Here’s how the Seattle Seahawks grade out in their 37-27 victory over the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday at CenturyLink Field:
Seattle’s offense came out sluggish, as it was out of sorts in its first two drives. But after that the Seahawks looked every bit the NFL’s top-ranked offense. Quarterback Russell Wilson shrugged off last week’s three-interception game by throwing four touchdown passes with no interceptions. One week after Tyler Lockett caught 15 passes for 200 yards and three touchdowns, DK Metcalf nearly matched him with 12 catches for 161 yards and two TDs, further illustrating that Seattle has two game breakers at wide receiver. And Seattle scored 37 points despite being down to its fourth-string running back.
This was Seattle’s best defensive performance of the year. The Seahawks limited the 49ers to 112 yards offense through three-plus quarters as Seattle built a 30-7 fourth-quarter lead. The much-maligned pass rush received a shot in the arm by effective blitzing, which resulted in three well-timed sacks for a team that came into the game with just nine sacks in six contests. But while Seattle’s defense had its best game this season, and while San Francisco’s last three touchdowns each came when the Seahawks were leading by at least two scores in the fourth quarter, it sure would be nice to see the defense be able to close out a game.
No, Seattle’s special teams weren’t perfect Sunday — Jason Myers missed an extra point, his first missed kick of the season; Michael Dickson had an uncharacteristic poor punt that gave San Francisco the ball at midfield in the first quarter. But once again the Seahawks’ special teams made a difference at the most critical junctures of the game. Dickson’s 65-yard punt to the 3-yard line prevented the 49ers from having a shot at points late in the first half. Cody Barton and Nick Bellore combined to create a turnover on kickoff coverage in the third quarter. And the hands team made sure there was no drama with two late onside-kick attempts.
This was a well-coached game by Seattle. Offensively, the Seahawks adjusted to having running backs Chris Carson and Carlos Hyde out injured, letting Wilson throw the ball out of the gate and getting receiver David Moore integrated into the run game. Defensively the Seahawks turned Bobby Wagner into a weapon on the blitz, and the timing of unleashing Wagner on third down was impeccable as it forced three punts. Seattle also has to be credited for creating a scheme that limited 49ers star tight end George Kittle to two catches. But the Seahawks were an overturned two-point conversion away from being in a one-score game in a game it led 30-7 in the fourth quarter, and the coaches have to do something to prevent teams from getting back into games.
It was a good day overall for Seattle. Not only did the Seahawks get a victory over an NFC West rival, thereby moving two-and-a-half games ahead of the team that edged them out for the division title last year, they received a gift when the Los Angeles Rams were upset by the Miami Dolphins, bumping the Rams two games back. With the Arizona Cardinals on a bye, Seattle is now a full game in front of the divisional pack. Questions remain about the Seahawks’ ability to close out games, but it’s progress that this one never got within one score.
– Nick Patterson, Herald writer