With their offense stuck in neutral most of the night, the Seahawks came up short for a third straight week in a 13-10 loss to the Saints on Monday Night Football, falling to 2-5 on the season and putting their playoff hopes in major jeopardy.
Which players stood out as the biggest stars in Seattle's latest defeat at Lumen Field? Here are my top five grades along with other notable performances.
Overall Grade: 86.5 (Run Defense 90, Tackling 87, Coverage 83)
Brooks wasn't perfect by any means, as he allowed a block to seal him outside and create a crease for running back Alvin Kamara to pick up 23 yards on a screen pass in the second quarter and allowed five completions in coverage. But while he was only credited with five combined tackles, the second-year linebacker played a starring role in limiting Kamara to 2.6 yards per carry on the evening. He was flying to the football all night, including stuffing the dynamic runner at the line of scrimmage on an impressive third down stop in the third quarter. On the previous possession, he prevented a potential touchdown in the red zone, rising up to swat away a pass from Jameis Winston in the end zone while playing his hook responsibility in coverage. Adding to his stellar day, he recovered a fumble by tight end Adam Trautman to give the Seahawks phenomenal field position late in the third quarter, setting them up for a Jason Myers field goal.
Overall Grade: 86.0 (Receiving 93, Run Blocking 70*)
*Weighted on 18 run blocking snaps
The lone offensive standout for the Seahawks on an evening where the unit struggled to do much of anything against a stout Saints defense, Metcalf provided the only fireworks early in the first quarter when he perfectly timed his jump to haul in a pass from Geno Smith on a go route against cornerback Marshon Lattimore in coverage. After breaking free from Lattimore's shoestring tackle attempt, the All-Pro receiver then stiff armed safety Marcus Williams and raced 84 yards for a touchdown to the delight of 68,000-plus fans. Mystifyingly, with Seattle leaning heavily on the run game with little success, Metcalf wouldn't be targeted by Smith again until the 11:57 mark in the fourth quarter and while it wasn't his fault, he would only catch one of his last four targets in the final period. Adding a 12-yard slant for a first down, he finished the game with two receptions for 96 yards, accounting for nearly half of the Seahawks total offense.
Overall Grade: 84.0 (Run Defense 92, Tackling 86, Pass Rush 75)
Playing some of his best football as of late, Ford held serve at the line of scrimmage and used his elite quickness to knife into the backfield a few times to make plays on Kamara. He finished with six combined tackles, second on the team behind only Bobby Wagner, and produced five run stops for three or less yards. His best play came midway through the second quarter after the Saints had drove down to the Seahawks one-yard line, as he avoided a cut block by the right guard and brought down Kamara for a one-yard loss, eventually forcing the opposition to settle for a short field goal. Though he had a quiet night as a rusher for the most part, Ford did generate one pressure that led to an incomplete pass from Winston.
Overall Grade: 83.0 (Run Defense 84, Tackling 88, Pass Rush 77)
Without a single sack through six games, Dunlap entered Monday's game facing plenty of criticism and the veteran responded with his best performance of the season. Finishing with five tackles on the night, he did a quality job setting the edge on seven run plays, including helping bring down Kamara on two run stops of three yards or less. As a rusher, he still needs to win more one-on-one battles and find a way to be more consistent disrupting the pocket, but he did find his way to get to Winston in a crucial moment. With the game knotted up at 10 with 2:16 to go in regulation, he bull rushed tackle Ryan Ramczyk into the backfield and teamed up with fellow defensive end Rasheem Green for a third down split sack, helping keep the Saints out of the end zone. He added an additional quarterback pressure on 19 pass rushing reps.
Overall Grade: 82.0 (Run Defense 82, Tackling 85, Pass Rush 78, Coverage 83)
Struggling to make the impact plays expected from the NFL's highest-paid safety, Adams has been subject to much scrutiny during the first six weeks of the season. But against the Saints, like Dunlap, he turned in his best game of the year so far with a well-rounded effort. Surprisingly, he only finished with three tackles and did leave two tackles on the field, but there were several run plays his penetration into the backfield ultimately created tackle opportunities for teammates. Blitzing six times, he generated a pair of pressures, getting one hit on Winston to force an incompletion. Early in the fourth quarter, he came on a delayed blitz on 3rd and 12 and swatted away Winston's pass in the backfield, leading to a Saints punt. In coverage, Adams didn't allow a single reception and his best play of the night came midway through the third quarter. Playing high safety in a Cover 2 look, he spun around and exhibited outstanding closing speed to make a hit on Kenny Stills, who was unable to reel in a deep ball from Winston on third down.
Other Notable Performances
Several Seahawks defenders narrowly missed out on the top five, including Wagner, whose overall grade (81.0) was hurt by two missed tackles on Kamara. While he benefited from an errant throw by Winston when he was beaten once in coverage and drew a defensive pass interference penalty, cornerback D.J. Reed performed well, allowing only one reception for eight yards and earning an 80.0 overall mark. Highly disruptive in the trenches all night and receiving a 79.0 overall grade, Al Woods likely would have joined Poona Ford in the top five if not for being penalized three times, including an inexplicable encroachment penalty on a field goal attempt late in the fourth quarter. Green was involved in two split sacks and generated four pressures, but he was pushed around a bit at times in the run game and received a 77.0 overall grade, while safety Quandre Diggs (75.0 coverage grade) was aided by Winston's inaccuracy on two open post routes.
Away from Metcalf, no other offensive players on the Seahawks received higher than a 78.0 overall grade. Leading the offensive line with a 78.0 overall mark, Gabe Jackson stood out as the only blocker who held up well in pass protection, allowing only one pressure on 28 passing plays. Jamarco Jones held up fairly well in Damien Lewis' place, making a few key run blocks and allowing just two pressures in pass protection to earn a 76.0 grade. Continuing to struggle, tackle Duane Brown yielded four pressures and a sack while also failing to create push in the run game, receiving a 68.0 mark. Center Kyle Fuller regressed back to his early season performance, getting eaten alive by the Saints interior rushers and blitzing linebackers while giving up three pressures and a sack. Turning in Seattle's second-longest play of the night, Freddie Swain received a 75.0 overall mark after finishing with four receptions for 39 yards. Though it wasn't his fault, Tyler Lockett was a non-factor, catching two passes for 12 yards and receiving a 66.0 grade. None of Seattle's tight ends did much either, with Gerald Everett catching three passes for just 11 yards and drawing a costly taunting penalty while receiving a 68.0 overall grade.