Snap Count Synopsis: Seahawks Lean on Heavy Formations to Batter Vikings

Corbin Smith

Though the Seahawks found a way to transform a comfortable lead into a cardiac arrest-inducing finish as they seem to do on a weekly basis, they thwarted a late rally by the Vikings to hang on for a 37-30 victory to move into first place in the NFC West.

Checking out the snap counts from CenturyLink Field, here are several takeaways from a crazy Monday night thriller.

  • As Pete Carroll reiterated after the game, the Seahawks don’t have a formula week-to-week to divvy out snaps between running backs Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny. But last night showcased how effective the duo can be complementing one another with contrasting play styles, as they combined for 176 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Carson got dinged up on the game’s opening possession, allowing Penny to play extensive snaps during Seattle’s first several drives. He wound up playing a season-high 47 percent of Seattle’s snaps, amassing 107 total yards and adding a 13-yard touchdown reception on a screen, while Carson played a season-low 31 snaps but still surpassed 100 rushing yards for the fifth time this season. With that type of balance and efficiency, opponents will have their hands full trying to contain the Seahawks’ ground game in the home stretch.
  • Some may call it a bit of a miracle, but the Seahawks weren’t penalized a single time on offense on Monday night. Overall, the officials only threw four flags the entire night, and it might have happened due to cumulative exhaustion from reserve tackle George Fant reporting in as an eligible receiver. In all seriousness, Seattle clearly emphasized rolling with heavy formations featuring Fant and Jamarco Jones as part of its game plan, as both players combined to play 45 offensive snaps as an additional lineman. They also moved linemen around, using unbalanced formations on a few occasions. The strategies paid off in a big way with the Seahawks racking up 218 rushing yards, easily the most the Vikings had surrendered all season long.
  • Despite being ill, receiver Tyler Lockett played 66 out of Seattle’s 75 snaps, but he was held without a catch for the first time this season and didn’t haul in any of his three targets. DK Metcalf picked up a bit of the slack with the star receiver ailing, catching seven passes for 75 yards while playing 60 offensive snaps. A forgotten man in recent weeks, David Moore also picked a great time to show up, hauling in a 60-yard touchdown reception from Russell Wilson and catching two out of four targets despite playing just 10 snaps. Josh Gordon continues to be pretty quiet, as Wilson targeted him just one time on 27 plays. But as he’s done several times already in his brief tenure as a Seahawk, he made the target count, catching a 10-yard slant for a first down.
  • Many questioned whether or not Jadeveon Clowney and Jarran Reed would be on snap counts dealing with their respective injuries. But after being limited at practice during the week, the two standout defenders played more than 40 snaps apiece, contributing three tackles, three quarterback hits, and a forced fumble. Ziggy Ansah also had another excellent game despite playing just 26 snaps, finishing with three quarterback hits and a pass deflection. Rasheem Green was also a beacon of efficiency along the defensive line, forcing a fumble against Dalvin Cook and making three tackles on just 12 total snaps.
  • Playing at less than 100 percent with a hamstring injury, Mychal Kendricks only played 27 out of 55 defensive snaps, but that didn’t stop the Seahawks from using their base 4-3 defense for the majority of the game. Rookie Cody Barton filled in, playing a season-high 10 defensive snaps without recording any statistics. Between the two of them, Seattle had a third linebacker on the field for roughly two-thirds of their defensive plays. When the Seahawks did use an extra back in nickel packages, Akeem King played 18 snaps as the slot cornerback for a second straight week, making a key pass defensed on fourth down against tight end Irv Smith Jr. to ice the game late.
  • Headlined by running back Travis Homer, rookies continue to shine on special teams for Seattle. The sixth-round pick out of Miami bolted 29 yards for a first down on a brilliant fake punt in the fourth quarter and recovered a fumble at the end of regulation to seal the victory. Ugo Amadi and Marquise Blair also played 20 snaps, with each making a tackle in kick/punt coverage. As those players develop, excelling on special teams should open doors to defensive playing time down the road.