For the third time this season, the Seahawks turned their road game into a nail-biter. This time around however, the Seahawks were able to execute on offense when it counted and because of a couple of huge defensive stops late in the fourth quarter, the Seahawks prevailed; beating the Carolina Panthers 16-12. Here are some notes and thoughts I took from this wild win.
Wilson Is Finally Taking Some Chances: As a fan of a team with one of the best running games in the league, I usually take the stance that we should always establish the run by giving the ball to Marshawn Lynch on the first play of the drive. But for all the fans including myself who also wanted to see Russell Wilson get loose and stretch the field early, this game was for you. On the very first offensive play Sunday, Wilson looked left and completed a pass to Sidney Rice for 18 yards and a first down. Although the final tally may not reflect it, Russell Wilson kept improving in Carolina on Sunday. In front of some friends, family members, and fans that saw him play at North Carolina State, Wilson finished the game 19/25 for 221 yards with one touchdown pass and two interceptions. Wilson’s biggest mistake of the game was an interception returned for a touchdown by Captain Munnerlyn in the third quarter. Other than this Wilson looked much sharper to me. There were still some rookie moments that were frustrating to watch. These moments will come and go throughout the season. There were two big highlights in my eyes from Russell on Sunday. The first was a 56-yard pass to Golden Tate which was called back because of a penalty. Although the pass did not count, it was as beautiful of a pass as possible. Wilson put it right on Tate’s hands and the penalty negated what could have been the biggest offensive play of the game. The second was his touchdown to Tate, which did count, which came from inside the red zone. The commentators pondered the possibility of Russell Wilson being too afraid about possibly making a mistake so deep into enemy territory that he did not take chances. I am hoping with this touchdown, Wilson has shaken the monkey off of his back and will continue to split defenders down inside the red zone.
Defense Is Dominant: After giving up only 12 points on Sunday, the Seahawks now have the number one overall defense in the National Football League. My defensive studs this week go to Bruce Irvin who had 2 sacks, upping his season total to 4.5, Bobby Wagner, who co-led the defense in individual tackles with 6, Brandon Browner who ripped the ball away from DeAngelo Williams which set up the Wilson/Tate touchdown, and Richard Sherman who did a great job containing the ever-dangerous Steve Smith while also being able to get inside Smith’s head which caused him to commit an unnecessary roughness penalty. Although the Seahawks are 1-2 on the road this season, the defense is giving up an average of 17 points per game on the road which should be enough to win most games. The Seahawks return home this weekend and are giving up 9.5 points per game at home. Against the Patriots that may change but at home our defense has proven it can shut down even the most explosive offenses in the league.
Sophomore Slump: Name all of the synonyms for the word bad. Cam Newton’s performance on Sunday could be described by any one of those words. Newton had the worst game of his career on Sunday. He threw for only 141 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions. The entire game was summed up at the end when, on 4th and goal from the 1-yard line, instead of jumping over the goal line in his signature “Superman” style which is what the Seahawks were expecting, Newton rolled to the right and threw a stinker of a pass which fell short of intended receiver Ben Hartsock. The Seahawks took over on downs and held on for the win. Newton felt pressure all game long and struggled with our dominant pass rush in his face. Newton was sacked 4 times on Sunday. The thing that hurt Carolina the most was the ineffectiveness of Newton and the offense when they entered Seahawks territory. The Panthers scored only 3 points after offensive drives. Their other points came on Munnerlyn’s interception return touchdown and the safety we gave up at the end of the game (more on the safety in random thoughts). Newton overall has not been impressive this season and Panthers fans should be worried. Even Earl Thomas called out Newton, stating that “once we bottle it up and frustrate him, we know he is going to tank…” Newton is even more frustrating in his postgame interviews. Newton seems to be very immature and unable to handle questions that easily make him upset and mad. If Carolina’s play doesn’t improve, things may get ugly in the Carolina Panthers locker room later on this season.
Impressive Rookie. I Called It: Luke Kuechly showed why I would have liked to draft him if he was available this past offseason. Kuechly did a great job filling the void left by Jon Beason, almost passing as a seasoned veteran. Kuechly led the team in solo tackles with 7 and also led the Panthers in total tackles with 11. He will be a stud with this team for a very long time to come. I wrote about Kuechly’s poise and potential in my preview post. Hopefully you also saw what I was talking about. I’m glad I was right about him. I’m even more glad our offensive performance was enough to beat his defense.
Random Thoughts: The safety at the end of the game was a genius move. By having Jon Ryan run out of the endzone, we took more time off the clock, we gave Ryan the opportunity to free kick back to the Panthers with no pressure in his face, and the Panthers still needed to drive the length of the field to score a touchdown. Huge kudos to the coaching staff for planning that play. Very smart in my opinion… I think the blue jersey/grey pants combo looks a little weird. I think white pants would look better when we have to wear blue tops on the road… Not going to lie, there were a couple brief moments in the middle of the game where I wanted to see Matt Flynn take over for Wilson. Let’s just say I was frustrated. Just ask my roommates… Coach Carroll benched Breno Giacomini after his latest personal foul penalty and rightfully so. If this keeps up (which I’m sure it will) Giacomini may lose his starting spot. That’s right I’m calling you out Breno… Beating Carolina is a HUGE momentum boost for our game against New England at home next weekend. That game will be incredible especially since we haven’t played at home since the Monday Night Miracle… Once again the game seemed to go pretty fast… The good news and the bad news: The good news is all NFC West teams are over .500 this late into the season for the first time since re-alignment in 2002. The Bad news is that the Seahawks are in last place. Me thinks that won’t last for much longer… Steve Smith only got me 4.9 fantasy points this week but I still won my matchup. Success… I can’t wait for this week anticipating the Patriots game. I’ve got a fun week and weekend ahead of me.
Programming Note: Academically, I’ve got a small essay due next Monday for one class, a quiz next week for another class, and a mid-term next Wednesday that I will be studying for most of this week. Socially, my roommates and I are hosting a soiree on Friday night, I will be attending the USC Trojans/Washington Huskies game on Saturday, and the Patriots/Seahawks game on Sunday. Needless to say the next few days will be pretty hectic. Nevertheless, expect my preview of our week 6 game against the New England Patriots to be posted sometime Saturday morning. Thanks for reading everybody. Go Hawks!