Seattle Seahawks safety Ryan Neal (35) intercepts a pass during the first half of Seattle’s 31-23 victory over the Miami Dolphins on Sunday at Hard Rock Stadium. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Seattle Seahawks safety Ryan Neal (35) intercepts a pass during the first half of Seattle’s 31-23 victory over the Miami Dolphins on Sunday at Hard Rock Stadium. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Grading the Seahawks’ 31-23 victory over the Dolphins

Though it wasn’t a perfect performance, Seattle earned solid grades all-around in improving to 4-0.

Here’s how the Seattle Seahawks grade out in their 31-23 victory over the Miami Dolphins on Sunday at Hard Rock Stadium:

OFFENSE

Somehow Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson was 24-for-34 for 360 yards and two touchdowns, and it was an off day. Wilson wasn’t perfection the way he was the first three weeks, but he was still good enough, especially after Miami pulled within 17-15 midway through the fourth quarter. The interception in the end zone in the third quarter hurt and helped keep Miami in the game. But the Seahawks still racked up 441 yards, went 4-for-6 in the red zone, and the execution at the tail end of the first half and in the fourth quarter was exquisite.

Grade: B

DEFENSE

This was a classic Seattle defensive performance, as the Seahawks allowed Miami everything it wanted underneath, prevented the big play over the top, and when the field was squeezed as the Dolphins neared the end zone Seattle forced Miami to settle for field goals. The defense came up with two interceptions, in both instances setting the Seahawks up on short fields that resulted in touchdowns. Linebacker K.J. Wright reminded everyone how good he is with a series of big hits and passes defensed. And Seattle accomplished this despite three starters out injured. Allowing the Dolphins to march down the field for the TD that made it interesting at the end was the lowlight.

Grade: B+

SPECIAL TEAMS

Special teams didn’t play a big role in this one, but Seattle had a good moment when Jason Myers drilled a 54-yard field goal at the end of the first quarter. Punter Michael Dickson wasn’t called upon often (just two punts), and he uncharacteristically wasn’t able to pin the Dolphins deep on one of those occasions. Kick returner Travis Homer had a hiccup in the second quarter, allowing the ball to bounce and forcing the Seahawks to start the drive in a hole. There was no drama on Miami’s late onside-kick attempt.

Grade: B

COACHING

Need any more evidence about the change in mindset offensively? Just look at Seattle choosing to try for more points (successfully) at the end of the first half when having the length of the field to travel in just 24 seconds, and also going for it (unsuccessfully) on fourth-and-3 from the 18 in the second quarter. While it didn’t always work, it’s the aggressive style both players and fans love. The strategy to give up the underneath play and prevent big gains worked well defensively. Failing to get the ball to Tyler Lockett until the fourth quarter was curious.

Grade: A-

OVERALL

There are those who are going to say that Seattle just can’t handle prosperity, allowing an inferior team to hang around for most of the game, then letting things get interesting again at the end by giving up the late touchdown that made it a one-score game. But traveling clear across the country and playing a 10 a.m. Pacific Time start is never easy, yet the Seahawks have now won their last 10 10 a.m. starts. Seattle is now 4-0, and at the quarter pole the Seahawks have to be considered one of the league’s leading contenders.

Grade: B

– Nick Patterson, Herald writer

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