Instant reaction: Seahawks pummel the Eagles, move to 9-4

Seattle’s biggest challenge over the next few days might be overconfidence.

They’re on a run of three demolition jobs in a row and hunting for number four. Next weekend they meet the 49ers again, facing a second opportunity to leapfrog the Arizona Cardinals for top spot in the NFC West. The Cards go to rising St. Louis.

For a while it looked like they’d have the division lead today. Kansas City had a 14-9 lead in the second half and were driving in the red zone. Alex Smith had a touchdown negated on an offensive pass interference. On the next play (third and long) he threw a hopeless interception. Arizona drove for the winning score and won 17-14. It was a huge 14-point swing. Had the Chiefs gone up 21-9, it’s hard to imagine anything but a KC victory.

The Cardinals hang on for another week at least. They might have to do it without Antonio Cromartie (Achilles). They will have to do it without Andre Ellington (IR).

Enough about what might happen, let’s talk about what did happen today.

Seattle gave up just 139 yards. The lowest number in Chip Kelly’s entire coaching career. Kelly’s previous lowest tally in Philadelphia was 200 yards exactly. This was Kelly’s Eagles’ worst offensive performance by 61 yards.

If anyone doubted whether this defense was back in the groove because they only faced Drew Stanton and Colin Kaepernick, there’s no need to worry. This was a systematic destruction of one of the league’s most explosive offenses. On average they’ve given up 169 yards a game in the last three weeks. The defeat in Kansas City was almost worth having to provoke this kind of rabid response.

The Seahawks dominated time of possession 41:56 to 18:04. They completely shut down LeSean McCoy and made a fearsome group of receivers totally anonymous. The Eagles, with all their wrinkles and ideas, had no answer. It was a total thrashing.

If there is a regret it’s that a near pick-six by Russell Wilson almost gave Philly a chance to make an unlikely comeback. Malcolm Jenkins dropped a gilt-edged opportunity to make it 24-21 and game-on with Seattle coasting in the fourth quarter. The offense left points on the board for the third game in a row. For the third game in a row, the defense made sure it wasn’t costly.

Aside from the near-pick Wilson played very well again. He improvised, he was creative. He ran effectively for one score and added two more in the air to Marshawn Lynch and Doug Baldwin. He’s playing winning football. That’s all that matters right now.

Pass-protection was at times exceptional against a prolific pass rush. Justin Britt was the only weak link. Yes, he was coming up against one of the NFL’s sack leaders in Connor Barwin. Yet too often he didn’t even disrupt his rush. People say he’s Breno Giacomini because he run blocks well and struggles against the pass. I’d recommend those people go watch Giacomini vs Mario Williams in 2012 and some of the other 1v1 battles he handled with supreme competence. Britt deserves patience as a rookie — but he’ll need to show improvement in 2015.

The receivers appeared to struggle a bit early on (Fox shows replays from the QB perspective on and off so you can get an idea who’s open) but turned up after a slow start. Baldwin had five catches on seven targets for 97 yards and a score. Jermaine Kearse had an eye-catching diving grab. Rookies Paul Richardson and Kevin Norwood both contributed. Overall Wilson spread the ball around, completing passes to ten different targets. Even so, this was another game where you were left wondering how good the offense would be with a top-tier possession receiver with size.

It was interesting to see Christine Michael (6/32) get more carries than Robert Turbin (4/7).

The pass rush is back in business and it’s mostly down to Michael Bennett. He was a revelation today. On Jordan Hill’s sack he was the one dragging blockers into the pocket to force Mark Sanchez off the spot. On multiple other plays he exploded into the backfield winning countless 1v1 match-ups. He recorded a sack himself, two tackles for a loss and a QB hit. Right now he’s playing at a level even beyond anything we saw last year. A note for Hill too — he’s really stepped up recently and is starting to show serious potential.

The secondary is healthier and potent. Byron Maxwell played well enough today to think he could be a big time free agent in the off-season. Technically brilliant, always in position. He had multiple key pass break-ups and had a sensational game. After Bennett he was possibly Seattle’s best player on defense.

So onto another meeting with the Niners, who are 7-6 after losing to Oakland today. Nobody should underestimate this team even if they are slumping out of contention. If they’re losing a few minds at the moment, nothing will re-focus San Francisco more than a trip to Seattle.

The Seahawks have to be ready to make it four crucial wins in a row.


  1. Turp

    I love having Simon outside and Max inside. Wow. Shut down coverage.

    • CC

      The Legion is back! Simon is still young, but he sure is looking good!

      • AlaskaHawk

        Simon is still a little too grabby but he usually gets away with it, nice interception for him. Maxwell was awesome knocking the ball down or tackling quickly.

  2. nolan

    Great win Russell and offense had there best game in a while

    • Michael M.


  3. Cysco

    This was another one of those frustrating wins. The defense was epic. If it keeps up like this the rest of the year, I can’t imagine who is going to stop the Seahawks.

    What was frustrating was the offense. It always seems like they’re on the cusp of blowing up but there’s always something. A silly penalty here, a sack to back them out of field goal range there, a circus catch followed by bad drop. IMO Kearse won’t/shouldn’t be back next year. The inconsistency is just too much. For every great play there seems to be two drops.

    I too thought it interesting that Michael was the back who got the carries to finish the game out. Maybe a positive sign?

    • Rob Staton

      Kearse can be kept on a nice cheap RFA deal for 2015. Expect him back.

      • Jake

        I do hope to see Norwood usurp more of his role going forward. Two solid first down grabs today and I just feel good every time he’s targeted.

        • dean

          I love Norwood and I think he takes over for Kearse next year but I could be wrong.

          I thought the offense played very well. Obviously clean up some little stuff but Bevell was great, Wilson was great and everyone else played their part. Excited about this team.

    • cha

      On the bright side Cysco, 2013 had all kinds of wins like this.

  4. cha

    Great, great win. So nice to see the Seahawks’ defensive line depth players like Hill and Williams contribute. Chip Kelly was completely out-coached.

    This felt like a near-perfect example of a textbook Seahawks win: ferocious defense that completely controls the opposition’s offensive play calling and forces turnovers, a run heavy offense that uses RW running and elusiveness to keep things off kilter, and spreading the ball around to many different receivers. Agree only thing lacking is the tall WR jump ball type.

    This team is peaking at the right time. It’s crazy to think this but the hardest game left on the schedule might be Week 17 vs St Louis. You KNOW that one isn’t going to be overlooked. It’ll be a great playoff warmup for this team.

  5. Alaska Norm

    Love to see them peaking at the right time. Great to see the young guys stepping up as well. Norwood and Hill both looked great. Still worried about our kick returns with Richrdson and Baldwin. It looked like Michales could have had a big game with more carries. He almost broke one in the first half. He just looks faster than everyone else when he gets a little gap. Here’s hoping he can be the guy if Lynch does in fact retire. Narrowing down the draft needs even further.

    Big reciever TE or WR
    Big DT
    Pass Rusher
    Pass Rusher
    Running Back

    I’m always looking at whom Seattle may target in FA. They have been successful in finding cast offs. The last few years not as much but a Leo ala Clemmons would be awesome.

    • Rob Staton

      I hope they get a shot at Cleveland’s Jabaal Sheard. Would be perfect.

      • Spokane Seahwak

        I agree, Sheard would be great. Such a great win, D was gnar, O stepped up a bit. Micheal just looked faster, Marshawn looked slow compared to him. He needs more carries, all he needs is a crease! Once again wincing at Martavis Bryant blowing up today………

        • CC

          Bryant – heavy sigh! He looks so good!

          • Ben2

            That was one of the 2 points I logged on to share with the 12s today….my sorrow over Martavus Bryant. A big, speedy deep threat that got picked in the 4th. Man, there were so many receivers that came into the league this year. Another big, mid round guy that we talked about on the blog that looks intriguing is Moncrief. Oh well

            • plyka

              I think everyone watching this board gets pissed every time they see Bryant scoring another TD. A perfect WR for this team and yet they passed and passed. At least I have Bryant on my Keeper Fantasy league as a waiver wire pickup, lol.

              I think we need to conclude that there are certain positions that Seattle just is NOT good at picking, especially in the draft. The weakest is WR and TE, the Hawks have spent outrageous amounts of draft capital and resources on these two positions, without any luck whatsoever. In fact, their best selections have been two undrafted WRs in BAldwin and Kearse.

              Luke Willson is just a waste of space. I would cut him immediately. Helfet looks much better. TEs usually have great hands, Willson may have the worse hands on the team, including Mebeane and Lemuel Juan-Pierre. I don’t think any one of the 53 players on this team can have worse hands than WIllson. He is just bad.

              Certain positions it’s all about athleticism –perhaps 100% of them are on defense. The skill positions on offense are the least reliant on athleticism in my opinion. At least in the SPARQ sense. It’s more dependent on hand eye coordination, body control, smarts, etc. Not just how fast/strong you are.

              • AlaskaHawk

                I don’t think it’s rocket science picking a wide receiver. They just need to decide what they want. A speedster to stretch the field, a quick shifty guy, a sure handed receiver, a tall jumper, someone that high points the ball well, someone who fights for the ball.

                Looking back at Golden Tate, he was a fighter with good hands. He was always in the middle of a play and came down with a bunch of catches because of it. He also had good leaping abiity.

                I hope that Norwood turns out to be the same. It was criminal not to play him earlier in the season. Sometimes I just don’t think the Seahawks get how to design passing plays. Basic vanilla is okay until you run into a good defense. Philly was all over our bubble screens. They knew the play as soon as the ball was snapped.

                • Nathan

                  Could we learn from how Green Bay use Randall Cobb?

                  Richardson would be perfect for that play where he lined up in the backfield to get away from Revis coverage.

                  Even the jet sweep, is that worth a shot again now that opposition defenses aren’t prepared for it?

                  • Arias

                    Similarly, the eagles successfully ran a red zone play putting Maclin in motion to shake Sherman’s shadow on his touchdown score. BUT that’s no reason to run plays like that for Richardson because he’s not drawing Revis or Sherman quality defenders like Cobb or Maclin to warrant that.

                • Alaska Norm

                  Norwood missed a lot of pre season with injurys. I’m hoping he is just starting to come into his own and gain the trust of the coches. It kind of feels that he and Wilson have good chemistry.

  6. Adog

    Bennett is playing at a all pro level on the d-line. Coincidentally hill and avril look better. Glad we got him resigned. Kearse is consistent in running his routes…Norwood not quite yet. It seems that they stretch the field every year just in time for a playoff run. This really opened it for those crossed over the middle. I wonder if the mythical big bodied wr is just that a myth in bevell’ offense. I don’t expect big bodied wr’s to run great routes…so perhaps that is a factor in the draft room,

    • Alaska Norm

      I think they would use the big body WR more in the post up, jump ball mode. That’s what they are lacking. Those short red zone and third and five throws are what’s bern killing them. Hopefully the big body guy would progress Into a solid rout runner but for now someone who can battle for the contested throws and out jump the defense in the back of the end zone would buy us a lot.

    • Michael M.

      I thought Avril was conspicuously absent today. Didn’t notice him at all. Of course he was probably lined up across from Jason Peters all day, so this isn’t surprising or disappointing really. He’ll get back on track against the 9ers.

      • Arias

        Avril was very active with 5 qb pressures, more than anyone else on the team. Just because he doesn’t get a sack doesn’t mean he’s not doing his job and creating opportunities for his line mates like jordan hill.

  7. AlaskaHawk

    The defense played really well today. I’m excited at the way the defensive line has been pass rushing. They hurried Sanchez all game long. Wilson looked good with his 26 yard TD and lots of 20+ yd completions. Baldwin was his go to receiver. Richards and Norwood each had a couple catches, they are working their way into the starters. Great win!

  8. Aaron

    I was really excited by what I saw from Michael. He competed hard, showed more great burst, and was trusted by the team to close out the victory.

    I still haven’t given up hope that he can be the answer at RB after Lynch (hopefully a couple of years from now).

  9. Amar

    About the overconfidence thing, I think the fact that they will be playing three divisional opponents will keep them in check – one would hope. Especially the fact that AZ is still leading the division. Also, # 2 seed (even #1 seed if GB looses) is on the line.

    And the fact that they are still NOT the no. 1 D in terms of points allowed (Detriot) should keep the defense motivated. They looked pissed that they gave up 14 points.

    • neil

      I dont see Green Bay losing the rest of the way. Their schedule is way easier than the Hawks. They will go 13-3. It looks like the championship game will be played in Green Bay. After the way we beat them the first game, I would be really surprized if the Hawks could win that one.!!

      • Ben2

        Surprised if the Hawks could win that one or would be surprised if they weren’t able to win that one? Completely different meaning.

  10. Phil

    Good to see Michael getting a few more carries. Does anyone recall him running the read option with RW this year? I don’t. I wonder if his exuberance to get more carries might cause him to snatch the handoff from RW instead of letting the QB “ride” the handoff — delaying it to make the DE/OLB commit? Maybe this is a part of why we are not seeing more of him.

    • Alaska Norm

      Actually now that you mention it I think they fumbled on a read option a few games ago. RW tried to pull it back on a keep and Michaels tried to hang on to it…. Anyone else remember that?

      • rowdy

        I remember that but I remember thinking it looked more on wilson. Only seen the play during the game though, could be wrong.

      • Arias

        Not michaels, lynch. And that was completely on Wilson.

  11. CC

    Great defense and a passing game! A nice change of pace – to see our o line give Russell a series of plays where he had very good protection was a nice change! Also, our WRs got some separation – again happy to see that.

    The defense was once again better than advertised.

    Now, if our special teams could become special again… but overall a fantastic game by a team that looks to peak at the right time!

    Great win!!

    • Meat

      My only gripe was the couple times protection was good for several seconds, but Russell didn’t pass and took a sack taking them out of field goal range. I would be curious to see the film, but I bet there were an open receiver during that play in particular. There were a few more plays wilson didn’t want to pull the trigger, indecisive. Nitpick for this game, but this isn’t anything new with pulling the trigger on some throws or separation.

      • Arias

        Not really fair to call it indecisive unless you know for sure there was an open receiver. I’d rather him not throw a pick.

  12. Bruce M.

    Michael ran well. But he benefited from that defense being seriously gassed by the time he was getting the ball, after three quarters of Lynch and Russell, and a ridiculous TOP delta.

    Britt’s pass blocking worries me, not just because he is bad now, but because I’m not sure I see the skills necessary to get markedly better. We have at least one guard (and back-up LT)–Bailey–who has better feet than Britt, for just one example. Wonder if Gilliam does too….

    Damn, I wish this had been the team that played Dallas at home….

    Rob, I think you meant “gilt-edged”. Unless somehow guilt was involved 🙂

    • Michael M.

      He is probably feeling pretty guilty right now for having dropped it. Word play?

    • Meat

      I wonder why Bailey isn’t tried more at RT

    • Robert

      Gilliam is a SPARQ freak. He needs to get a little stronger this off season. I bet he puts on 15 pounds and challenges Britt next summer.

  13. Ben2

    Wow! Hill’s game today was encouraging especially with Mebane out. I watched him a lot today and he seemed to do a good job against the run and had good penetration at times. He looks bigger; bigger than last year and and even since the beginning of this year.

    • Arias

      Hill plays the 3 tech. I believe it’s Kevin Williams that has taken over Mebane’s 1 tech duties and he’s done a serviceable job there, definitely has exceeded my expectations.

  14. Jeff M.

    The defense looked fully back in form and offense solid (except for sacks/grounding on the edge of FG range…), but our special teams play was pretty concerning.

    Ryan flat-out dropping the snap two weeks in a row is probably just a fluke–not really concerned about it for the future–but still, hold onto the ball! And it’s actually our returners who are possibly a bigger issue.

    Richardson’s decision-making on kick returns looks poor (taking it out from 8-9 yards deep after the coverage unit is already past his blockers and getting downed inside the 10)–I’d rather have a less dynamic guy like Kearse back there who at least recognizes when to take a knee if he’s not going to make the 20.

    And Baldwin had multiple punts that he could have simply fair-caught to give us possession at midfield that he instead let hit the ground and bounce an extra 15 yards. He seems like he’s not comfortable fielding punts in traffic, which isn’t that surprising given his lack of experience doing so. I’m not sure why we had Matthews (did he even see the field?) active over Walters, who is at least used to making a fair catch with a gunner in his face.

    In both cases we don’t need (or have) a Tate/Harvin-type weapon to flip field position…just a steady guy who will take what’s available while avoiding negative plays.

    • Aaron

      Yeah, I never thought I would say this, but I missed Walters.

      • John_S

        I don’t have any problems with the Baldwin back there on punt returns. Today, you can chalk it up to the wind conditions.

        Per Seattle Times:

        “I told (the returners) ‘Don’t even catch it,’ ” Carroll said. “Let it hit the ground. It’s not going to make a difference.”

        Baldwin complied, calling the winds “horrendous’’ and saying “it was weird because the wind was blowing one way at one end of the stadium and at the other it was blowing the opposite direction. It made it very difficult.”

        • Cysco

          that’s an awesome quote from pete. thanks for sharing! Pretty awesome confidence. “Let it hit the ground. It’s not going to make a difference.”

        • Alaska Norm

          That makes a lot more sense. I was getting worried about the kick returns.

    • Phil

      Jeff M – you seem to be the only one mentioning the intentional grounding issue. I think there were some additional instances where IG could have been called on RW, and wasn’t. I bet the officials are going to watch the tape of this game and be on the lookout for IG by RW in the future. He’s become a little reckless in how much he overthrows his receivers when he throws the ball away.

      • CHawk Talker Eric

        Understand the rule. Overthrowing is fine, as long as the QB is out of the pocket. It doesn’t matter if no offensive player has a realistic chance of catching the ball.

        • Phil

          I understand the rule. IMHO, there were some plays where he seemed to be inside the tackles and seemed to be deliberately overthrowing his potential receiver. Obviously, it is a judgement call, but I am just calling for caution because the refs appear to be applying extra scrutiny to the Seahawks this season.

          • plyka

            I believe this is also legal. If there is a WRs in the area, a QB can overthrow the WRs by a mile and it’s still NOT illegal grounding. This is the explanation which Chip Kelley got from the officials.

  15. JeffS

    The special teams were horrific. They lost the St. Louis game. They’ll lose another one if they aren’t improved.

    Wilson again got called for too much time. Inexcusable.

    They twice had the game almost wrapped up. All they had to do was to burn up some time with running plays and kick a field goal. They blew it with risky plays that had a good chance of pushing them backwards.Something similar happened in the SF game.

    Flaws like this will lead to defeat if not corrected.

    • Phil

      Minor point, but on the too much time penalty, it looked like they were late breaking the huddle. Not sure if the problem was with RW or if he just got the call too late from the sidelines. In either event, it is inexcusable.

    • Rob Staton

      Not if the defense keeps playing this way.

      • Mylegacy

        Rob, does any team in the league have a better five DB’s than Thomas, Chancellor, Sherman, Maxwell and Simon? Are this group “historically’ significant? My oh my.

        • Rob Staton

          There isn’t even a team that comes close. Carroll is a master when it comes to coaching DB’s.

          • AlaskaHawk

            Even our ex players look good. I especially enjoyed Browner laying a hit on a San Diego receiver and knocking him flat. It looked like a legal hit with the shoulder but it was so violent that the refs penalized him anyway.

          • John_s

            DB coach Kris Richard too should get credit along with PC. Then if your going to be around Sherm and Earl who are film junkies, that has to rub off too

            • Rob Staton

              Richard is clearly a superb coach. But who coached Richard? Carroll is the master at the heart of this.

              • Robert

                And now Richard Sherman is making it his mission to mentor Simon!

          • JeffC

            The perspective I use when I think about our db’s is that if RW had one goto receiver, imagine how much it would impact the offense. With the legion of boom, we have 3 dbs (Sherman, Earl, Kam) who are each the equal of a goto offensive receiver, and Max is pretty close. That’s three totally game changing dominant players on the backline.

            No team comes close to that in the modern NFL.

          • Robert

            All 4 DB’s might make the Pro Bowl…but will not make the trip!

        • CHawk Talker Eric

          The 2 toughest DB positions in all of football have to be:

          1. Opposite Sherman; and
          2. Nickel corner (any nickel).

          Byron Maxwell (Maxie) absolutely has killed it at both. He’s proven himself to be as much a “shut down” corner as anyone. His “wet blanket” coverage in Philly resulted in multiple failed 3rd down conversions by the Eagles.

          It’s easy to get lost in the LOB among the likes of Sherm, ET3, Kam or Wags, each of whom could legitimately vie for defensive MVP honors. Maxie has earned his place among that pantheon of defensive monsters.

          • Dylan

            Another great thing about B. Maxwell is how well he tackles. It’s impressive. He’s a spider on the field. He pounces on his prey, immediately wraps them up in what seems like an impossible number of lanky spider arms & legs, and takes them directly to the ground. During this lightning-quick prey-capturing process of flailing spider legs and nightmares he’s trying to punch the ball out (as he did in SB-XLVIII & has on numerous other occasions.)
            Someone else in the comments above used a great analogy for his coverage style: “wet blanket.” Well said. Maxwell has looked excellent inside at nickel, lately, too! Bet that insane wingspan sure helps! Hope Simon’s finger doesn’t limit him this Sunday.. Go ‘Hawks!

  16. Rick Darcy

    Rob, if you were interested in an overview of playoff possibilities with 3 weeks left, I put this together and will update next week.

    What I found interesting is to win the division, if the Hawks win 2 of 3 and Zona loses 2 of 3, we take the division regardless of team wins and losses. Too bad Zona beat the Chiefs.

    Just thought I’d forward and great site.

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