The Seattle Seahawks are back in the driver’s seat of the NFC West thanks to … their defense?
That’s right, the group that has been setting or threatening NFL records for futility and entered Thursday night’s game without its two best cornerbacks delivered their best performance of the season.
A night of recovery from quarterback Russell Wilson and a revival of the running game led by Carlos Hyde did the rest.
It all added up to a 28-21 victory for the Seahawks over the Arizona Cardinals. The Seahawks claimed first place in the division and avoided what would have been their first three-game losing streak since 2011, a year before Wilson was drafted.
Yes, allowing 21 points is an improvement for Seattle’s defense, especially since he scored two points through safety. Carlos Dunlap had two of the Seahawks’ Kyler Murray sacks, including a fourth down to seal Seattle’s victory.
Mathematically speaking, this was not a must-play game for the Seahawks. But it was one they really couldn’t afford to lose since Arizona and the Los Angeles Rams, who also entered Thursday at 6-3, each had a head-to-head victory over Seattle.
QB breakdown. Wilson was mired in the worst turnover problem of his career starting Thursday, having committed 10 in the last four games. He wasn’t exactly the MVP of the early season (with Seattle rediscovering his running game, he didn’t have to be), but he avoided the unusual mistakes that had plagued him lately. He finished 23 of 28 for 197 yards, two touchdowns and no turnovers.
Promising trend. The Seahawks backfield is getting back in shape. The Seahawks haven’t had the offensive balance that offensive balance coach Pete Carroll desires in recent weeks with Hyde and Chris Carson missing since getting injured in Arizona’s first game. Carson was out again Thursday, but Hyde came back and drove 14 times for 79 yards and a touchdown. Seattle has not been able to replicate the physique that Carson and Hyde provide with smaller backups like DeeJay Dallas and Travis Homer. The Seahawks’ 165 rushing yards were the second most this season.
Worrying trend. Injuries continue to pile up for the Seahawks. The last starter to fall was veteran tight end Greg Olsen, who left the game in the fourth quarter when he suffered a non-contact foot injury. That could be a significant blow for Olsen, who is 35 and may be playing his final season, but an injury the Seahawks can overcome given his depth as a tight end. They have Will Dissly, Jacob Hollister and rookie Colby Parkinson, their fourth-round pick. Seattle also has rookies Stephen Sullivan and Tyler Mabry on its practice squad.
Amazing NextGen statistics. It took Wilson 6.57 seconds to throw his touchdown pass in the first quarter to DK Metcalf. Including the playoffs, that was Wilson’s fourth touchdown pass in the past four seasons in which he took at least six seconds to pitch, tied with Patrick Mahomes for second in the NFL and behind only five by Carson Wentz. Wilson deftly kept his eyes on the field as he escaped the pressure and Metcalf did his part by interrupting his route. It was Metcalf’s ninth receiving touchdown of the season, tied for the NFL lead. It was his seventh TD of more than 20 yards, also tied for the league lead.