Here’s how the Seattle Seahawks grade out in their 32-28 victory over the Cleveland Browns on Sunday at FirstEnergy Stadium:
Another week, another masterful performance by Russell Wilson. Seattle’s quarterback was in control throughout, going 23-for-33 for 295 yards and two touchdowns and running for another score. He still has yet to throw an interception this season. Running back Chris Carson had his third straight 100-yard performance, finishing with 124 yards on 24 carries and scoring a TD as the Seahawks displayed excellent run-pass balance. And the offensive execution was perfect at the end of each half, with a crucial 88-yard TD drive just before halftime, and two first downs to kill off the clock at the end of regulation.
In the first quarter, the Seahawks played about as poorly on defense as possible, allowing the Browns to score touchdowns on each of their first three drives — something Seattle hadn’t allowed an opponent to do since 2008. The Seahawks generated no pass rush as Cleveland quarterback Baker Mayfield wasn’t hit once, and when the defense needed to pick up the special teams following a poor punt in the fourth quarter, it instead allowed Cleveland to score on just two plays to take the lead. But four takeaways are huge, even if some of them were gifts from the Browns, and the Seahawks also made a big-time goal-line stand in the fourth quarter.
Had the Seahawks lost this game, blame could have been placed on the shoulders of the special teams. On the game’s opening kickoff the tone was set when there was a huge hole in coverage, allowing Dontrell Hilliard a 74-yard return. Punter Michael Dickson shanked a punt from his own end zone in the fourth quarter, setting the Browns up on a short field that led to the go-ahead touchdown. Kicker Jason Myers made his field goals, but he also sliced an extra point wide. David Moore’s blocked punt was a bright spot, but for the most part Seattle’s special team’s weren’t so special.
Though it took a while, credit the Seattle coaches for eventually hammering Cleveland with the run game after the Browns allowed San Francisco to rush for 275 yards last week. The play calls in the two-minute drill just before halftime were perfect as the Seahawks turned what could have been a first-half disaster into a mere two-point deficit at halftime. And give credit for recognizing when Baker Mayfield was hobbled and responding immediately with a blitz. But why run third-down back C.J. Prosise in short-yardage situations when the bruising Carson is available?
This was a game the Seahawks were expected to win, and although it wasn’t pretty, Seattle got the job done. While the defense may no longer be the dominant force it once was, Wilson is playing at such a high level that it feels like the Seahawks always have a chance to win. The Seahawks are 3-0 on the road, 5-1 for just the third time in franchise history, and are announcing themselves as a team to beat in the NFC.