Instant reaction: Seahawks hand Cardinals second loss, go to 7-4

This was a thoroughly comprehensive 19-3 victory that feels closer than it was.

Both teams left points on the board, but Seattle emphatically so. They dominated the field position battle in the first half and kept settling for three points. The red zone troubles reared up once more. But it didn’t matter. Everything else clicked.

The Seahawks played a 9-1 team today fielding an exceptional run defense and an athletic, playmaking secondary. This was a fantastic win.

— Russell Wilson was superb today. You don’t need to put up 400 yards to be praised as a quarterback. He was efficient. He never came close to conceding a turnover — an underrated key to the win. He was intelligent with the ball (the eye manipulation on the Ricardo Lockette bomb was exceptional) and made enough plays to win a game his team had to have.

— The defense played at a 2013 level. Drew Stanton isn’t a good quarterback and Bruce Arians deserves a medal for getting this team to nine wins with the injuries they’ve endured. Yet this is still a Cardinals team that has been making big plays all year. Not today. Their biggest play was a pass interference call on Byron Maxwell. They had one drive at the end of the first half where they chipped away and got their only points on a field goal. The Cardinals had 204 total offensive yards and went 3/12 on third down. This was a complete shut down — no running room, no big plays. Seattle football.

— If the pass rush plays with this intensity and productivity the rest of the way, the Seahawks can take on a rock hard schedule. Stanton was constantly under pressure and did well to avoid a few sacks. Cliff Avril had possibly his best game this season. Bruce Irvin and Michael Bennett also got involved. Seattle came into the day ranked 29th for sacks. They need this level of play to finish the year.

— There was too much focus on Brandon Mebane’s absence last week at Kansas City. He was a key loss. But the bigger issue was the absence of Mebane AND Bobby Wagner. They didn’t clog up the middle of the defensive line or absorb many blocks. But too often K.J. Wright and Malcolm Smith made a bad read or didn’t wrap up filling the gaps. Arizona hasn’t run the ball particularly well recently, but Wagner’s return helped limit them to 64 total running yards.

— Kam Chancellor and Byron Maxwell appear to be healthy. Throw in Wagner’s return and it’s no surprise that for the first time in a long time, the defense is back to its best.

— Last year the Seahawks were beaten at home by Arizona. They took shots on offense and tried to beat the blitz by exploiting 1v1 coverage. Today they went away from that — and it was a solid gameplan. Early throws behind the LOS opened up the middle for the tight ends. They made safe throws and never allowed a big-play defense to do anything at the second level. Yes — there were frustrating moments in the red zone. No — I’m not saying it was a flawless performance. They left points on the field. But think about this — with a cleaner red zone effort this could’ve been a blow out. The offensive plan worked and they learnt lessons from the last meeting between the teams.

— That said, the Seahawks still need to find an answer in the red zone with the personnel they have. Today they went 1/5. It’s been a constant thorn in the offense all season. Today it didn’t cost them a victory. Last week it did. In the three remaining road games (San Francisco, Philadelphia, Arizona) they will need to make every point count.

— What play did you enjoy more? Cooper Helfet’s touchdown leap, or the body slam after the blocked punt to start the second half? And is this a sign of things to come for the offense (this year and beyond)? Helfet, Tony Moeaki and Luke Willson had more attention than the receivers. You have to wonder if they’d have done more of this earlier with a healthy Zach Miller and Anthony McCoy?

— Seattle gave up seven sacks but let’s have some perspective. Firstly, that was a heck of a defensive line they came up against today. Secondly, some of the sacks were scheme issues or receivers just not getting open. The fourth sack by Calais Campbell came as Seattle tried to set up a long winded screen to Marshawn Lynch. You can’t do that against this defense. The fifth sack, on the very next play, saw Wilson in a clean pocket taking a coverage sack. The offensive line didn’t have a brilliant game — they were unusually ineffective in the run game. But neither is this performance worthy of three days talking about drafting for the OL in round one. They missed Max Unger at center.

— Marshawn Lynch was in and out of the game today. Let’s hope this isn’t a big issue. He’ll be needed.

— My draft takeaway today is — do we have to focus so much on SPARQ? Having watched Jarvis Landry for Miami today — there is still room for good old eye scouting. He looked sensational at LSU. He is sensational. Ultra competitive, a fantastic technician and exactly the kind of player Seattle needed to replace Golden Tate.

Here’s the lasting image from today — a tired Calais Campbell on the sidelines with three minutes to go. He’s out of the game. He and his team resigned to defeat. Meanwhile Drew Stanton is getting looked at for an ankle injury and Logan Thomas is warming up. Last year teams came to Seattle to get beaten up. They nearly always lost their next game as a consequence. This, as they say, ‘was more like it’.

Onto San Francisco. Both teams are 7-4. Arizona goes to Atlanta next week. Game on.


  1. JeffC

    For me it was the best game of the year. Better than Green Bay, better than Denver. I have no complaints because Arizona is a total quality opponent. Russell had his best game of the year. Really played under control and made every big play. Lynch may not have the stats today but that dude is the toughest man in the nfl. As for the defense, awesome performance we are accustomed to seeing.

    • Arias

      That was the defense that we’ve been missing all year. Their tackling was especially ferocious whether it was Kam wrapping up a guy in the backfield or Earl flying out of nowhere to nail the receiver to the ground that had just caught a screen. The LOB had a signature performance that’s been missing far too often this season. Kam looked healthier than he had all year and it showed on the field. Good tackling is infectious it seems.

  2. rowdy

    It felt so good to see the d play at a elite level for the whole game!! It was also nice to see wilson trust norwood with a deep pass. He didn’t catch it but wilson doest do that much, hopefully it’s a sign of things to come.

    • Barry

      I think if he makes that play (Norwood) that’s a launching platform for his confidence and Wilson’s in him. I think we might see it here next week. He’s close.

  3. David M

    Felt so good to see the d look like the 2013 D we were so used to seeing. A healthy Kam & bobby back is very very important to this defense.

    • Barry

      Very nice indeed, and nice to see Kam playing like thunder in a bottle again. I have missed it.

  4. CC

    I had to bring out my lucky Marshawn shirt – wore it through the playoffs last year and pulled it out early, because this was a must win game.

    The team was ready to play, good intensity, some adjustments made and a really big win! Offensive line still scares me, but Russell made plays when he needed too and just seemed to be in control today!

    Maxwell could have had a couple more picks if he was a bit more focused.

    Staton is an okay QB but now that the teams have some film on him, it could affect his ability to do as well going forward.

    Happy with a win!

  5. Cysco

    Amazing game all around.

    I for one would love to see continued use of the TE in the passing game. Let’s hope they keep that up in the coming weeks.

    Talk about knowing someone is going to be gook by the eye test, Odel Beckham Jr. just made the catch of the century. He was one of the players that many of us pointed at as being seriously good. He’s showing it.

    If the Hawks play like they did today, on turkey day, that game could be a blow out. Hopefully this was a sign of the team turning the corner.

    Go Hawks.

    • JeffC

      If they play on Thursday like they did today they beat sf road game or not.

    • Arias

      The only thing that worries me is we remember what happened the last time they were forced to deal with a short week. Coming off that Monday night game in Washington they didn’t make the flight back till the next morning, can’t remember the exact reason for the delay but that have them really only three days to prepare for dallas in what turned out to be their flattest performance of the year and it happened at home.

      There should be no lack of urgency this time even though it roll be in Santa Clara.

      • Rob Staton

        I think they underestimated Dallas. At least we know they won’t underestimate San Fran.

      • JeffC

        I’m hoping this impacts SF more than us, being their home game. If the schedule had turned around and this was a home game on 3 days rest for us, I’d really be worried. We can’t seem to ever beat SF in SF, but this may be the right conditions to do so.

        • rugby lock

          But now we’re playing SC in SC 🙂

  6. Jarhead

    You hit the nail on the head Rob. That is why I hate the terms “SPARQ demon” and “Seahawky”. How about we just go out and get some good football players? Helfet was sitting on the PS and Moeaki has already made a huge impact. We need good football players. Plain and simple. The SPARQyiest player on the damn team didn’t play a single snap! I say we just start using brains and eyeballs and get some guys who can go out on a football field and make plays. I saw great football today and hopefully this is an indication that we actually WILL be able to sustain the high level of play that we have shown over the previous two seasons

    • Davison Phipps

      Yep, the biggest hits for Pete and John in the draft haven’t really been the guys who stood out due to their athleticism: Thomas, Chancellor, Sherman, Wright, Wagner.

      • Barry

        Two are all for their positions (Sherm, KJ) and the other two destroyed personal workouts (ET and Bobbie).

        • Barry

          *Tall not all

        • JeffC

          No problem here with their late round picks, and perhaps late round picks should be more SPARQ centered. But the first and second round picks, they really need to evaluate their process and objectively ask whether their method is the most effective.

          This past draft is turning into one of those drafts where you had impact players everywhere. It is distressing that some of the highlighted players who started to get hyped from Rob’s evaluation (and I peruse lots of football sites and I swear Rob was the first who started pushing Bitonio, for example) are having immediate impact and look to be stalwarts going forward.

          Paul Richardson may end up being a good player. But at the time, did he really meet a perceived need? I think some of our recent mid season moves are desperate moves by the front office seeing no red zone options that could have been handled with better creativity with their early picks. Or how would a bitonio have looked at RT? LG? LT when Okung was hurt?

          I trust JS and PC because they gave us our sb trophy, but they are certainly not infallible and the early pick issues have turned into a consistent pattern of underwhelm. This needs to change if their ten year plan of constant sb contention is going to work.

    • Barry

      For a team that has struggled in the Redzone Helfet has made two big athletic plays. He better get more time period
      Oh and the put block tackle from him was awesome to see.

  7. Cysco

    P-Rich. I wonder how he would be performing if he were on a team like the Giants or Dolphins. Is his lack of production due to the situation/team/scheme/whatever, or is it lack of talent/ability/etc. Or, to put it another way, if Jarvis Landry were on the Seahawks would he be doing anything more than what Richardson is?

    • Rob Staton

      Good question.

      • Adog

        I saw one play on paticular on play action where Richardson was on a deep fly route. It looked to me that had his guy beat as well as the safety coming over the top as long Wilson could have hit him in stride. Wilson checked down to another reciever once he saw the safety commit. I would have liked to see him throw that to Richardson.

        • Arias

          But we also saw what happened when Lockette looked to have his guy beat over the top on that deep go route. Problem was the defender he looked to have beat happened to be Patrick Peterson who immediately turned on the jets upon Wilson taking the downfield shot. So what looked like a touchdown against any other defender turned into one of those pass defensed that only PP had the athleticism and recovery speed to make a successful play on the ball. Seeing how Richardson has similar top end speed as Lockette (even though pritch can accelerate to his high end speed just a tiny bit faster than Ricardo from what I understand) I don’t think it would have made much difference if it were Richardson running that route with PP covering him.

    • Arias

      Thing is that Jarvis is really a similar receiver to Norwood except Norwood has three inches on him, is significantly faster, and has more powerful lower body explosiveness based on clearly superior broad jump and vertical than Landry. I see no reason Norwood wouldn’t every bit as effective as Landry if he’d been given similar opportunity. Landry has had the benefit of playing in every game this year as the starting slot receiver and there’s really no doubt that if the seahawks had drafted Landry in Norwood’s spot he’d be rotting on the bench save 10 snaps a game like Norwood is right now since he’d be seen as having a redundant (while less proven) skill set to Baldwin and Kearse. He’s played in 57% of MiamI’s offensive snaps and given five and a half targets a game on average from Tannehill which he’s been terrific at making the most of. His catch rate hovers at close to 80%, good for third best catch rate in the league for receivers that have played in more than 50% of their offensive snaps.

      Compare that to Norwood who only got on the field after Percy left and had only gotten in on 16.7% of the offensive snaps and of the snaps he had played (not counting the game yesterday) he’d only gotten targeted 4 times and caught every ball thrown his way. But that’s less than once a game that he’s even targeted by Wilson!

      I realize Landry was a second round pick so had he been drafted in Richardson’s spot he’d be taking Richardson’s minutes and not Norwood’s. I’d guess that Landry probably would be more productive than PRich has been so far but then again I believe Norwood would as well if given as much playing time as pritch is getting now, which is closer to 40 snaps a game as opposed to averaging 10 while Percy was still here.

      I just think they’re vastly under utilizing Norwood right now and he offers the most immediate solution to what they’re looking for if he’s just given more opportunity. But since there’s no obvious candidate whose minutes and looks would be surrendered at the expense of increasing Norwood’s snap count it might be too much to expect his role will expand this year. Too much invaluable time needed to develop rapport through reps was wasted this year trying in vain to integrate Percy into this offense.

      • Rob Staton

        Everything you say is true — Norwood is bigger and faster and more athletic. But I think Landry was pro-ready in a way most receivers are not. And I think he could’ve picked up the slack immediately left by Tate’s departure. He is a superb player. Norwood was a chunk yard specialist who made the most of his 2-3 targets a game at Alabama. Landry, along with Odell Beckham Jr, was the heart and soul for LSU. Some of the catches he made last year were incredible. I think he could’ve had a 700 yard rookie season in this offense, much like Baldwin did in 2011.

    • Mark

      One thing I’ve been thinking about recently… Until Wilson is willing to throw 20 INTs in a season, the receivers won’t be what we want them to be. What I mean is that Wilson goes to the extreme to protect the football. All the most talked about QB-WRs will take a chance on a 50-50 play.

      • neil

        agreed he is loath to make mistakes, but you can carry that to far. H e needs to take more shots when the team is on the 50 or closer.

        • Radman

          One of the most difficult things with a post hoc draft analysis is to figure out how a given player would fit into a given team’s scheme, vs another team’s scheme. I think this is especially true for WRs

          I really liked Keenan Allen in the draft. I also really liked Cordarrelle Patterson. But we’ve no way of knowing how either would do in this system, how he’d respond to RW, the coaches, opportunities, plays, etc. We’re left with some educated conjecture, but that’s about it.

          There seems to be a lot of chemistry involved in QB/WR fit, layered on top of scheme fit, coaching, etc. This seems more so for any other position but for QB.

          One issue I always run into is really liking some power run guards in the draft, but then reminding myself they don’t fit what they do (but then I wonder why in the heck they drafted Carp….but I suspect they wonder that themselves despite public comments otherwise).

          I think in general the FO has earned some leeway in the draft, but also some criticism with regards to some position groups. They’ve just not surrounded RW with much talent via the draft.

        • Rob Staton

          I’m almost certain he’s been coached since day one in Seattle not to take risks. Carroll is a defensive coach. Nearly every defensive coach in the league just doesn’t want his QB to turn the ball over.

  8. Ed

    Two things Rob.

    1. The D looks so much better with Wagner. The D is getting healthy (still need a better inside pass rush).

    2. I know we disagree, but Bevell is terrible. I know AZ has a great D, but the playcalling is predictable. If we are a running team, let’s get some I, pro, near, far sets to run out of. Enough with the Oregon Duck offense, it’s too easy to stop (another reason our RZ offense is terrible). There is no ingenuity. He doesn’t create scheme problems.

    • Cysco

      hard to create scheme problems when your talent level at the skill positions is as bad as Seattle’s is. You can’t make mismatches when your #1 receiver is a 5’10 undrafted free agent. Seattle’s receiving and TE group is just not good. It’s something that needs serious attention next year.

      • Ed

        That’s why we need better schemes. Our offense is very predictable. We get bubble screens, or 5 step drops with 10+ yd patterns that take too long to materialize because our line is subpar.

        While I agree we need more talent, you don’t need Calvin and Dez to have a successful passing game. You need ingenuity. Motion, crosses, double moves, quick slants/outs. That actually happened today on the TD drive. Lockette came across the middle (against the flow) on a deep drag which allowed him to get open. Otherwise, it’s very elementary.

    • Rob Staton

      I thought the playcalling was unpredictable. Set them up with some bubble screens to work the middle. Used the TE’s a lot. Didn’t just take 1v1 shots like we (or at least I) expected. If we execute better in the red zone this is a blow out. And Arizona aren’t 9-1 because they’ve had to start Stanton & Logan Thomas. And Bevell is as hindered by the lack of big play WR’s/TE’s as Russell Wilson.

    • Barry

      I think Bevell is a smart patient play caller that trust his D and knows how to set up the other team for the whole game. Or has not idea had to maximize his teams talent meaning he has no idea about the personal. I go with the former but sometimes I wonder.

  9. Cysco

    Seriously, can we get one of these? I could watch this catch on repeat for an hour. seriously, beyond impressive. Definitely the most impressive catch i’ve ever seen. Man, I wish he was a seahawk.

    • House

      OBJ is a MONSTER… I know I had a bit of a man crush on the guy and knew there was no way he’d fall to us. Man is he impressive!!!

    • Alaska Norm

      Wow…. Just wow.

    • mrpeapants

      greatest catch ive ever seen

  10. AlaskaHawk

    I had to travel today so I recorded the game. Sounds like a big improvement. I had hoped that Wagners return would help. We have to give the linebackers some love – it is a very important position. Look how well we play when we have Wagner in the middle.

    Following the comment about Sparq vs good players, it seems to me that we spend a lot of time red shirting players and working on their development. We have passed up a number of sturdy players that are contributing on other teams. I just want to see them draft solid players who can contribute right away. Not high potential projects.

  11. Dumbquestions

    Wagner, Wagner, Wagner. Evidently, PC said he might have underestimated the effect of Wagner’s absence. He solidified everything.
    Also note that Thomas has been lights out the last few weeks. Wrapping his arms instead of just blowing in on hits, making sure tackles – so much better. Overall, defense returning to health is so important. It improves the odds, and the offense doesn’t have to blow people away.
    I’m frustrated by red zone performance, too – but as Rob said, one or two plays (especially the flea-flicker to Norwood), and this would have been a smearing.

  12. JC

    Probably should note the 1-5 red zone’s fifth instance was the end of the game. 1 for 4 is still bad. 2 straight weeks a Kearse critical error cost the Hawks a red zone conversion and 4 and 7 points.

    • dean

      I can’t figure out why Kearse is getting so much playing time when he consistently makes huge mistakes and shows a lack of effort at times ie run blocking where he flat out gives up before the play is close to over. Norwood is better at this stage than Kearse and I’m not sure its close. HIs interview with Bob and Groz a couple of weeks ago was a joke too, came across as a total jerk. The hold call was ticky tacky for sure but why even put yourself in a position where they can call it when your 45 yards down the field? Even Russell looked a little pissed. He has made some specatacular plays but drops at the worst possible times are just as big.

  13. Ralphy

    The Russ Wilson pass to Lockette came towards the corner I sit in and it was amazing. From our perspective it looked like a no look Magic Johnson pass. My concern with Russell this game is he didn’t make any quick decisions. WRs were open early on quick slants the direction the blitz was coming from but he didn’t pull the trigger. He was not decisive on those plays at all and he needs to be.

    Watching these rookie WRs around the league have so much success is making it very difficult to stomach Paul Richardson. He looks lost compared to all of the other guys out there who are already succeeding weekly.

  14. CHawk Talker Eric

    Some things I’ve been thinking…

    The OL played a good game against the NFL’s #2 ranked defense, especially considering Lewis started at C. Despite the number of sacks/pressures, the pass pro held up reasonably well.

    At this point, Bailey has proven himself as a starting-caliber LG. He was lights-out with Unger next to him. But even with Lewis, he still performed as good as, or better than Carp, who I don’t see returning next season.

    Luke Willson may not be “the answer” but he continues to develop as a solid, all-around TE. In particular, his blocking has improved tremendously this season. His pass pro was particularly good vs ARI. His ability to recover from injury and remain on the active roster is crucial to a successful playoff run.

    Speaking of TE, how can you not feel good about Helfet? Hey Bevell, give the man more looks, especially in red zone double TE sets.

    Speaking of Bevell, I’m no fan but he called a good game vs. ARI.

    Ryan has elevated his game to an all-pro level. Together with Hauschka, SEA’s kicking game is as good as any in the League. Crucial to a successful playoff run.

    Bobby Wagner is as important to the defense as ET3 (or Sherm or Chancellor). If he hadn’t missed any games this season, he’d be at the top of the list for Defensive MVP.

    Jordan Hill played some nice minutes. He may not be racking up stats, but the unrelenting hustle he demonstrated at PSU is starting to show up. SEA will need his motor on the field for a successful playoff run.

    • Arias

      This being Carp’s 4th missed game I can’t see the front office offering him when he’s missed so much time and if/when he returns he’ll be auditioning for a spot on another team next year no doubt.

      That said Bailey looked solid as his replacement but yesterday was not one of his better games. He allowed 3 pressures (1 sack, 1 hit, 1 hurry) while also committing a false start penalty while we were driving deep into Arizona territory. Fortunately it didn’t end up costing us on the drive since Wilson hit Helfet on the very next play for the lone TD. I’d venture to say yesterday was when we really could have used Carp back on the lineup as Bailey’s inexperience made him the weak link of the line against the constant pressure of Campbell and their blitz.

      On the bright side, Okung was outstanding yesterday, both in pass and run blocking, might have been his best game of the season. Everyone Caldwell tried to take a go at him he successfully sealed and cock blocked. He also didn’t incur a single penalty all game for which I rejoiced.

  15. M

    Seahawks come up with a dominant win–which means they’ve dominated three of the best teams in the league…Green Bay, Denver (for 59 minutes) and now Arizona.

    The question is which team shows up for SF? We’ll find out soon enough.

    The Russell Wilson elite debate may rage on but he’s one of the most gifted playmakers in the league–under that kind of pressure (he could have been sacked well over a dozen times), is there any other quarterback who could come through like that?

    • Rob Staton

      Wilson is the perfect QB for this team and scheme. He is the ultimate point guard. Which is what Carroll wanted. Whether he’s ‘elite’ or a top five QB matters little really. He is our guy.

  16. CHawk Talker Eric

    One more thing…

    I remember scoffing when SF signed Boldin (somewhat as a response to SEA signing Harvin). That slow, aging WR, compared to one of the most dynamic players in all the League?!? Ha!

    Respect to that slow, aging WR who has proven himself to be an elite competitor. The hit that Ryan Clark laid on him would’ve put down many a tough receiver. Heck, it took the wind out of Clark. But not Boldin, who bounced off him and continued to fight for yards. A true warrior.

    Who’s laughing now?

    • Rob Staton

      Boldin was an unbelievable acquisition. An inspired trade by San Fran. Seattle would love a competitor like that right now.

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