What we learned: Giants 41, Seahawks 7
Posted by Danny O'Neil
1) Seattle's defensive success starts up front.
After five games, the Seahawks had the No. 2-ranked rush defense. Now, they're ranked No. 19, allowing 112.6 yards per game as the Seahawks have lost first Brandon Mebane, then Red Bryant for the year and finally Colin Cole. Seattle isn't going to rediscover that formidability all at once, but it needs to start improving.
2) The Seahawks' problems on offense go beyond who's playing quarterback.
Everyone who thought Matt Hasselbeck was holding this offense back should have seen on Sunday that Charlie Whitehurst isn't the instant cure. Seattle's offense has been an albatross for a good chunk of this season, and that's not going to change until the offensive line gets solidified. Seattle has started five different offensive-line combinations this season after starting six different combinations all of last season.
3) Safety Earl Thomas is going to have some growing pains.
He has been magnificent the first half of the season, intercepting four passes and he was chosen by Sports Illustrated's Peter King as an All-Pro for the first half of the season. But he's a rookie, and as Giants quarterback Eli Manning said, rookie safeties like to get nosy. That's what happened on the 46-yard touchdown pass to Hakeem Nicks, a play in which Thomas camped out on a crossing route by tight end Kevin Boss, getting caught flat-footed, which allowed Manning to throw over the top on a post to Nicks, who was in a one-on-one matchup.
II. Three things we don't know
1) How will coach Pete Carroll respond to consecutive losses?
He hasn't had to do it since 2001 when he was in his first year at USC. The Trojans lost four in a row that year, and they haven't lost back-to-back games since. Now, Carroll is going to have to rally his team not just after losing consecutive games, but being trounced.
2) How much of a difference will Russell Okung make in the ground game?
The Seahawks gained 55 yards on six carries during the 7 minutes he played against Arizona, and averaged only 3 yards per carry after he left. The Seahawks ground game hasn't been much more than a rumor the past two weeks, and if Okung is able to return as the Seahawks hope, can he make the difference in the desert?
3) Can Seattle keep relying on turnovers to boost the offense?
In Seattle's first three home games, the Seahawks gained 815 yards and allowed 1,008 yet they were 3-0 in those games. Why? They forced 12 turnovers, committed only four and that margin made all the difference. Depending on another team's mistakes is precarious, though, and when the Seahawks forced only one turnover against the Giants, they didn't have much of a chance at all.
III. Three things we're still trying to figure out
1) Will Mike Williams return to the playmaker he was just three weeks ago?
The leg bruise is part of it, derailing the momentum he summoned in catching 21 passes in the first two games after Deion Branch was traded. For those two weeks, Williams looked very much like someone ready to stake his claim as a bona fide No. 1 receiver. Since then, he has caught a total of three passes for 52 yards. He's not healthy. Let's make that clear, but Seattle needs someone who can win one-on-one matchups on the outside, and at 6 feet 5, he's built to do that.
2) Has the defense already peaked?
For four games, Seattle was incredibly healthy with linebacker Leroy Hill the most significant injury suffered on defense. That has changed in a hurry, and with Bryant out for the year and Cole not expected back this week because of an ankle injury, can Seattle expect to improve on defense as Seattle now ranks No. 27 in terms of yards allowed.
3) Can they come back and win a game?
This was suggested by Mike Salk of 710 ESPN Seattle, and he's absolutely right, the Seahawks haven't overcome a second-half deficit this year. The Seahawks trailed 6-0 to San Francisco and 7-0 at Chicago, but they have yet to erase a second-half deficit for a victory this season.
Dec 24 - 6:10 AM Looking back: Revisiting Sunday's scouting report
Dec 24 - 1:09 AM Seahawks' scoring binge
Dec 24 - 1:01 AM Video: Summing Seattle's victory
Dec 24 - 12:58 AM Video: Russell Wilson post-game comments
Dec 24 - 12:21 AM Rookie passing roll call