For a while, the Seattle Seahawks’ matchup against the Arizona Cardinals appeared to be shaping up like Seattle’s previous division contest against the San Francisco 49ers — a 29 – 3 route. Seattle jumped out to a breezy 14 – 0 lead. Due to some familiar and previously unseen characteristics, the Seahawks’ rare Thursday Night Football appearance turned out a little different.
Coincidentally, the NFC-leading Seahawks are looking at a 2013 season that may turn out a little different.
Determination — in the guise of Marshawn Lynch — has taken this team to 6 – 1. Lynch’s apparent touchdown in the third quarter of their contest in Arizona, pretty much sums up his running style. Just ask Darnell Dockett’s helmet. Lynch was ultimately ruled short of the goal line, but the lesson was taught. Beast mode is this team’s most reliable offensive option. Later, Lynch got his touchdown in typical Lynch fashion — two defenders met him at the one, but barely impeded his momentum across the goal line.
Greed turned out to be not so good for the Seattle Seahawks. In the second quarter, nursing their 14 – 0 lead, the Seahawks faced a fourth-and-inches situation just inside Cardinal territory. They came up short, as rookie tight end Luke Willson got beat across his face by a Cardinal defender who stopped quarterback Russell Wilson short.
Wilson got greedy himself later in the quarter. After dropping back to pass deep in his own territory, Wilson held onto the ball too long, giving defensive end Matt Shaughnessy a chance to get off his block and paste Wilson from the side, jarring the ball loose. Arizona recovered and promptly scored their first touchdown to bring the game within one score.
The Seahawks defense netted seven sacks against the Cardinals. Just another day at the office. After last night’s game, the Cardinals may want to change their nickname to the “Third-and-Longs.” Seattle relies up wave after wave of defenders in the negative side of the line of scrimmage. Despite missing key players through the first six weeks of the season, Seattle’s defensive front continues to deliver consistent disruptive pressure. From Clinton McDonald to Cliff Avril to Michael Bennett to Bruce Irvin, Seattle’s front seven has proven itself equal to the Legion of Boom in terms of impact.
Seattle’s exposure on the edges of their offensive line is plain for any future opponent to see. Replacement tackles Michael Bowie and Paul McQuistan made life difficult for Marshawn Lynch and near-disastrous for Russell Wilson (three fumbles; 2 lost), due to frequent pressure from Shaughnessy and John Abraham. Russell Okung and Breno Giacomini cannot get back into the lineup fast enough for offensive line coach Tom Cable.
With oft-injured James Carpenter going down late in the game, the Seahawks are legitimately running out of reserves to keep the offense going. Fullback Derrick Coleman’s hamstring injury does not help the blocking situation.
The Seahawks’ schedule through November eases considerably. With upcoming games against the struggling Rams, Buccaneers, Falcons and Vikings and then a bye, the Seahawks are sitting pretty before what looks like a playoff preview against the co-NFC-leading New Orleans Saints on December 2nd.
The Seahawks have more than a month to sharpen their weaknesses — namely, their decimated and inconsistent offensive line and less-than-scary passing game, by fattening up on four of the worst teams the NFC can offer this side of New York.
Based on Thursday night’s performance, Seattle’s passing game looks to be on the upswing. Wilson tossed three touchdown passes, including two to tight ends. Percy Harvin is rumored to be returning sooner rather than later — Perhaps for week 8 against the Rams. Just in time to provide a much-needed boost to Seattle’s 24th-ranked passing attack.
The Seahawks have never before started a season 6 – 1. Their franchise-best start should be bolstered by the next stretch — the easiest part of their schedule. The Seahawks could realistically be looking at facing the Saints with a 10 – 1 record. If they can maintain their run prowess and realize improvements in their passing game and offensive line, while simultaneously continuing to wreak havoc on defense, this has the makings of a Super season.
That would be a little different.