In what was a reversal of games past, Seattle's offense kicked into high gear while the defense gave up big plays. Happy Overreaction Monday, everybody!
If any of you follow me on Twitter (you should), you'll have noticed that I questioned my age at one point during this game. Why? Because I wasn't quite sure if I was watching the 2005 Seahawks or the 2012 Seahawks. The offense was incredibly efficient, scoring four touchdowns, all of which were in the red zone.
If you've followed the Seahawks at all this season, you'll realize what a big deal that is.
To generate discussion and invoke some various thought, I'm going to recap Pass Offense, Pass Defense, Run Offense, and (gasp) Run Defense. I'll give some quick opinions and point out some under the radar game factors in each phase.
I would argue that this was Russell Wilson's best game as a pro. Sure, he only had 173 yards passing. But the kid was incredible. In the first half, he was flawless. Three dropped passes hurt his statistics, but Wilson showed a masterful command of the pocket, moving when necessary, finding throwing lanes, and demonstrating incredible footwork. He had a couple overthrows and underthrows in the second half, but was overall throwing with accuracy and velocity.
What you may not have noticed: Russell Wilson's throw variety continues to expand. In the first few games, his repertoire was pretty basic. Bubble screens and stick routes were largely employed in the short game, and deep fades dominated the long ball. Today, Wilson hit multiple deep slants, seam routes, and perfectly executed some screen passes. His footwork on these throws was immaculate. The fact that Wilson is getting more comfortable with his team and with hitting multiple passes is allowing the playbook to open up. And the open playbook was a huge factor in the team's win today.
Speaking of variety playcalling, the run game was incredible today. Marshawn Lynch broke the century mark yet again, Robert Turbin and Golden Tate each had 21 yards rushing, and the offensive line routinely opened up holes for the running backs. Consider this: Jared Allen and Kevin Williams make up what many believe to be the best defensive line tandem in the NFL. Yet Okung and Unger routinely neutralized these threats, gashing Minnesota's defense. If that's not impressive, I don't know what is.
What you may not have noticed: Russell Wilson helped the offense majorly by extending drives with his feet. A couple of times, Seattle even ran their own variation of the option play. Wilson read the defensive players perfectly on these plays, keeping the ball when necessary and getting first downs. Scrambling wise, Wilson used pump fakes to get defenders off their feet before scooting by for extra yardage. All in all, Wilson had his best game as a scrambler as well. The rookie ran as a last resort, but was smart when he did it. Give Bevell credit: he used Russell Wilson's strengths to perfectly pick apart his former team.
The statistics here pretty much speak for themselves. Christian Ponder 11/22, with 63 yards and a pick. Percy Harvin, who some considered to be in the MVP race earlier this season, had two catches for 10 yards. The fact that Minnesota passed many times in a row after Adrian Peterson routinely gashed Seattle's defense still baffles me.
What you may not have noticed: The Seahawks used the bandit package in this game, and it worked like a charm. Minnesota ended up being 3-10 on third down, which was a vast improvement over last week's miserable 12-16 showing. A big reason for this was the use of the bandit package. For those of you who don't know, this package traditionally brings an extra safety on the field as a blitzer in place of a linebacker. That's a very simplified version of it and it can be tweaked, but Jeron Johnson was extremely effective while using this principle of the package. When the Seahawks blitzed on 3rd down, Christian Ponder couldn't handle it. Personally, I think we need to blitz more. Blitzing is good. Yay Blitzing.
...Yikes. Adrian Peterson tore Seattle up, gaining 182 yards and two scores on the way. I attribute this more to the fact that Adrian Peterson is an absolute phenom than to Seattle's poor run defense. On many of Peterson's runs (including his 74 yard heartbreaker), Seattle defenders were in the backfield, ready to make the tackle for a loss. Peterson bounced to the outside after breaking tackles, and took the free yards that the overcommitting defense gave him. So, essentially, it's not all bad. One more foot of penetration from those Seattle linemen, and AP gets a four yard loss instead of a 74 yard gain.
What you may not have noticed: Seattle was hitting Minnesota players really, really, really, hard. Fans everywhere were cringing regularly. Earl Thomas was pissed off, smacking AP all day. Kam and Sherm both put the hurt on AP and Harvin. Brandon Mebane and Red Bryant consistently took naps on Christian Ponder. I think Gus Bradley may have had some choice words for the team after Peterson broke off that huge run, because I haven't seen that kind of vicious hitting in a while. And it was awesome.
All in all, it was a good win for the team. There are obviously things to work on, but offensively the team was complete, and defensively the pass defense performed admirably. Happy Overreaction Monday!