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Week 11 Game Recap: SEA vs. ARI

Finally, a statement win for the whole league to see. After what seemed like an eternity since the last half-decent Seahawks defensive performance, they showed up. The defensive performance paired with zero turnovers on offense proved to be the secret for Seattle to get even with the Cardinals.

Let’s talk about this defense. The Seahawks only allowed 21 points in their crucial win over the Arizona Cardinals. While 21 points is not by any means a stout performance, it is the least amount of points the defense has allowed thus far. Did the defense play lights out? Of course not. But, they were able to hold the league’s top rushing attack to a season-low 57 yards rushing, 3.2 yards per carry, and limited Kyler Murray to just 15 yards on the ground, also a season-low.

Arizona was only able to muster 312 total yards, the fewest yards allowed by the Seattle defense so far this season, and the first time the Seattle defense has limited the opposing offense to under 350 yards. Additionally, the Seahawks defense had THREE 3 and outs. This defense will never be a top-10 unit this season, but if they can play even just AVERAGE, then the Seahawks have a good chance to win their final six games.

Interesting Impressions

● Carlos Dunlap has paid off, immensely. Now 2nd on the team with 3.5 sacks, Dunlap single-handedly ended the Cardinals’ hopes of tying the game late on 4th and 10 with 0:45 remaining in the 4th. Dunlap had 2 sacks on the day, 3 QB hits, and tacked on 2 tackles for loss. Since Dunlap joined the Seahawks three weeks ago, the Seahawks defense has 13 sacks, including 3 sacks on Kyler Murray after failing to register even a QB hit last time they played. For reference, the Seahawks only had 9 sacks in the 7 games prior.

● Wilson finally played his first turnover-free game since the 49ers came into town in late October and it proved to be a difference-maker in a close one-score game. Uncharacteristically, Wilson didn’t take many shots down the field and simply took what the defense gave him. It was clear that the game plan emphasized shorter route concepts, and not force the ball into bad situations. Even Metcalf’s 25-yard touchdown was originally drawn up as a short crosser, but DK improvised and free deep as he saw Wilson scrambling. Wilson, after electing NOT to scramble for a first down and instead throwing an interception against the Rams last week, scrambled far more often and garnered 42 rushing yards on 10 carries. Wilson already has more rush yards this season than he did all of last season and his 6.7 yards per carry is his best since 2014.

● Carson and Hyde have clearly been missed and this game was a reminder of how valuable these two backs are to the offense. Hyde ran well all game, averaging 5.6 yards per carry, producing a very Seattle-esque physical rushing offense. The rushing attack as a whole performed well, racking up 165 yards and 5.3 yards per carry. Big shout out to the offensive line, as they were able to open GAPING holes for Hyde, Scarborough, and Dallas to run through. All three backs finished with more than 5 yards per carry.

● Rookie Damien Lewis was a surprising start at center, replacing an injured Kyle Fuller who himself was replacing starter Ethan Pocic. On his first snap, Lewis blew his block and led to a sack. Later, he botched a snap under center to Wilson, but David Moore luckily recovered for a 4 yard gain. Lewis was also DESTROYED on the aforementioned (not) holding call and later didn’t snap the ball in time, causing a false start. Lewis has been a phenomenal run blocker at right guard thus far, but he was not great as a center.

● The Seahawks surprisingly fielded a well-balanced attack, with a 28-31 pass-to-run ratio. Yardage was nearly even as well, with 182 net passing yards and 165 rushing. As much as I love to see Russ cook, the Seahawks were becoming frustratingly predictable, just as they had been running the ball in years prior. Despite running more than they passed, the Seahawks offense still passed 60% of the time in neutral game scripts. THIS is what we mean by letting Russ cook. Hopefully this marks the start of a more balanced offense.

● This was not a strong kicking performance. Dickson had a forgettable day, only averaging 43.5 yards per punt and kicked a few line drives. He also had just one punt inside the 20 on four attempts. Myers missed his 2nd PAT of the season, but hit both of his field goals and remains 12/12 on the season.

● However, kick/punt coverage was spectacular. Chase Edmonds was held to just an average of 20 yards, partly due to an excellent tackle by Ryan Neal at the 10 yard line. Similarly, Christian Kirk only mustered 8 punt return yards on 2 attempts, although Ryan Neal was flagged for a 15 yard penalty after failing to reestablish himself inbounds. David Moore continued his efficient season returning punts with one return for 11 yards. DJ Reed’s only true kickoff return went for just 25 yards, but he showed a burst of speed that we haven’t seen from Travis Homer. No hesitation, just running full speed and finding a hole. Throw in an impressive 20 yard return on a safety kickoff and I think it’s safe to say DJ Reed should be the kick returner going forward. For context, he also had one return against the Rams last week that went for 49 yards and averaged over 30 yards per attempt in 2018 with San Francisco.

● The first two 3 and outs the defense forced were VERY encouraging. On the first drive, solid pressure on first down forced a short checkdown wrapped up by Adams for 3 yards. Then, the defensive line got pressure again, forcing Murray to throw the ball away. On third down, an inaccurate pass from Murray was too high for Hopkins, who was shoved by Tre Flowers as he attempted to corral the ball with one hand. During the second drive, a first down run by Drake was followed by good pressure up the middle on second down, resulting in a sack. A false start by Arizona on third down resulted in a screen pass that was blown up by Amadi, who slowed down future HOFer Fitzgerald just enough for Dunlap to make a tackle for just a yard. A common theme in these two 3 and out defensive performances? Solid pressure, even when rushing just four.

● Tre Flowers wasn’t a HUGE liability in coverage, per se, but he sure was one in tackling. Twice did Murray dump off a pass to the underneath receiver while under duress and TWICE did Flowers overrun the receiver, taking a bad angle, and giving up a big gain on what should’ve been a completion for minimal yardage. To his credit, Flowers mainly matched with Hopkins and was able to limit him to just 51 yards on 5 receptions.

● DJ Reed was physically outmatched on a goal line touchdown to Maxx Williams, but was solid in coverage otherwise. With Dunbar on IR, I think the best cornerback duo on the roster is DJ Reed and Shaquill Griffin, with Amadi manning the nickel spot.

● Quandre Diggs has been disappointingly quiet for most of the season, but had himself a spectacular game against the Cardinals. Diggs laid a HUGE hit on Dan Arnold to break up a deep pass in the middle of the field. Diggs also nearly intercepted Murray on an endzone target to Fitzgerald at the end of the game and was also involved in the pass breakup to Andy Isabella, also in the endzone, on the following third down. Diggs was officially credited with 2 passes defended. His biggest negative play came on a questionable late hit after the ball was thrown behind Hopkins on 3rd and 11 during Arizona’s first drive of the second half.

● LJ Collier had a good day despite playing minimal snaps, including a GREAT swim move on former Seahawk JR Sweezy to force a holding call in the end zone to force a safety. He had a sack earlier as well. While Collier may never live up to his 1st round pedigree, I’m happy with his performance in the rotation.

Next on Deck: Another week, another bird. This time, it’s the Eagles (MNF)

The Seahawks get a much-needed mini-bye to get healthy before facing the Eagles, who lead the atrocious NFC East, on Monday night in Philadelphia. Two more starters, Greg Olsen and Brandon Shell, left the game against Arizona. The Seahawks could finally see the return of Shaquill Griffin, Chris Carson, Ethan Pocic, and even Rashaad Penny. Entering this week, the Seahawks led the league with 29 injured players. Hopefully, an extra weekend of rest will help.

Since the start of the Pete Carroll era, the Seahawks have outmatched the Eagles 6-0 in their past meetings. That includes 2 wins by the exact same score of 17-9 in both week 16 and the Wild Card round last season.

Carson Wentz has not played exceptionally well this season and is partly why the Eagles are just a 3 win team. Wentz has thrown an interception in every game this season except for last week against the Giants, including five games with MULTIPLE interceptions. He’s also lost 4 fumbles and currently leads the league in turnovers at quarterback.

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