Opening the 2021 season on a near-perfect note, led by four Russell Wilson touchdown passes, the Seahawks went into Lucas Oil Stadium and left with a convincing 28-16 victory over the Colts.
Which players stood out as the biggest stars in Seattle's Week 1 triumph? Here are my top five grades from Sunday's opener along with other notable performances.
Overall Grade: 94.0 (Passing 97, Rushing 91)
Playing in his first game orchestrating Shane Waldron's offense, it's not hyperbole to say Wilson turned in one of the most efficient performances of his career. Throwing dimes from the pocket at all levels, he completed 18 out of 23 passes for 254 yards and four touchdowns, posting a 152.3 passer rating, the second-highest he's ever registered in a single game. He reaffirmed his greatness as a deep ball passer as well, hitting Tyler Lockett perfectly in stride with a 69-yard rainbow that nearly scraped the roof at Lucas Oil Stadium. While he took three sacks on the afternoon, one of those came late in the game when he gave himself up to keep the clock running. On Seattle's first drive, he picked up 11 yards on a third down scramble to move the chains, showing he's still slithery maneuvering out of the pocket and doing damage as a runner.
Overall Grade: 90.0 (Receiving 94, Run Blocking 70*)
*Weighted with 19 rushing plays
Considering how much Lockett dominated the Colts' secondary on Sunday, it's hard to believe he actually only caught four passes on the afternoon. But he made all of those opportunities count, starting with a miraculous 23-yard touchdown grab late in the first quarter to give the Seahawks their first lead. Taking advantage of a Cover 0 look, Wilson purposefully lofted the pass to the receiver's right, shielding away the cornerback in coverage. Putting pre-game practice to good use, Lockett turned his head both directions trying to track the football and somehow managed to reel in the pass for six points. Later, he put his elite speed on display on the 69-yard touchdown and another one of his receptions moved the chains to extend Seattle's final scoring drive, which was capped off by a 15-yard DK Metcalf touchdown. He finished with his 11th 100-yard receiving performance and seventh in the past four seasons.
Overall Grade: 88.0 (Run Defense 93, Tackling 90, Pass Rush 81)
As Pete Carroll mentioned after the game, the Seahawks expect All-Pro linebacker Bobby Wagner to lead the team in tackles like he did with 13 of them in the opener. But nobody could have predicted the massive 345-pound Mone stuffing the stat sheet as he did in a fantastic effort against a talented Colts offensive line. Seemingly around the football on every one of his 35 defensive snaps, he racked up five tackles on Sunday, including bringing down Jonathan Taylor on three straight run plays during a third quarter drive that culminated with Carson Wentz muffing the snap on an attempted fourth down quarterback sneak. Mone didn't just surprise with his gaudy numbers as a tackler against the run either. Exhibiting great versatility for a player of his size, he generated three pressures as an interior pass rusher, including blasting Wentz with the force of a flying refrigerator to coax a 2nd and 12 incompletion in the third quarter. The only thing lowering his grade was an encroachment penalty, which was still entertaining to watch in real time seeing him fly off the ball.
Overall Grade: 85.0 (Run Defense 86, Tackling 84, Pass Rush 88, Coverage 55*)
*Weighted for two plays in coverage
For those wondering about the true value of the preseason, Green showed strong performances in exhibition contests can translate to when the real bullets start flying in Week 1. Playing 53 snaps, including 13 reduced inside as a defensive tackle, the fourth-year defender contributed in all phases of the game, producing three tackles, two batted passes, a sack, and three quarterback pressures. He got rolling early, beating left tackle Julie'n Davenport inside to quickly swallow Wentz for a third down sack to force the Colts to punt on their second possession early in the second quarter. Inside a minute left to play in the half, he found his way to Wentz again, decking the quarterback as he threw after powering his way inside past the left guard. He gave up a pair of receptions in coverage, but he can be forgiven for those given the unfair matchups he was tasked with. The light switch finally seems to have come on and the former USC star looks poised to have a significant role along Seattle's defensive line moving forward.
Overall Grade: 84.5 (Receiving 88, Run Blocking 81)
Arriving in Seattle alongside Waldron after the two spent the past four seasons together in Los Angeles, expectations for Everett were through the roof, in part because coach Pete Carroll identified him as a strong breakout candidate multiple times this offseason. While one of his best plays, a 21-yard reception on a dump off pass where he broke multiple tackles and picked up big yardage after the catch, was negated by a penalty, he couldn't have played much better in his debut. Waldron moved him all over the formation, as he saw action out of the backfield, as an inline tight end, out of the slot, and even playing out wide as a receiver. It didn't take long for him to score his first touchdown either, as Wilson connected with him on a nine-yard slant early in the second quarter to extend the Seahawks lead to 11. Everett also flashed his underrated blocking skills, most notably executing a perfect kick out block to spring rookie receiver Dee Eskridge for a 13-yard gain on a fly sweep.
Other Notable Performances
Most weeks, Darrell Taylor and Benson Mayowa would have been in the top five with outstanding efforts on Sunday. On 12 pass rush attempts, Taylor generated three pressures and made a critical fourth down sack on Carson Wentz after abusing right tackle Braden Smith with a bull rush, earning a stellar 85.0 pass rush grade and 82.0 overall grade. Mayowa was very active in the run game and rushing the passer, bringing down Taylor for a three-yard loss and sacking Wentz midway through the third quarter on a well-executed stunt, receiving an 83.0 overall mark. Jordyn Brooks missed three tackles, which hurt his overall grade, but he performed well in coverage, including staying with tight end Mo Alie-Cox to force a third down incompletion. He finished with a respectable 81.0 overall grade, while Wagner earned an 80.0 for his effort with nearly 15 stops. Jamal Adams and Quandre Diggs didn't get their hands on the football once, but both were excellent against the run, combining to make 17 tackles and receiving 81.5 and 80.0 grades respectively.
On offense, despite being shutout in the first half, Metcalf came to life in the second half with six receptions for 60 yards and a touchdown. He also made a couple nice blocks in the run game, earning himself an 83.0 overall grade. Along the offensive line, Duane Brown was near-flawless in pass protection while allowing no pressures, but a few missed blocks in the run game trimmed his grade down to 80.0 overall. Brandon Shell was equally impressive in pass pro, yielding zero pressures at the right tackle spot and receiving a 78.0 mark. The center duo of Kyle Fuller and Ethan Pocic underwhelmed, allowing four pressures and two quarterback hits. Fuller was more productive in the run game, earning a respectable 76.0 grade in that category to salvage his overall score, while Pocic received a 40.0 overall mark on a handful of snaps.