Instant reaction: Seahawks beat Washington 27-17, go to 3-1

Bruce Irvin excelled on Monday Night Football

One of Pete Carroll’s principle concepts is to avoid giving up explosive plays. If you take away chunk-yardage you can play effective bend-but-don’t-break defense.

This game had blow-out potential at 17-0. Two explosive plays from DeSean Jackson made it a contest.

Seattle dominated on offense early, strangled Washington’s run attack and bossed the field position battle on special teams. This should’ve been an easy coast on the east coast, but wasn’t because of two plays.

OK — it wasn’t the only reason. Seattle were poor on third down (again) and they gave up a ton of penalties (again). The third down issue is on Seattle. For some reason, despite having all the necessary talent to excel in short and long situations, they consistently struggle in this area. Russell Wilson had another sensational performance (running and throwing) and certainly shouldn’t be criticised. Yet if he’s to ever to be universally accepted among the games elite, he has to convert more on third down. The Seahawks were 5/14 (35%) on third down tonight.

In terms of the penalties, this was a horror show. The officials threw far too many flags. Percy Harvin, unbelievably, had three touchdowns called back. One was a legit foul — a holding call by James Carpenter. The other two? Incredible. Carpenter was called for unnecessary roughness for finishing a block, chalking off a deep-ball TD. Harvin stepped to the inside pre-snap to negate another catch and run. This wasn’t just nitpicking, it was bad officiating.

Seattle totalled 13 penalties for 90 yards compared to Washington’s three flags. Some were fair. Russell Okung — who’s clearly not 100% after that shoulder injury against Denver — had a poor night and received multiple flags. Others were borderline or bordering on the ridiculous.

To make matters worse, Pierre Garcon wasn’t flagged for 1.) yanking Richard Sherman by the hair and 2.) ragging Sherman to the turf by his facemask at the end of a failed third down attempt. There was no subtlety here. Just blatant, punk moves by Garcon — clearly still agitated from the last meeting between the teams.

They weren’t the only missed calls. Marshawn Lynch’s crucial catch and run on a Wilson scramble should’ve been called back late on. Russell Okung was clearly holding Brian Orakpo, while Harvin was shoved to the ground beyond the five-yard cushion. We’re talking two blatant penalties here — both missed. Both fouls should’ve been called, offset and the down replayed.

Despite the issues with penalties and third downs — not completely unexpected coming off an early bye — Seattle is 3-1. With no remaining unbeaten teams in the NFL, only the bye prevents the Seahawks sharing the best record in the league.

Here’s the notes…

— The two big plays to Jackson aside, this was a totally dominating defensive performance. Bobby Wagner excelled in coverage, he picked up a sack and made numerous key tackles. Bruce Irvin regularly set the edge against the run, blowing up four run plays against the over-matched tight end Niles Paul. Kevin Williams and Brandon Mebane were both sensational — this partnership continues to develop with each week. Williams in particular is starting to look like a key addition for the run defense. Washington had 32 net rushing yards in the game.

— The defense deserves a bit more fortune. In the first four games they’ve had multiple close calls on turnovers. Tonight — K.J. Wright forced a fumble (recovered by Washington), Earl Thomas dropped an interception and Wagner came close to snaring a pick jumping a route over the middle. Despite their dominance, Seattle failed to force a turnover tonight and had only one sack.

— As noted earlier, Okung doesn’t look right. When he went down against Denver he was in serious pain, only to return for the second half (somewhat surprisingly). With Alvin Bailey also injured, it’s possible he played through the pain here. A healthy Okung is one of the better left tackles in the game. The problem is he’s been consistently unhealthy ever since he entered the league. He has one year left on his contract with a modest 2015 cap hit worth $7.28m. I’m not sure they’ll cut ties after this year, but he’s unlikely to warrant an extension in the off-season. And with a good crop of offensive tackles likely turning pro they could consider drafting a long term replacement.

— Byron Maxwell appeared tentative all night. He might be the most opportunistic defensive back Seattle has, but he’s also more technique than physical brilliance. He will have games like this.

— Jackson’s 60-yard touchdown came on the exact same concept that led to Denver’s game-tying drive in week three. Seattle has to keep working to fix this — they can’t keep getting caught on a little wheel to the outside with a receiver running a post to draw the coverage.

— This was yet another game where Seattle didn’t really challenge with the deep ball. It was particularly surprising against an exposed, young secondary missing its top corner. Seattle is keeping everything tight and compact. A lot of runs (expected), some read option. Harvin motions a lot and gets used in bubble screens. I’m not a coach or an offensive coordinator, but to the untrained eye you can’t help but question whether a few deep shots would help open up the short game? Seattle has the speed to test any secondary deep. Is this deliberate through the early weeks to keep it off tape?

— It sound crazy, but Wilson’s creativity is so completely underrated. There were many examples in this game where an immobile, traditional pocket passer would just be flattened for a big loss. Wilson’s ability to extend plays, improvise and run when needed is crucial to combat the extra athletic advantage most teams have on defense these days. It’s simple — the best athletes in college play defense. That’s filtered through to the pro’s now. Nearly every team faces a weekly battle matching up offensive linemen against superior athletes. You need a mobile quarterback — unless you have a future Hall-of-Fame type player (Manning, Brady).

Lest we forget (check the date of the tweet)…

— There will never be another Marshawn Lynch. Simple as that. He is totally unique. It’s annoying to hear college players compared to Lynch. Jon Gruden asked, “Will he be a Seahawk next year?” He has to be, unless he decides to retire. He is miscast as a big-back with great size. He isn’t. He’s tough as hell but he’s not ‘big’. Not like Todd Gurley, who has about 10lbs on Lynch. You cannot teach a running back to play like this. It’s natural and distinctive, unique only to Marshawn. Gurley could be a top-15 pick next year but nobody should compare him to Lynch. They’re totally different players. Seattle doesn’t need Beast Mode to run the ball effectively, but they’ll be significantly weaker on the day Lynch hangs up his cleats.

— The Seahawks take on Dallas (4-1) at Century Link next weekend, a game I will be attending.


  1. chris

    seems like opponents have figured out bevell’s play calling in regards to percy harvin. its time for bevell to start getting harvin more touches on some regular routes. and quit relying on these gimmick plays to get harvin the ball.

    • AlaskaHawk

      Agreed. The Seahawks remind me of an expensive italian sports car. You can drive 250 mph when everything works, but when it doesn’t work there are motor parts flying off in all directions.

      What happened to Richardson and Harvin stretching the field?

  2. CC

    Some awful offensive line play for sure – but come on refs – they totally called it as a one sided game! It seems like the bye weeks usually leads to a share of challenges for this team. But a win is a win is a win. Nice that Marshawn was able to play – he is amazing! I felt a bit bad for Percy – he made some great plays and the penalties called them all back. And how about our ginger Jon Ryan!!??? Heck of a day punting and that fake FG was sweet!

    Lockette’s gunner work had the WA punt returner scared.

    In the end, we don’t need this team peaking in September, October or November – and that doesn’t seem to be the case.

    I expect a much better game against a tougher Dallas team.

  3. Horacio

    Enjoy the game next week! Should be a good one for the Hawks!

  4. Mylegacy

    The hair and face mask pulling by Garcon on Sherman were both outrageous. Okung is clearly hurt or losing his mind. Harvin had three TD’s called back – I’ve never seen one guy have three called back. Carpenter is having his best year BUT – what’s with the penalties. I’m falling in love with Burley. Lynch is without doubt a unique talent. The OLine needs Miller back and Britt to develop even faster.

    Wilson deserves to have a paragraph just about him. Perhaps a chapter – what the heck – a whole book!

    Clearly, we are a certain team now, will become a different team as we switch to more long passes and then we’ll play the last 6 or so games with the other teams defense not having a clue what will be coming at them. Our offense will slowly build all season towards a crescendo where every instrument will be perfectly tuned and playing the sweetest music the north west has ever heard.

    Shuda been a laugher, woulda been a laugher; at least, thank the gods – it’s a win!

  5. JeffC

    I’ve been down on Bruce Irvin all season, but if he plays like that…then he redeems himself in my eyes.

    The NFL really should consider the quality of the game as it’s been taken over by the refs. We watch the game to see the amazing athletic ability of guys like Harvin, not to see refs take points off the board and have no consistency whatsoever. The phantom calls vs the no calls at the end? Baffling.

    I was certain Lynch would be gone after this season. Now I can’t see this team living without him. Turbin just will never be a feature back. That last td Lynch caught, Turbin goes down at the first touch by the defender.

    This is not a super bowl winning team at this point. Fortunately, we’re 3-1 and can become one again.

    • CC

      Irvin seems to quietly play solid games. I think our expectations were so high for him that it has been hard for him to live up to it. Even last year – he played solid, maybe not great. He hasn’t made big mistakes and that helps.

  6. Colin

    I thought Cousins, for as much hype as he’s received, was incredibly average. The Redskins spent the better part of the 1st half protecting him- running the ball, playaction, moving the pocket. He was okay, nothing special at all. The two bombs to Jackson were good fortune, but hardly the mark of someone taking advantage of a defense. The 1st was a clear blown coverage and the second was a great throw and catch. Outside of that Washington looked totally outclassed.

    This is not the first time Jeff Triplette has performed terribly. He’s consistently one of the worst Ref’s in football. Negating the last 2 TD’s on Harvin was just absurd. Can’t wait for the NFL to spin this one.

    • CC

      2 plays made him look really good. One was bad coverage breakdown – how do you switch Kam to take Jackson on a deep route… and then one really great pass and catch – where Maxwell played it pretty well.

    • AlaskaHawk

      I thought Cousins threw a nice deep ball, the receiver never broke stride on the two long TDs. Lets give him some credit for a decent performance.

    • Kenny Sloth

      I thought the deep bomb to Jackson was Cousins very obviously taking advantage of the defense. Sherman likes to bait and rob the inside route in a verticals concept. Kam had curl responsibility.
      Cousins ain’t stupid. He’s done tape study on Sherman and they designed this play based on that natural weakness and Sherman’s tendencies to play it a certain way.

  7. OHawk

    Games like this is why everyone loves to blame the refs for everything. I mean they completely crapped the bed this game.

    I have a feeling Harvin is going to have a big game next week after getting screwed out of those TDs. That has to go down as one of the best performances that never officially happened.

    Russell Wilson keeps playing at this level and he has a shot at MVP. Wagner should also be up for DPOY if we keep shutting down the run like this. Whatever awards they got for special teams Jon Ryan and Ricardo Lockette should win all of them.

    The secondary isn’t playing at the level of last year and to my untrained eye it seems they’re jamming receivers less and giving them more of a cushion.

    My biggest issue this game isn’t the O-line (I put a lot of he penalties on the refs and Washington has a great pass rush), but going into prevent on that last Washington drive. Way to much time left and not up by at least 17 don’t like it.

  8. PatrickH

    I agreed that Lynch is a unique player. Not only as a runner but also as a receiver. On the last TD, he broke the tackle and stayed on his feet to get into the endzone. If it had been Turbin, he probably would have been tackled there short of the endzone.

    Sherman made a dumb mistake on the DeSean Jackson TD. Why follow the tight end inside when Jackson was heading outside and could be making (and did make) a double move?

    I thought the special team played very well tonight. The combination of Ryan’s punting and Lockette’s gunning forced the punt returner to keep calling for fair catches. Also, a gutsy call and great execution on the fake field goal.

    • Rob Staton

      The scheme dictates Sherman to pass that receiver off. It’s an issue Seattle has. Against Denver they were passing off the WR from corner inside. They haven’t fixed that play.

      • Bruce M.

        I think that’s right, and I also think that is a scheme deficiency–no way you should be passing off a 4.35 40 X receiver running a streak route to a strong safety, Kam or anybody else.

  9. Forrest

    Other than the o-line looking horrendous, and refs wearing drunk goggles, the game looked really good for the most part…

    I agree about the deep ball throwing, I think that they will keep playing offense like this until ST Louis, then they’ll open up…

    Special teams looks excelent!

    Defense does look weaker than last year, but I think they’ll explode with some turnovers soon…maybe next week!

  10. Michael M.

    I’m not worried about the big plays to DeSean Jackson. That is exactly the type of player that has been able to have success against the LOB. I was actually expecting a decent night from Jackson (though I’d hoped it wouldn’t be that good), and now I wouldn’t expect to see a WR do that to us again all season.

    Our corners are going to struggle with elite speed. That’s just part of the deal. But how many more guys are we going to face with D-Jack type speed this season? I could see that little guy in AZ giving us some fits, and maybe Odell Beckham, but that’s pretty much it, and those guys are both rookies, so they won’t be nearly as savvy as Jackson. I would be shocked if another receiver had this type of game against the ‘Hawks this season.

  11. kigenzun

    91,000 people in the stands. The entire nation watching on TV. The RacialSlurs already 1 and 3… and fixing to go down 21-0 early…

    This would have been another 35 point laugh-er if not for the blatantly obvious, bad officiating. The last one against Carpenter, (on Harvin’s 3rd TD) was ridiculous. Since when is a pancake block a personal foul penalty? A “head-bob” on a Center making line calls first, and sure of the target on a shotgun snap second=2 phantom false starts?? Three TD’s called back??? C’Mon Ref!

    Its a W, sure… but what we all collectively learned is the exact difference between the best team in the league and the worst team in the league… a dozen or so extra yellow hankies.

  12. Jeriod Klovas

    Hey Rob what do you think of Shaq Thompson? He is a very opportunistic defender with great measurables. Is he a 1st round talent in your opinion?

    • Rob Staton

      Top-20 pick.

  13. mattk

    Rob – Regarding the keep Russel Okung but draft his replacement approach, can you recall any recent history of drafting a left tackle in the early rounds and start him at (left) guard before he moves to the outside (besides Greg Robinson, a top-5 athletic freak)?

    I’d like to see Seattle find a legit left tackle to groom into a starting role, but could we see Seattle spend their first or second round pick on a bench player or do you think it’d be more of a mid-round selection?

    • Rob Staton

      I’m sure there are some examples. Personally I hope they find a way to retain Carpenter. I think ideally if they did go down this route they could redshirt a guy under the guise of ‘competition’.

  14. Hawkspur

    Have fun next week! It’ll be interesting to see our run D against the so-far-impressive Dallas O-line and DeMarco Murray.

  15. Mylegacy

    Now that I’ve slept, and am mostly sober…on further reflection…with the memories of the flags flying in the autumn air receding… that was one sob of a dominating game by us! Seriously, we are outstanding on both sides of the ball. We can lose, beat ourselves, but we’ll hardly ever get bettered – sometimes however, we’ll just run out of time.

    We really should be the favorites to win the SB – clearly we’re an amazing force.

  16. AlaskaHawk

    I’m going to harp a little on our offensive line play on passes. My impression is that Britt was the only one to have a decent game. Okung not only has a shoulder injury, but his feet look slow. He was having a hard time keeping up with the edge rushers. Half the penalties were on Okung. Carpenter let a few guys come right up the middle untouched. Two of the penalties were on him. Unger just seems like he is playing at 90% level. Sweezy and Unger had a hard time with defensive line stunts and let a few guys threw untouched. Britt had a decent game and has the quickness to stick with the edge rusher. The result of all that was another game where Russell Wilson is running for his life. Fortunately he took off early and made some great plays.

    Another thing I can’t figure out is why we can’t draft a quality backup for Marshawn Lynch. PC said it would be running back by committee this year, but it’s been two years during which no other running back has emerged. Sure they all show great promise and speed, but they AREN”T PLAYING. They aren’t even in the game. Instead we use Percy Harvin as our second back. Really???? Great player but how long do you think he will last. Here’s an idea. Use Percy Harvin as a deep receiver. For that matter where are the deep receivers? Did Richardson even play last night? Basically the Seahawks have whiffed on drafting quality running backs and deep threat wide receivers.

    Thank goodness we have Russell Wilson. It is clear from last night that he saved the game behind a dubious offensive line. Great scrambles, great throws. Several drops by one of my favorite receivers. Good game RW. And good game Lynch and Harvin.

    Oh yes, and the officiating sucked!!!!!! Glad I didn’t have Harvin in a fantasy league.

    • CC

      I agree with you. If Turbo and C-Mike are expected to take over for Marshawn, our future running game is in trouble. Turbin cannot seem to break a tackle unless in lots of space and then often goes down after the first hit. I can only imagine that the coaches are not happy with C-Mike as he is rarely active. For all the talk of less carries for Marshawn this year – I doubt we can afford to let him take many plays off. Marshawn is still one of the best RBs and is impossible to tackle.

      • AlaskaHawk

        The most puzzling part is that running backs are easy to find. If you don’t like the ones we got – go get two more. I’m sure there are a number of undrafted players sitting by their phones.

        • Beanhawk

          Are you saying any running back of the street could replace Marshawn and/or his production by this inconsistent offensive line?

          I don’t know how we can make any comment on C-Mike (and perhaps Turbin) given the condition of our line. Are they Marshawn Lynch? Absolutely not, but I believe Lynch and Adrian Peterson are a cut above every other back in football. That’s difficult to replace.

    • cha

      One thing I wonder with Okung is how much did he play due to Bailey being inactive for the game? He looked like he was really struggling and camera shots of his face showed a pretty decent amount of anguish/frustration.

      I think more than a couple instances of bad OL play were actually RW’s fault for not recognizing the defense and checking to another play/protection scheme. That’s a pure observational point with nothing to back that up. Maybe a smarter football mind than me can substantiate that was the case or not.

      I have a strong sense that the Hawks are playing the ‘long game’ with the offense and the lack of deep throws. Establishing the short pieces of the game that drive defenses crazy (the Percy sweep, the RW bootleg option and the Lynch short out pass) and letting D Coordinators stay up nights figuring ways to slow it down. Keeping a couple tricks in their back pocket for deep throws at crucial times later in the year as they open up.

      Alaska, I don’t want to pick on you as I’ve heard the ‘why isn’t Harvin being sent deep’ from a lot of people. But his main talent lies in exactly the way the Hawks are using him, getting the ball at or near the LOS and making people miss – witness the 2 consecutive TDs. That’s lightning in a bottle. Anytime he’s used as a deep threat is icing on the cake.

      • AlaskaHawk

        I think Harvin is talented in a lot of different ways. I admire him for that. However, since the sweep and bubble screen was used in our superbowl win (I can’t say that enough), and since we became champions of the galaxy (or say that enough), at least half the teams have incorporated it into their offense. Defenses are also scheming for it and finding ways to counter it.

        Harvin is talented in so many ways. It is cool that he can get the ball near the LOS and make people miss. But it is also cool when he runs a deeper route where he only has to make a corner and safety miss. That is a lot easier then having to run through half the defense. At the end of the day Lynch is built to run through the defense, Harvin is built to avoid and outrun the defense. Even if you really believe we need that quick guy at the LOS, why can’t any of our backup running backs do it? Are we so devoid of talent that we can’t use someone else? What about Walters, he is doing great at kick returns, why not a few slants and screens?

        • cha

          I think it probably boils down to frustration about why the offense isn’t taking more downfield shots. The top Hawks WRs are all capable of making downfield catches – Lockette, Baldwin, Richardson, Harvin, even Willson has been effectively used as a 10+ air pass weapon.

          The question is why? Is it particularly schemed or is RW checking out of them? I don’t have those answers.

  17. bigDhawk

    Great thoughts as always, Rob, this one especially: “This should’ve been an easy coast on the east coast…”. That might be the one-liner of the year.

    As far as the deep throws, or lack thereof, we did have a couple – the bomb to Helfet and the TD that wasn’t to Percy. I think Russ was just too busy running the ball down their throat on option keepers to throw it deep much. That’s what the defense gave us last night and I’m glad to see we finally took it.

    Also I’ll add a bullet point about Luke Willson. How he would perform in replacement of Miller was a talking point for this game. With the exception of one bad drop early, I thought he played admirably, especially sealing the edge on a lot of those keepers by Russ. Luke had a good game.

  18. Jarhead

    So Rob as far as our drafting the last two years, some players are showing some promise. Britt looks like he is a legit solid playe

    • Jarhead

      Oops… player for yeara to come. Jordan Hill is coming on in run support. Luke Willson is becoming more utilized weapon. Maybe one or two others that I can’t recall. But seriously there are so many really wasted opportunities. I am not trying to beat a dead horse but Rickardson has contributed next to nothing despite other members of his draft group already really being solid, and Michael has been an absolute waste. I know that I have always been an avid detractor for him, but what has he done at all? Brian Walters is returning punts. Brian Walters. And Michael is supposedly the greatest SPARQ of all time. Especially when we could have easily drafted Eddie Lacy wth little effort to make a move up. And we left players on the board to get Richardson. Could we not have put together a package for Kelvin Benjamin and still nabbed Britt later? What I want to hear from you, is this is something that has become fundamentally concerning? The Patriots have a dearth of weapons because of their inability to draft skill players well and their penchant for getting cute in the draft. How many more of these whiffs can we survive before it begins to undermind the team?

      • cha

        I have to wonder if PC is keeping the younger players off the field as a redshirt type exercise, even though the Hawks are 3-1 there have been some close games. I really would like to see Michael and Richardson get some snaps and add a dash of explosion. Now that we’ve established some variation on offense, let’s show the defense a different look.

    • AlaskaHawk

      In some ways drafting is a numbers game. Unfortunately for us our first picks (with the exception of Earl Thomas) have either been average, injured, or not playing significant time. PC reputation for drafting has largely been built on his mid to later round choices and some good free agent pickups.

      I’m real curious to hear from Rob on this one.

    • Rob Staton

      The best praise we can give Britt so far is he’s not been a negative factor. He’s getting his job done in a very difficult situation (starting as a rookie). Assuming he continues to progress, this is a very positive first four games.

  19. Madmark

    Ya the refs missed a few calls like hair pull and the facemask. They also miss called the carpenter laying on the DL to keep him out of the play which happens all the time. A Unger head bob and a questionable illegal motion by Harvin but as for the holdings and false starts they were Seattle just shooting themselves in the foot again. The OL looks good in run blocking but still have problems with the pass rush and especially when the other team blitz. Everyone says Okung a good LT but its my honest opinion that he has been healthy enough to warrant 7.8 million dollars in his career so far.
    I can only think of 1 running back that ran like Lynch and that would be an Earl Campbell and his career didn’t last that long.
    If this game had happened to us against any of our rivals I’m sure it would have been a loss. They had an opportunity to end this game quick and they allowed the other team back in to it. Its my opinion that Seattle can beat every team in the league including themselves.

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