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Seahawks have a top-3 run defense through first 3 weeks of NFL season

On a per-play basis, only two teams are tougher to run against than Seattle.

Seattle Seahawks v Detroit Lions Photo by Todd Rosenberg/Getty Images

The “big” question about the Seattle Seahawks defense when the season started was how it would do against the run.

And rightly so, given that the team was embarrassingly awful against the run last year.

Through the first three weeks, the answer to that question is . . .


. . .

Week 1 vs. the Los Angeles Rams:

  • Top Rusher: Kyren Williams: 15 carries for 52 yards and 2 TDs
  • Team Totals: 40 carries for 92 yards (2.3 per carry) with 3 TDs


Week 2 vs. the Detroit Lions:

  • Top Rusher: David Montgomery: 16 carries for 67 yards and 1 TD
  • Team Totals: 27 carries for 102 yards (3.8 per carry) with 1 TD


Week 3 vs. the Carolina Panthers

  • Top Rusher: Miles Sanders: 9 carries for 24 yards and 1 TD
  • Team Totals: 14 carries for 44 yards (3.1 per carry) with 1 TD


Lest one think that the Seahawks have benefited from playing against teams that aren’t good at running the ball . . .

Here are the rushing totals from the Rams’ other 2 games:

Seattle allowed 2.3.


Alas, the Seahawks gave up slightly more yards (on a per-carry basis) than the other teams the Lions have faced:

  • In the NFL Kickoff game versus the Kansas City Chiefs, the Lions ran for 118 yards on 34 carries (3.5 average) with 1 touchdown.
  • Last week against the Atlanta Falcons, the Lions had 115 yards on 31 carries (3.7 average) with 1 TD.

Seattle allowed 3.8.


Seattle righted the ship against the Panthers though:

  • Week 1 vs. the Falcons, Carolina ran the ball 32 times for 154 yards (4.8 average).
  • Week 2 vs. the New Orleans Saints, the Panthers ran 19 times for 100 yards (5.3 average).

Seattle allowed 3.1.


Now, here’s where it gets really interesting . . .

Through the first three weeks of the season, teams have run the ball 81 times against the Seahawks. That’s smack dab in the middle of the pack, league wide:

  • Fifteen teams have had the ball run on them more times than Seattle has (the New York Jets are No. 1 at 106).
  • Fifteen have faced less running plays than Seattle (led by the 49ers at 43).
  • The Washington Commanders are tied with the Seahawks at 81.

Yet the Seahawks have allowed the 6th-lowest total rushing yards (208 through the first three games), and . . .

. . . the 3rd-lowest yards per carry.

For some perspective on that last stat, here’s the Top 5:

  1. Tennessee Titans, 2.6
  2. Cleveland Browns, 2.8
  3. Seattle Seahawks, 2.9
  4. Philadelphia Eagles, 3.0
  5. Detroit Lions, 3.2

Want some more perspective?

The league average through the first three weeks is 4.1 yards per carry.

Note: Super amusingly, because math is fun like this, there’s not a single NFL team currently allowing 4.1 yards per carry. Overall, the Atlanta Falcons, New York Giants, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers are closest at 4.2. On the low side, the Kansas City Chiefs are closest at 3.9.

The next test for Seattle’s run defense is Monday night in New York Jersey against the struggling Giants, who may or may not be without their best running back.

Here’s how the Giants have done on the ground thus far:

Week 1 vs. the Dallas Cowboys

  • Leading Rusher: Saquon Barkley: 12 for 51, long of 18
  • Team Totals: 28 for 108 (3.9 average)


Week 2 vs. the Arizona Cardinals

  • Leading Rusher: Saquon Barkley: 17 for 63 with 1 TD, long of 16
  • Team Totals: 27 for 127 (4.7 average) with 2 TDs


Week 3 vs. the San Francisco 49ers

  • Leading Rusher: Matt Breida: 4 for 17 with 1 TD, long of 8
  • Team Totals: 11 for 29 (2.6 average) with 1 TD


Obviously, the Giants are less effective on the ground with their backup running back. I think that’s the case with most teams.

It certainly didn’t help that they were facing the Niners last week without their top back.

For the season though, the Giants are averaging 4.0 yards per carry (66 for 264 with 3 TDs) and the 49ers are allowing an average of 3.7 (43 for 159 with 2 TDs), so . . .

On paper . . .

Seattle’s run defense should have another strong showing at MetLife Stadium on Monday night vs. the Giants.

Especially if Saquon Barkley is watching in street clothes.

Go Hawks!