Coach Pete Carroll has long argued football games can’t be won in the first half, but that’s exactly what the Seahawks did on Sunday, as their 24-point halftime lead proved to be just enough cushion to hold on for a 27-20 win over the Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Checking out Seattle’s snap counts from Atlanta, here are several key takeaways heading towards the second half of the 2019 regular season.
- The Seahawks entered this season believing they’d have one of the best running back duos in the NFL with Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny complimenting one another. Unfortunately, Penny has missed four games this year with a hamstring injury, preventing the “thunder and lightning” package from producing as expected. On Sunday, the team finally got a taste of what the combo could do. With most of the yardage coming in the first half, Carson battered the Rams with 90 rushing yards and scored his third touchdown of the season. Though he played only 18 snaps on Sunday, a healthy Penny rushed for 55 yards on just eight carries and picked up first downs on three of those carries, including an explosive 17-yard run.
- Thanks to injuries as well as building a 24-point lead at one point, Seattle played a bit of musical chairs along the offensive line on Sunday. Germain Ifedi and D.J. Fluker were the only starters who played all 61 of the Seahawks offensive snaps. After Justin Britt left on the opening drive with a likely season-ending knee injury, Joey Hunt replaced him in the lineup, playing 90 percent of Seattle’s total snaps in his absence. After moving in front by three scores, George Fant slid to left tackle and replaced Brown, who is still not 100 percent recovered from a bicep injury, for a couple of drives. Once the Falcons started cutting into the lead, the veteran checked back in and played the remainder of the game. The Seahawks also rotated Jamarco Jones in at left guard for Mike Iupati, playing him 10 snaps as a reward for his stellar play subbing for Fluker the past few weeks.
- For the second straight week, David Moore played 30 offensive snaps and saw the field for a season-high 49 percent of Seattle’s total plays. Now several weeks removed from a broken humerus bone that cost him the first two regular season games, Russell Wilson has been looking for Moore with greater frequency, though the two have only connected on 47 percent of their targets thus far. The third-year receiver’s ability to create after the catch adds a different dimension that veteran Jaron Brown doesn’t offer and after seeing Brown receive only 17 snaps on Sunday, it’s worth wondering if Moore has surpassed him on the depth chart for good.
- Even with Quinton Jefferson inactive due to an oblique injury and the Seahawks racing out to a huge first half lead, rookie defensive end L.J. Collier still played only 14 defensive snaps on Sunday. Instead, Rasheem Green and Branden Jackson played 42 and 37 snaps respectively. The first-round pick out of TCU hasn’t been able to take advantage of limited reps to create more opportunities for himself, as he’s produced two tackles and zero quarterback pressures in five games. Now halfway through the 2019 season and still struggling to carve out a role in Seattle’s defensive line rotation, it’s becoming more and more likely Collier won’t make much of an impact in his first year with the team.
- Opening the second half with a big lead, the Seahawks expected the Falcons to come out throwing and adjusted accordingly on defense. Cornerback Jamar Taylor played a season-high 35 snaps, or 44 percent of Seattle’s defensive plays. Most of that work came after halftime with Atlanta slinging the ball over the field in an effort to make a comeback. With Taylor on the field for most of the final two quarters, linebacker Mychal Kendricks played just 61 percent of the Seahawks defensive snaps, his second-lowest play percentage this season. Rookie linebacker Cody Barton also spelled K.J. Wright briefly in the second quarter, playing five defensive snaps and making his first NFL tackle.