Despite leading most of the first half, the Seahawks allowed a late touchdown to running back Alvin Kamara and entered the break trailing the Saints 10-7 on Monday Night Football.
Making his second straight start, Geno Smith completed six out of 12 pass attempts for 110 yards and threw an 84-yard touchdown pass to DK Metcalf to pace Seattle. Leading the way for New Orleans, Kamara amassed 138 total yards and Jameis Winston completed 13 out of 20 passes for 164 yards and a touchdown.
Here are three quick halftime takeaways from Lumen Field:
1. Rain, what rain? DK Metcalf puts the 'Hawks offense on his back.
Offensive highlights were few and far between for Seattle in the first two quarters, as four of its first five drives resulted in Michael Dickson punts and netted 57 total yards. One promising drive was derailed by a taunting penalty on tight end Gerald Everett. But the one explosive play the team did generate will be shown on replay for years to come with DK Metcalf making two of the best defensive backs in the NFL look silly. Timing his leap perfectly with cornerback Marshon Lattimore in coverage, Metcalf reeled in throw from Smith, broke through the defender's tackle attempt, and then stiff-armed safety Marcus Williams, breaking away with his world class speed for an 84-yard touchdown reception to ignite the crowd. Metcalf's spectacular reception is the third-longest in franchise history, behind only a 90-yard touchdown pass from Seneca Wallace to Koren Robinson in 2008 and an 87-yard touchdown pass from Matt Hasselbeck to Ben Obomanu in 2010.
2. Swarming to the football in droves, Seattle's run defense came to play, but...
As illustrated by Pete Carroll's unprompted remarks earlier this week on the importance of Kamara to the Saints offensive attack, the Seahawks came into the night prioritizing slowing down the dual-threat back. On the ground, they did their job, limiting the Pro Bowl runner to 29 yards on 13 carries. Leading the way, defensive tackle Al Woods had a monster half with several key run stops and Bobby Wagner posted a team-high seven tackles. But despite keeping Kamara in check as a runner, the defense suffered from multiple coverage mishaps against him as a receiver, allowing him to amass 109 receiving yards on eight receptions. He broke loose on a 23-yard screen with no Seattle defenders in the same zip code and then on New Orleans' final scoring drive of the half, he beat safety Ryan Neal across the middle for a 31-yard gain and capped off the drive breaking Neal's tackle attempt for a 13-yard touchdown. For the Seahawks to have a chance to win in the second half, they can't afford to let Kamara dominate the game as a receiver out of the backfield and must make adjustments to account for him.
3. Neither offense will have an easy time finding much traction in these elements.
Prior to kickoff, sheets of rain came pouring down to the field and at times, they looked to be going sideways due to strong winds. Throughout the first half, a light drizzle came down and the wind impacted both quarterbacks, leading to a few errant throws. Combined, Smith and Winston completed 19 passes for 274 yards and a pair of scores, but most of that yardage came either on Metcalf's long touchdown or Kamara picking up yardage after quick dump off passes. Unless the weather changes dramatically after halftime, throwing the ball downfield beyond 15-20 yards will remain a difficult task and each team will have to lean on their respective run games and the short/intermediate passing game to be able to sustain drives. Based on how the first half played out, that would favor the Saints, who found a bit of a groove late in the half getting the ball to Kamara and have a quarterback in Winston who seems to be getting more comfortable after a rocky start.