RENTON — Following his team’s dominant Week 3 win over Jacksonville, Earl Thomas expressed disappointment in the performance of the Seahawks’ defense.
“In my mind, I think we should hold teams under 115 passing yards, if they get that,” Thomas said after the Jaguars piled up some garbage-time points and yards. “So I was kind of upset about that.”
A few days later, cornerback Richard Sherman was asked about that rather ambitious goal, and he was quick to correct his teammate.
“Under 100,” Sherman said. “That’s the kind of standard we have in our room. We hope to hold people under 100 yards, and anything over that is kind of a disappointment.”
So if anything over 100 passing yards is a disappointment, what the heck are we supposed to make of Seattle’s last two games?
In Houston, the Seahawks allowed 226 passing yards and 20 points in the first half alone, and while they responded with a shutout in the second half and overtime, the next game brought more big plays and points from Indianapolis’ passing attack. Colts quarterback Andrew Luck passed for 229 yards — a modest total in today’s pass-happy NFL, but still more than the Seahawks want to allow — as well as touchdowns of 73 and 29 yards. Big plays like that are a rarity against Pete Carroll’s defense (T.Y. Hilton’s 73-yard catch was the longest the Seahawks have allowed since 2007).
“No team plays well when you give up big plays, and we have been out of that mode for a long time around here, and we have really come to expect that we’re going to make the right choices and decisions and understand the game so that doesn’t happen,” Carroll said. “So it’s crucial. It’ll be crucial this week that we do. We need to turn that around.”
So you’d better believe Seattle’s defense, and the members of the secondary in particular, are eager to prove the past two games were a fluke and not a sign that teams have figured out how to move the ball on them.
Actually, fluke isn’t a fair description. Matt Schaub, despite his current status as the league’s most maligned quarterback not named Eli Manning, was very good in the first half in Houston, consistently making accurate throws that were good enough to beat tight coverage. And Andrew Luck is quickly becoming one of the league’s best quarterbacks; the kind of player who will occasionally make even the best defenses tip their cap to a job well done.
“It’s the league man, everybody’s good,” cornerback Brandon Browner said. “You feel me? They made a few plays that they were supposed to make to get the W. I don’t think it has anything to do with us other than we got out of position on a few plays and they made the play.”
This Seahawks defense, and the “Legion of Boom” secondary in particular, is unquestionably one of the league’s best, but the realities of the NFL, as Browner notes, mean that they won’t live up to their absurdly high standards every week. Occasionally communication breakdowns will lead to receivers running free, or to touchdowns that leave fans scratching their heads. But it doesn’t mean the defense wont’ continue to hold itself to an absurdly high standard and work hard to fix what went wrong over the past couple of weeks.
“Guys just need to focus in and pay attention to details, and we’ll be fine,” said safety Earl Thomas. “We kind of killed ourselves. We gave that game away, us in the secondary.
“It’s football, and you learn. We know this journey wasn’t going just smooth sailing; we’re going to have some bumps on the road. We’re excited to get back up there and get back to our winning ways. … It’s just a humbling experience, so we’re just excited for another opportunity.”
Carroll referred to last week’s game as a potential “wake-up shock” for a defense that had so rarely experienced mental lapses before giving up some big plays in the past two games. That experience should help sharpen the defense’ focus.
“It’s definitely something that we can grow from, something that we’re going to us as motivation to keep us on our toes,” cornerback Richard Sherman said. “You always need games like that to get you back on your toes, to get you back on your P’s and Q’s, and I think it’s going to be a fun game this weekend.”
Herald Writer John Boyle: firstname.lastname@example.org.