When the Seattle Seahawks play clean football, they will beat a lot of teams in the NFL.
It’s that simple.
There are some — Denver, New England, New Orleans, San Francisco — where clean football alone won’t get it done. But against the Tennessee Titans at home, it’s all they needed.
And this was anything but clean.
A routine victory came perilously close to a defeat. This was ugly. And had the Seahawks been beaten today, it would’ve brought their entire identity into question.
Win the turnover battle.
Run the football.
Play great special teams.
That’s the foundation this team is built on.
Today, you wouldn’t have guessed it.
The situation at the end of the first half was just the most ridiculous moment in a mistake-riddled afternoon. Granted, it’s not often you lose your kicker and are then thrust into a big decision at the end of a half. Yet the Seahawks handled it badly and suffered a 10-point swing that could’ve been crucial.
Firstly, why try to kick? So much could’ve gone wrong with your punter kicking and a backup holder taking the snap. Pete Carroll and Brian Schneider should’ve identified the risk. This was a bonus drive remember, after a botched punt by the Titans. Go for it. Seattle had the ball to start the second half anyway.
After the game, Carroll took responsibility. He had to, really. For the second week in a row the Seahawks gave up a huge 10-point swing. Thankfully this week it didn’t cost them.
It just made for the most frustrating half time any of us will ever experience.
There were two other key mistakes. Sidney Rice’s decision to extend the football despite already picking up the first down was frankly incredible. Ditto Marshawn Lynch’s careless fumble that almost led to another stunning points swing.
Lynch has nine fumbles since the start of last season and two already in 2013. The sheer fact that everything else about Lynch’s game is sensational masks this issue. He needs to be more careful. The miscue today chould’ve easily led to a Titans touchdown. Zach Brown had the perfect opportunity to run it home some 90+ yards and in fairness, probably should’ve done.
Again, it wasn’t costly today. Just as Lynch’s fumble wasn’t costly against the Redskins in the playoffs. But it will be one day. He needs to do a better job protecting the football.
There were several minor issues aside from this — Seattle got away with a Derrick Coleman fumble, escaped on a third down play where they fielded ten players and gave up a fourth down conversion shortly after Earl Thomas over-enthusiastically celebrated a third down stop (knocking Kam Chancellor to the turf after a 30-yard sprint).
Third down was again an issue on both sides of the ball — the offense converted just 5/13 while Ryan Fitzgerald made some simple conversions. I guess those long term issues still need to be addressed.
Play action was again ineffective. Have teams found a way to limit the damage after all the success last year? How often has Wilson gone deep after a play action — one of the staples of 2012? Seattle really needs to develop the checkdown and shorter game as a safety net.
All this really undermined what was good about today. Seattle held Tennessee under 100 rushing yards, allowed six points on defense, had two interceptions and Russell Wilson carried the offense with another under-appreciated display.
Michael Bennett had another sack. Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas got the picks. All three must be re-signed in the off-season at the expense of any of the current big earners.
I’m not sure it’s the best time for a short week and a trip to 3-3 Arizona, but there’s a crucial two game stretch coming up against NFC West rivals. They’ll need to clean it up big time to be 7-1 when they return to Century Link to face Tampa Bay at the start of November.