Instant Analysis: Seahawks Shake Off Rough Start, Outlast Browns
Continuing to specialize in winning ugly, the Seahawks recovered from a challenging start and a devastating injury to start tight end Will Dissly to hold off the Browns in a 32-28 Week 6 road victory.
Snagging the win in a bizarre, mistake-filled game for players, coaches, and officials alike, coach Pete Carroll's squad move to 5-1 for the first time since 2013 and only the third time in franchise history. Seattle also moved to 3-0 on the road for the first time since 1980.
What stood out in Seattle's fifth win of the season? Here are five takeaways from a back-and-forth affair in Cleveland.
Considering circumstances, Seattle’s pass protection held up fairly well most of the afternoon.
Playing without starting left tackle Duane Brown and right guard D.J. Fluker, a depleted Seahawks offensive line allowed three sacks on Sunday. But overall, the unit did an adequate job keeping Wilson clean most of the contest and right tackle Germain Ifedi made one of the most impressive plays of the day in the third quarter. Facing third and goal from the Browns six-yard line, Wilson dropped back to pass and initially couldn’t find an open receiver. But going against one of the best rushers in the NFL in Myles Garrett, Ifedi shuffled in front of him as the former No. 1 overall pick tried to spin past him, providing another split second for Wilson to find Jaron Brown in the end zone. The scoring toss put the Seahawks out in front 25-20, proving to be a critical play in a game full of them.
This is Russell Wilson’s world right now and we’re all simply living in it.
What more can be said about Wilson’s performance at this point? He’s now gone six games without an interception and with two more passing touchdowns, his stat line sits at close to 1,700 passing yards and 16 passing touchdowns. His finest throw came late in the first half, as he took a shot from an oncoming defender and still threw a perfect strike to Brown in the end zone for a 17-yard score. Interestingly, Wilson admitted after the game that his in-helmet communication device wasn't working on that particular drive. But it didn't matter, as he called the shots and drove his team down the field anyway. He wrapped up the victory completing 23 of 33 pass attempts for 295 yards and a passer rating of 117.6. Additionally, he ran for a 16-yard touchdown to open Seattle’s scoring and rushed for 31 yards as he continues to build his case for league MVP honors.
Until it actually happens, it’s becoming harder to believe the Seahawks pass rush will awaken.
Coach Pete Carroll and his players continue to say week after week that the pass rush will soon come to life and they’re on the verge of breaking out harassing opposing quarterbacks. But the words have been empty ones to this point. One week after failing to record a sack against the Rams, the Seahawks didn’t register a single quarterback hit on Baker Mayfield, who completed 22 of 37 passes for 249 yards and a touchdown. Three different times this season, Seattle hasn’t been able to get a single sack and the inability to disrupt quarterbacks remains the team’s biggest flaw heading towards the midway point of the season. The return of defensive tackle Jarran Reed should help next week, but the Seahawks simply must have more production from their edge rushers to be a legitimate title contender.
Turnovers saved the day, erasing at least nine points off the scoreboard for Cleveland, if not more.
According to linebackers K.J. Wright and Bobby Wagner, the Seahawks created turnovers in bunches at practice this week, which wound up being a sign of things to come on Sunday. Seattle had only two interceptions from the secondary during the first five games of the season, but Tre Flowers and Tedric Thompson doubled that total picking off Mayfield once apiece. Seattle scored seven points off those two turnovers and fortunes continued to be favorable after halftime. When defensive end Ziggy Ansah stripped the football out of running back Nick Chubb’s grasp after catching a screen pass and recovered the fumble, Wilson promptly marched the Seahawks 58 yards on a seven play drive, cashing in on the turnover with a touchdown to Brown. Wright sealed the deal late in regulation, snatching a deflected pass off the hands of Dontrell Hilliard deep in Cleveland territory.
Special teams, particularly coverage units, continue to be a problematic area for the Seahawks.
For the second time in four games, the Seahawks surrendered a big return on special teams, nearly allowing Hilliard to take the opening kickoff back to the house. The Browns immediately punched it in with a Chubb seven-yard touchdown to take an early 7-0 lead. On Seattle’s first drive, kicker Jason Myers badly missed an extra point after Wilson scrambled for a touchdown. Then, with the Seahawks backed into their own end zone in the fourth quarter, Michael Dickson shanked a punt that only went to the 25-yard line, setting up the Browns with premium field position for their final touchdown drive to take a brief 28-25 lead. If you're looking for a silver lining, receiver David Moore did block a punt, so not all was putrid on special teams. As they’ve done all year, Seattle found a way to work around the mistakes they made and left Cleveland with a victory, but they can’t continue to struggle in the third phase of the game if they want to win a division title.