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Seahawks review: Three likes and dislikes about the 27-7 victory over Dallas
Related column: Russell Wilson makes progress with 'really cool' performance
The bad and the good, at least in my view, from the Seahawks' impressive 27-7 victory over Dallas on Sunday at CenturyLink Field.
1. The slow-starting Seahawks still have yet to score a first-half touchdown in two games. If not for the special teams spotting the Seahawks offense 10 points in the first half, the atmosphere would've been a lot more tense early on at the CLink. Much like the Arizona game, the Seahawks couldn't get much going before halftime. They couldn't capitalize on turnovers and good field position, again. They had two takeaways in the first half, but they squeezed only three points out of them. Russell Wilson threw high and flirted with danger in the first quarter. The Seahawks went into halftime with just 118 yards and a mere 33 yards rushing. The offense's slow starts haven't killed them yet, but if they continue, the Seahawks will get burned at some point.
2. The pass rush and third-down defense remains shaky. The Seahawks had only one sack in this game, and it came late, when the game was no longer in doubt. No surprise, they allowed Dallas to convert 7 of 13 third-down tries. In two games, the Seahawks have allowed opponents to convert 44 percent of their third-down plays, which ranks in the bottom 10 in the NFL. The only other poor statistic for a defense that has been otherwise stellar? Sacks, of course. The Seahawks have just two so far. Only the Kansas City Chiefs, with one sack, have fewer. I believe the pass rush will improve greatly as the season progresses, but this is an early indicator of how much attention the Seahawks must pay to that area. It's their only defensive weakness.
3. Russell Wilson and the passing offense must generate more than 152 yards a game and 5.6 yards per attempt. If you've read my column today (which is linked above), then you know I complimented Wilson for doing what he was asked to do against the Cowboys. In many ways, it was coach Pete Carroll's ideal game to minimize the quarterback's burden. That's always his goal, and when your team rushes for 182 yards, that mission is a lot easier to fulfill. Wilson did his job simply by being efficient. He was shaky at the start, but he settled down and completed 13 of his last 15 passes. Overall, he was 15 of 20 for 151 yards with one touchdown and zero turnovers. That's progress. He wasn't under pressure all game this time. He didn't have to try to win the game in the fourth quarter. He just managed the offense. But in the future, the Seahawks will need to ask for more out of their passing offense. They're averaging only 152 passing yards a game right now. They have the NFL's least-productive passing attack. That's partly because they have a rookie quarterback, but the Seahawks aren't trying too hard to air it out, either. They're averaging only 27 pass attempts a game, which is 27th of 32 NFL teams. They're being conservative, but every game won't be a low-scoring affair. It'll be interesting to see if the Seahawks give Wilson more responsibility in their game plan next Monday against Green Bay, which has both an explosive offense and a defense that can be exploited. Wilson deserves that chance.
1. Special teams set the tone. On the opening kickoff, Michael Robinson forced a fumble, and Earl Thomas recovered it, which led to a Steven Hauschka field goal. Then, after Dallas went three and out in its first possession, Malcolm Smith blocked Chris Jones' punt. Jeron Johnson grabbed the football on one bounce and trotted into the end zone. The Seahawks had a 10-0 lead four and a half minutes into the game. It gave them the cushion to play through their early offensive struggles. It also allowed the defense to stay relaxed despite watching the Cowboys move the ball well in the first half.
2. The entire second half was spectacular. You saw the Seahawks' complete identity in the second half as they outscored Dallas 14-0. The Cowboys offense couldn't handle Seattle's overpowering D. The Seahawks offense rushed for 149 of its 182 yards after halftime, and Wilson made some key throws, including his 22-yard touchdown pass to Anthony McCoy. And the special teams remained solid. It was a physical, thorough whuppin'. The Cowboys managed just 85 yards in the second half, 51 of which came during garbage time in the final possession. The Cowboys had eight rushing yards in the second half. After Dallas completed a 15-play, 95-yard drive with Tony Romo's 22-yard touchdown pass to Miles Austin early in the second quarter, the Seahawks limited the Cowboys to 87 yards in 27 plays (3.2 yards per play) in Dallas' next six possessions. The Seahawks were stingy, nasty and intimidating. Which brings us to our final like.
3. The Seahawks manhandled the Cowboys. This is the most physical team the Seahawks have had in a long time and -- who knows? -- maybe ever. They punished the Cowboys with big hit after big hit. Golden Tate's block on Sean Lee was the highlight of the Seahawks' physical play, but Kam Chancellor, Earl Thomas, Brandon Browner and K.J. Wright all had forceful hits. Running back Robert Turbin had an incredible block, too, that was overshadowed by Tate's annihilation. Most important, the Seahawks played physical football within the rules. They had just five penalties, down from the 13 they committed the previous week.
It's funny how quickly panic turns to pleasure. A week ago, there was plenty of grumbling after the Seahawks' 20-16 loss at Arizona. It seemed like a bad loss to a mediocre team. Now, the Cardinals are 2-0 and just won in New England, and their defense flustered Tom Brady and sacked him four times.
In this long, 16-game season, it's impossible to know whether Arizona will keep it up. But right now, the Cardinals are playing great football, which makes the Seahawks' loss last week more understandable.
So, what does a 1-1 record say about Seattle?
The Seahawks are neither ahead nor behind. They're close to the team you expected. Their defense is carrying the load. Their offense sputters mostly, but if the Seahawks continue to average 148.5 rushing yards per game (seventh in the NFL), they have the foundation for an offense that a rookie quarterback can manage effectively.
They flirted with the danger of facing Green Bay with an 0-2 record, but in their first pressure situation of the season, the Seahawks played inspired football against Dallas. It's as encouraging as last week's loss was disappointing.
There's no need to alter expectations after two weeks. This is a good football team if it stays focused on what it does best and minimizes its weaknesses.