Facing a Cardinals squad missing their starting quarterback and best receiver, the Seahawks were presented with a great chance to get back in the win column in front of their home crowd. But through two quarters, they haven't taken advantage of their opportunities to this point and entered halftime trailing their short-handed NFC West rivals 13-6.
Enduring another quiet half, Russell Wilson completed six out of 11 passes for 94 yards and Tyler Lockett stood out as the lone bright spot for a quiet Seattle offense with three catches for 67 yards. Meanwhile, backup Colt McCoy completed over 80 percent of his passes and threw a pair of touchdowns to tight end Zach Ertz to help the Cardinals build an early two-score lead.
Here are three quick halftime observations from Lumen Field:
1. The offense remains mired in quicksand, particularly the passing game.
For a second straight week, even with Wilson back under center, the Seahawks floundered on offense throughout the half. Rashaad Penny broke loose for an 18-yard gain on the first play of the game, only to exit with a hamstring injury. On the next three plays, Wilson was sacked twice, including getting blasted by an unblocked Isaiah Simmons to force a punt. The team advanced past midfield on its second drive behind strong running from Alex Collins, only for a botched pitch from Wilson to bounce off of the back for a 12-yard loss.
After being gifted outstanding starting field position for their third possession, Wilson found Tyler Lockett for a 25-yard completion down to the Cardinals nine-yard line, but two incompletions stalled the drive and the Seahawks were forced to settle for a 27-yard field goal by Jason Myers. Sputtering in the red zone again, they couldn't finish off a drive that including a 36-yard completion to Lockett with Wilson throwing to errant end zone incompletions, leading to another short Myers field goal.
2. Unable to capitalize on facing a backup quarterback, Seattle's defense turned in a disappointing effort.
Minus Murray, the Cardinals scored only 10 points against the Panthers last weekend. But while their explosive passing game has been compromised to an extent with McCoy at the helm, the veteran signal caller has been very efficient in the first two quarters, calmly completing check down after check down while cashing in on a few big play opportunities against the Seahawks. He finished the first half completing 19 out of 23 passes for 177 yards, a healthy 7.7 yards per attempt, and a pair of touchdowns to Ertz.
What's been the biggest issue for Seattle? The team's season-long issue stopping screens has remained problematic with running back James Conner catching four passes for 34 yards and receiver Rondale Moore also doing some damage on quick screens. Meanwhile, third down has been a nightmare for Ken Norton Jr.'s unit, as the Cardinals went 5-7 converting those opportunities into first downs and also were gifted a new set of downs on a red zone pass interference penalty by cornerback Tre Brown against A.J. Green on their opening touchdown drive. Missed tackles and poor pursuit angles can also be checked off as significant concerns in the opening half.
3. Injuries at cornerback have put Seattle in a precarious situation against an Air Raid offense.
Statistically, the Cardinals haven't done much damage through the air with receivers on the outside, primarily working the short-to-intermediate passing game on dump offs to running backs and tight ends as well as leaning on the screen game. But already without D.J. Reed, who is sitting out with a groin injury, the Seahawks could be in deep trouble at cornerback in the second half and beyond after losing Tre Brown in the second quarter. The rising rookie defender landed awkwardly while trying to defend a deep ball against Green, who wound up reeling in the throw for a 31-yard completion. After his left leg tucked underneath him on the play, he rolled over grimacing in pain and hobbled off the field to the locker room.
Brown's departure coupled with Reed being out left the Seahawks with veterans Sidney Jones and Bless Austin manning the two outside cornerback spots. Though neither gave up any big plays downfield, McCoy picked on both in the quick passing game and Austin in particular missed a tackle late in the first half against Antoine Wesley that resulted in a 20-yard completion. Even against McCoy, without both of their starting corners, the Cardinals may be able to open up the skies a bit in the second half as they try to finish off an unlikely win without their star quarterback.