RENTON, Wash. - Outgunning the Lions in a high scoring 48-45 track meet on Sunday, the Seahawks' second win of the 2022 season proved to be one of the best offensive performances in franchise history.
Amassing 555 yards of total offense, including a sterling 320-yard, two-touchdown performance from Geno Smith and a 151-yard, two-touchdown outing from Rashaad Penny, Seattle eclipsed 550 yards for only the sixth time in a single game. Nearly putting up 50 points, Sunday's game marked the first time in team history that the team didn't have at least one punt, as Michael Dickson only saw the field as a holder on field goals and extra points for the first time in his career.
Given their gaudy stat totals, Smith and Penny deservedly have received a bunch of praise and received nominations for the FedEx Air and Ground Players of the Week. But if the Seahawks were going to hand out a game ball, coach Pete Carroll told reporters on Monday they would have had to have five of them for a rapidly improving offensive line that kept the quarterback clean all afternoon and opened up massive run lanes in the second half.
“They did a fantastic job," Carroll gushed. "Working together with the timing of getting the ball out and all of the different actions and movements that Shane [Waldron] had our guys doing helped, but the guys played really consistently across the board. We have to get rid of a couple of penalties and not give them stuff, but as the game wore on, you saw us develop more opportunities in the running game. They just did a really solid job."
As Carroll pointed out, Waldron deserves credit for calling several boot plays that moved the pocket for Smith - who did his part by getting the ball out of his hands quickly with decisive reads - and mixing in play action to help keep Detroit's pass rushers at pay. But a Seattle offensive line that many expected to struggle heading into the season with three new starters continues to get better by week and played a critical part in the team's historic output on Sunday.
Standing tall in the pocket with minimal pressure on him, Smith didn't take a single sack and according to Pro Football Focus, he only was hit twice on 30 drop backs. The Lions mustered just seven pressures on those plays and when they did get to the quarterback, he still completed both passes for first downs to DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, with the latter completion going for 34 yards.
While charting of pressures and quarterback hits has only been done by Pro Football Reference since 2018, Sunday marked only the fourth time in the past five years that the Seahawks allowed three or fewer quarterback hits and no sacks. Most recently, Russell Wilson wasn't sacked and only took three quarterback hits in a Week 14 win over the Texans last season. He also wasn't sacked while taking three or fewer hits in a road win over Washington in 2020 and a home loss to New Orleans in 2019.
Putting the line's performance as a group in perspective, Seattle's 81 percent Pass Block Win Rate ranked first among all teams in Week 4 and according to reporter Brady Henderson, that was the best percentage in a single game for the franchise since ESPN began tracking the data in 2017. They currently rank ninth overall in the metric after four games.
Sticking with status quo, Pro Football Focus wasn't quite as complimentary, giving the Seahawks a 66.1 pass blocking grade as a team, which ranked 13th in the league in Week 4. But that was a marked improvement from the first three games and the highest overall grade they have received thus far this year, improving their season ranking to 23rd.
As for run blocking, Seattle ranks a dreadful 31st on PFF and 28th on ESPN's Run Block Win Rate. Carroll wants to see his team cut down on penalties and consistency has been tougher to come by, especially from the interior. For example, Penny had only eight yards on five carries in the first half on Sunday and if not for Smith's effective scrambling, the team only would have averaged 3.7 yards per carry in the first two quarters.
But coming out of halftime, the line went to work and wore down the Lions defensive front in what could be a major turning point for the group as a whole. Penny exploded for 143 yards in the final two quarters alone, capitalizing on outstanding blocking in front of him to score two long touchdowns and help the Seahawks put the game on ice late.
"The o-line just got it done," Penny said after the game. "That's a young, scary group and the future is bright for them guys. I'm just thankful to run behind them."
If there's a reason to truly be excited about where Seattle is headed as an offense from a short and long-term outlook, it's the positive early returns with rookie tackles Charles Cross and Abraham Lucas performing well as starters.
Along with allowing only three combined pressures in pass protection on Sunday, Cross and Lucas came through with key run blocks to spring Penny on his two touchdowns. Helping put the dagger in Detroit inside three minutes left to play, Lucas drove his defender into the turf on a down block and Cross rushed out in front as a pulling tackle on a counter trey run, allowing the explosive back to accelerate off tackle for a 41-yard score.
While the two youngsters will undoubtedly continue to experience growing pains facing NFL edge defenders, Carroll has been ecstatic with how they have played so far for a group that looks to be building into a formidable one. Possessing all the physical tools to be successful in the league, he sees them becoming more and more comfortable each week, particularly from a communication standpoint.
And the best part? They're only going to keep improving as they gain experience and continue developing chemistry with the rest of the offensive line, an excellent sign for Carroll and the Seahawks in the present and the future as the unit grows into an area of strength on offense.
"They have been really consistent. So, big credit to those guys. That’s a lot to take on and they’re protecting the quarterback well better than we have in past years and we’re expecting to continue to get better too because we know they are just getting started. They’re a very positive thing for us and really happy for those guys. They’re having a blast and they love playing and they’re excited about it. It’s all good.”
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