jones out of bounds for the first of an absolutely ludicrous number in that category. Eventually, the Giants faced a 4th & 1 deep in Seahawks territory and to their credit, they went for it.

A couple months ago, there was a semi-viral discussion on Twitter about whether the average joe could gain five yards on ten carries in the NFL, and the most common response was a reference to the Eagles’ “brotherly shove” as to why your brother-in-law could accomplish the seemingly unimpressive feat. Forgetting for a moment that Chad wouldn’t make it two snaps without being carted off the field, what happened next was the proof that no the fuck you couldn’t. The Giants lined up two offensive linemen behind Jones for the sneak and still the Seattle defense was too strong to let him cross the threshold. The Seahawks’ D-line went low while Brooks and Bobby Wagner launched a two-prong aerial attack, knocking Jones back and turning the ball over.

Seattle’s first play of the game featured a run to Ken Walker, who worked his way off the right end before Bobby Okereke came screaming in to wrap him up. As he did, brought Walker down on top of him and the Seattle RB hopped out of the tackle and ran unbothered for a 73-yard touchdown while New York defenders stood around assuming the play was over. The refs wisely never blew the whistle, knowing that scoring plays automatically get reviewed. The call was eventually overturned—I’m not sure the video evidence was conclusive but they got it right from a spirit-of-the-law perspective. Seattle summarily went three and out and Michael Dickson came out to boom his first punt of the night away, a kick that rookie Evan Hull fumbled but a Giants player worked his way to the bottom of the scrum to keep possession.

New York’s next drive went nowhere, highlighted by Devon Witherspoon timing a blind-side blitz perfectly and blowing Jones up for his first sack of the night. Yes, his first. The play was awesome for a number of reasons, not the least of which was because Witherspoon missed a tackle on Darren Waller on the play before it.

After the ensuing Giants punt, a slick play-action completion to Noah Fant for 12 on 1st down led to a hilarious series of ineptitude, as the Seahawks committed penalties on four straight plays, including a 21-yard completion to Tyler Lockett that counted but also sort of didn’t count because DK Metcalf held a defensive back after the catch. Eventually, Metcalf caught a would-be first down but he stepped out of bounds before making the grab. The catch was called off and they punted it away again.

Sensing the offense’s struggles, the Seahawks defense went to work. After an 11-yard completion to Wan’Dale Robinson, Uchenna Nwosu came free off the left edge, forcing Jones off his spot and into a scramble to the right. While that was happening, Mario Edwards Jr chased him down and stripped the ball with a Superman dive from behind, bringing his right hand down like Thor’s hammer and jarring the ball loose from the QB’s grip. Brooks scooped it up in stride and barreled his way down to the New York 7, setting up the first score of the game.

After Walker got bottled up on first down, Geno Smith dropped back and, finding no one open over the middle, pivoted and rolled right. With the pressure closing in, he fired towards the back right edge of the endzone towards a well-covered DK Metcalf. Metcalf waited until the last possible moment, acting like he was blocking for a broken play before disengaging from his defender. The pass arrived, and I’m telling you, he didn’t make his move until the ball was at the goal line. Metcalf launched himself towards the sideline, snagging the spiral and crashing to the ground for six. Jason Myers added the extra point and Seattle had a 7-0 lead. Just an insanely high-IQ play from Seattle’s superstar wide receiver.

The Giants ground out a first down on their next drive but by this time, Seattle’s defense was feeling themselves and they forced another punt with relentless pressure and sticky coverage. Seattle’s offensive struggles continued on the following drive, despite an absolute bullet of a completion to Metcalf on 1st down, with injuries to Phil Haynes and Damien Lewis creating an almost entirely backup OL struggling to contain the Giants rush. On that possession, Geno had a pass deflected back to him, which he caught and scrambled to the left sideline. As he stepped out of bounds, Isaiah Hodgins tackled him from behind and rolled up on his legs. Geno stayed in the game for one more play before going back to the locker room for x-rays, but not before he limped over to the Giants defensive huddle and gave them a stern talking to— finger in their faces and everything.

Still, the Seahawks had to boot it away again, another gorgeous kick— this one downed at the 2 yard line, leading to New York’s penultimate productive drive of the night, halfway through the second quarter. The home team shuffled their way to three points on 12 plays that covered 61 yards. Despite the length of the drive, we were treated to two massive hits from Devon Witherspoon, who seems hell-bent on making his imprint every single play he’s on the field.

Graham Gano stuffed his 55-yard attempt into the bottom right quadrant between the uprights, cutting the score to 7-3 and two teams whose combined average scores were 53 points seemed destined for a slog. To their credit, Seattle answered their opponent’s best possession, as they have for three straight weeks, with their best. They marched 75 yards on seven plays, with Drew freaking Lock at the helm.

While Smith was getting looked at by the docs, Lock came in and went full Leroy Jenkins, freewheeling his way to glory by spinning all over the place. He scrambled for a first down, missed a wide open Jaxon Smith-Njigba, hit Metcalf for a first down, then dotted up Fant for Seattle’s biggest play of the game. On it, he found his athletic tight end in stride on the right hash and Fant did the rest, turning upfield and miraculously staying in bounds twice as New York defenders hit him down the sideline. Simmons finally dragged him down at the 1, robbing Lock of a TD pass, but Walker sealed it with a touchdown plunge on the following play and Seattle took a 14-3 lead into the locker room.

The Seahawks got the ball to start the third quarter and with it, were graced by Geno’s return. He responded by leading a nine-play, 57-yard drive that eventually fizzled when Seattle (to Pete Carroll’s credit) went for it on 4th & 1 from New York’s 15 up by 11. It was sparked by a beautiful 20-yard completion to Tyler Lockett on 3rd & 1— I fucking LOVE when they throw to the second level on 3rd & short— and Geno got flagged for 15 yards for letting the Giants sideline know about it after the play. Now, as much as I appreciated Seattle going for it once they got to 4th down, I wasn’t thrilled with the play they called. With Zach Charbonnet in the game, and coming off a couple of ferocious runs, Smith rolled right on and flung a pass out towards the second round pick. The throw was behind his target and fell incomplete. The aggression is good, and should continue, but I can’t help but think they could do better than a one-read pass play to a backup RB on the boundary— but I admire the chutzpah.

On the ensuing possession, Jones completed a three-yard pass to Robinson that Quandre Diggs blew up, and that was followed by Seattle’s two dynamic linebackers getting busy. Brooks knifed through the line to sack Jones on second down and Wagner swallowed him up on the very next snap, forcing another Giants punt. A big return from Deejay Dallas put Seattle in great position but their offense folded and Myers trotted out for a 53-yard field goal. The Seahawks kicker, riding last week’s hot streak, hit a toe-draw with plenty of distance but pulled it left and the Giants got one last breath of life.

Watching the game with some buddies who were presciently victory-lapping already, I mentioned that something goofy was going to happen to make this game closer than it should be and for a moment, your boy seemed to be right. A facemask penalty by Edwards Jr helped the Giants get all the way to Seattle’s 5 after a 10-play march. New York was on the front porch of their first touchdown but when they rang the doorbell, they were met by Devon Witherspoon holding a shotgun.

On the next play, Jones dropped back and winged a pass to the goal line towards Parris Campbell. Witherspoon, playing his first game in the slot, recognized the read immediately and jumped the pass, picking it off and weaving 97 yards to the house, flanked by Riq Woolen and former Giant Julian Love, escorting the rookie to the biggest moment of his young career. After the play, cameras showed New York’s head coach Brian Daboll lambasting Jones on the sideline, eventually tossing his Microsoft Surface next to his quarterback in disgust. All I could think in that moment was “Pete Carroll would never.”

That play made it 21-3 Seattle, and put whatever comeback hopes the Giants had in an inescapable chokehold. From that point on, it became a Faces Of Death VHS tape. The Seahawks unchained the demons, turning them loose to feast on the gasping body of a Giants team praying for a death that was still an hour away. What once felt like a competitive football game became a macabre display of grotesque brutality, as Seattle beat their opponents into a gristly mess of bone fragments and frayed sinew.

By the time the coroner identified the time of death, the Seahawks had a 24-3 win and were sailing into their bye week at 3-1.


~The Giants tried to turn this game into a brawl, chipping Seahawks players after a multitude of plays, grabbing facemasks and sometimes outright shoving them to the turf. But instead of coming off as mean, they looked like ill-prepared punks, covering up their inability to win within the boundaries of the game with fake tough-guy antics. Seattle didn’t flinch, going jaw-to-jaw at each opportunity and then whooping that ass at every turn. A massive come-at-me performance from the good guys in front of a national audience.

~This was far from Geno Smith’s best game statistically but it might have been his best game from a here-I-am perspective. That man has a FIRE in him and he made sure the Giants knew all about it after the play that briefly knocked him out of the game. Twenty years from now, I will remember him getting rolled up on, hobbling back to his sideline, and then turning around to go one-on-eleven with the New York huddle until his team saw what was happening and rallied around them.

His stat line was 13/20 for 110 yards and a touchdown with no turnovers for a passer rating of 95.8 and a fuck-you rating of 158.3.

~Drew Lock is so fun, and I loved seeing him get the scoring drive, but I was very grateful to see Smith re-enter this game. Lock’s vibes are fantastic in the way that an untrained golden retriever’s vibes are fantastic. A blast to play with but you wouldn’t leave him in the house unattended. Otherwise you’re coming home to hair on the couch, a half-empty container of sour cream, and an upcoming vet bill. He went 2/6 for 63 yards and ran for 11 more which, yeah.

~Ken Walker took a while to get going, his overturned TD notwithstanding. His first five carries totaled zero yards, though it did include a touchdown that counted, but he gained 79 yards on his final 12 totes as he helped wear down a beleaguered New York defense. He’s been everything you could hope for from a feature back this year.

~Zach Charbonnet is still in a complimentary role, and will likely stay there as long as Walker is healthy, but my god if he doesn’t leave an imprint every time he touches the ball. He’s four partially-involved games into his career and he already has opposing defenders making business decisions when they see him coming. He’s still searching for his first score but he tallied 40 bruising yards on just six touches. There weren’t a lot of offensive plays to go around in this one, but he made his count. Absolutely love what I’ve seen from the kid so far.

~In that same vein, the receiving pie was pretty small tonight. Tyler Lockett led the way with four catches on six targets for 54 yards while Noah Fant added 63 on his two grabs. DK Metcalf only had 34 on three but his touchdown was maybe the most veteran play we’ve ever seen from him. I feel like I say it every week but watching his evolution from raw talent to wily pro with otherworldly physical gifts has been an absolute joy.

You could tell the team wanted to get Jaxon Smith-Njigba more involved tonight and he saw a career-high six targets but was only able to translate them into three grabs for five yards. The line would’ve looked considerably better if Lock hadn’t missed him when he was wide open 20 yards downfield but at some point they’re gonna need to figure out how to take advantage of his remarkable gifts. His breakout is coming but man, I’m ready for him to come out of hibernation.

~It was an Oprah night on defense. Everybody look under your chairs... that’s right. You get a sack! You get a sack! You get a sack! The Seahawks took Daniel Jones down so many times they ran out of dances, 11 in total. They had four players with multiple sacks, the first team to do that in 36 years. Two for Bobby Wagner, two for Jordyn Brooks, two for Devon Witherspoon (!), two for Uchenna Nwosu, one for Boye Mafe, one for Mario Edwards Jr, and one for Myles Adams. It tied a franchise record for QB takedowns and opened a window for this defense that’s been sealed shut for nearly a decade. What we saw tonight isn’t likely to be repeated but it showed us what they’re capable of and it was a hallmark moment for defensive coordinator Clint Hurtt.

~Bobby Wagner turned back the clock with one of the greatest statistical games of his Hall of Fame career. He read the Giants defense like he had written the gameplan for them, logging an incredible 18 tackles to go with his two sacks. He was everything everywhere all at once tonight.

~Jordyn Brooks looked fully healthy for the first time all season, overcoming a blown coverage early to leave his teeth-marks all over this game. 10 tackles, two sacks, plus an additional tackle for loss. Fearsome.

~On the podcast this week we talked about the possibility of a Julian Love revenge game and he responded with his best performance as a Seahawk. The spotty coverage and tackling issues that plagued him through the first three games were nowhere to be found tonight, as he also picked up 10 tackles, including one in the backfield, by playing downhill all game.

~Dre’Mont Jones wasn’t able to join the sack party but no less than three of the 11 were the direct result of him knifing through the O-line like so much butter. His disruption wasn’t fully captured by the stat sheet but this was the first game where he looked like the guy worthy of the contract he signed in Seattle.

~Quandre Diggs is still the man. He had a number of big tackles in this game and added the exclamation point to New York’s life sentence with his fourth quarter interception. So much of his teammates’ statistical glory is due to his near-flawless defense of Seattle’s back end.

~Devon Witherspoon, take a bow— your moment has come. What we saw from him against the Panthers last week was a revelation but if you weren’t watching that game, you probably didn’t hear about it. Tonight though, in New York, in front of the entire country, he doused the Meadowlands in gasoline and cackled maniacally as he tossed the match.

With injuries to Coby Bryant and Tre Brown, he moved inside to nickel for the first time and responded by pulling the pin on the got damn grenade. He plays with a ferocity we haven’t seen since the LOB and made sure every single football fan knew his name by the time the game ended. Seven tackles, two sacks, three QB hits, one pass broken up, and a 97-yard interception return for a touchdown— a pick six for pick five.

Watching the replay, it was remarkable how quickly he diagnosed the play and acted on it. Even with the receiver feinting inside, Witherspoon broke on the ball the moment Daniel Jones set his back foot. The resulting return is what makes the highlight but it was really just a post-coital glow for the outrageous anticipation he displayed when his defense was backed against the wall. If you’ve been listening to the podcast this summer, you know how excited I was about this guy and it’s precisely because his college tape was absolutely littered with examples of that same alien intuition. I’m not sure that even I am prepared for the stardom awaiting this kid.

~There were a lot of reasons I was excited for this game but none more than the return of Jamal Adams. When he blasted Parris Campbell in the flat on that first drive you could feel the year-plus of pent-up aggression finally given an outlet. He plays so god damn hard, and you could just see how badly he wanted to be out there. That’s what makes his concussion so sorrowful. I know he’ll very likely be back in time for Seattle’s next game but after spending an eternity in a straight-leg cast, battling depression and the ridiculous criticism of Seahawks fans, you could tell he was desperate to show why Seattle traded for him in the first place. His time is coming, I just really wish he could’ve been a part of the party this evening.

~Michael Dickson will likely never fully receive the flowers he is due. He holds the NFL record for career average punt distance and he was sensational again tonight, booming his four punts an average of 53 yards, three of which were downed inside the 10. I love that dude.

~Seattle still stinks on 3rd down, going just 3/13 tonight, but they’ve displayed aggression on 4th down and are keeping me happy by looking for chunk plays on 1st & 2nd downs to keep 3rd downs at a minimum. It’s a conundrum as to how they can be so poor at converting those 3rd downs while still punting at the second least-frequent rate in the NFL.

~I will never doubt Pete Carroll again— at least not from a macro perspective. Every coach is gonna make some decisions I disagree with in the moment but there is no doubt he is the king of vibes and the culture he’s built in Seattle is undeniable. I’ve never been more wrong about anything than I was in calling on the franchise to prioritize Russell Wilson over him when it became clear that they could no longer coexist.

The Seattle Seahawks are 3-1 and headed for a bye week that couldn’t get here soon enough. They suffered an embarrassing opening day loss and have since been riddled with injuries and yet they head into their respite in remarkable shape from a trajectory standpoint. They’ve shown they can win with offense and now, with defense; and while there will always be aspects of the game that need to be sharpened, they’re extremely well-positioned.

Only two teams in the NFL have better records than they do and they haven’t even been fully healthy for a single game yet. That might change in a couple of weeks and when it does, look the hell out. Until then, onwards and upwards my friends.

Tonight I smoked a Tatuaje 10 Tuxtla— a playful little cigar with a robust taste that stays with you even after it’s finished. It was bold enough to stand alone but not so much that it couldn’t play nice with the Makers 46 I paired it with. Will absolutely be revisiting this stogie in the future.

And if you didn’t know, we also have our own cigars now, which you can order below:


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