SEATTLE — First, the disclaimer: It was against the New York Jets, who have serious issues on offense.
Even so, the Seattle Seahawks’ defensive performance on Sunday in a 28-7 victory was about as good as you’ll see in the NFL.
“We really rode the defense today,” Seattle head coach Pete Carroll said. “They did a great job, gave up next to nothing.”
The Seattle defense allowed 11 first downs, 185 total yards, and no points as the Jets’ lone touchdown came on a turnover.
Asked if they have arrived and are where they want to be, Seahawks defenders said no.
But they had a hard time saying what needs to improve.
“We’ll probably have to nit pick things from this game because it was an excellent effort from everybody,” safety Earl Thomas said. “But, all in all, we can always get better.”
The Jets (3-6) entered the game at CenturyLink Field ranked 27th in the NFL in total yards with 317.4 per game and 21st in points scored with 21.0, and the Seahawks held them well below even those numbers.
New York coach Rex Ryan was among the impressed.
When asked why his offense played so poorly, Ryan immediately turned to the Seattle defense.
“You have to give the opponent some credit,” he said. “Those guys get after the quarterback pretty good, and I think if you’re short of that you don’t give the opponent enough credit, and obviously they deserve a lot of credit.”
Seattle (6-4) was especially stout in the second half, during which the Jets had 73 total yards and only one play of more than 11 yards.
“Our defense has a lot of great players, and with such great players it’s just matter of time before the chemistry and everything comes together,” Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman said. “It’s just a matter of time before things come together and everybody starts working in cohesion, and that’s what happened today.”
Sherman’s name came up often during postgame interviews. The second-year cornerback out of Stanford had an interception, a sack, a forced fumble, and three passes defensed.
“I thought Richard Sherman really stood out today,” Carroll said. “Sometimes you just see the interceptions that these guys make, but he played a great football game today, not just the pick and the sack that he had, but a bunch of other things, too.
“I was really fired up to see him play like that,” Carroll said.
Sherman’s interception at the goal line snuffed out New York’s only potential scoring drive early in the second quarter.
He baited Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez into throwing out into the right flat, stepped in front of wide receiver Dustin Keller, and nearly broke a long return except for the fact that he stepped out of bounds — just barely — at the 3-yard line.
“I backed off a little. I lagged off the flat route hoping he (Sanchez) would throw it and I could get a good jump on it,” Sherman said. “His only read was the flat route, and I got a good jump on it.”
According to Sherman, the interception, his fourth of the season, atoned for Seattle’s one defensive breakdown, a 43-yard pass from Sanchez to a wide open Jeremy Kerley that set up first-and-goal from the Seattle 7.
Erase that one play, and Sherman said the defense played a near-perfect game. That was the only time New York got inside the Seattle 32-yard line.
“We gave up a deep ball. It’s far from it (perfection) when you give up a deep ball,” he said. “We’re far from it. We seek perfection, and that was far from a perfect game.”
Fine, but it was pretty darn good. The Seahawks came into the game ranked fourth in yards allowed and third in points allowed, and both of those rankings are likely to improve this week.
“I think we’re making strides,” rookie defensive end Bruce Irvin said. “I feel like we’ve got the best defense in the league when everybody’s clicking and everybody’s doing their assignment.
“Today is just another sign of us being one of the dominant defense that we want to be.”