Here’s how the Seattle Seahawks grade out in their 48-45 victory over the Detroit Lions on Sunday at Ford Field:
Russell who? Geno Smith has been above and beyond what anyone could have expected as Russell Wilson’s successor as Seattle’s quarterback, and Sunday was his best effort to date as Seattle racked up huge season bests in points and yards (555). Not only did Smith continue to complete almost all of his passes, he added well-timed runs (five for 51 yards and a TD), and his conversions of third downs (9-for-12) was the key factor that allowed Seattle to outlast the Lions’ late push. In addition, Rashaad Penny (17 carries for 151 yards and two TDs) finally looked like the running back from the second half of last season, and he powered for the first down the secured the victory at the end.
It was all going so well for Seattle’s defense as it was forcing three-and-outs, and Tariq Woolen’s interception for a touchdown on the first play of the second half seemed like it was going to end this one as a contest. But then everything that’s plagued the Seahawks’ defense this season — poor tackling, open receivers, penalties — came flooding back, and the inability to get a stop allowed the Lions to improbably get back into it. And remember, this was a game in which Detroit was without its top running back and top receiver because of injury.
This game could have it been put away early if not for Seattle’s special teams gaffes. Tyler Lockett’s fumble on a first-quarter punt return led directly to a Detroit touchdown. Getting beat on a first-quarter fake punt directly led to a Lions field goal. While kicker Jason Myers drilled a 56-yard field goal in the second quarter, he also badly shanked a 39-yarder in the third. To top it off, there was near disaster on Detroit’s late onside-kick attempt. Perhaps the best thing the Seahawks did on special teams was watch Detroit kicker Dominik Eberle spray extra points wide.
There was a lot to like from Seattle’s offensive game plan and play calling, from the constant use of play action and rollouts that Detroit never solved, to the draw play against the blitz on third-and-long in the third quarter that resulted in Penny’s 36-yard touchdown run. There was a pointless challenge on the fake punt that felt more like an emotional reaction to giving up the first down than actual belief that the play would be overturned. And you have to think we’ve reached the point where the coaching staff bears some of the responsibility for the defense’s tackling issues.
No, Detroit wasn’t the most formidable opponent. And yes, the Lions were missing all kinds of key players because of injury, including their kicker. But any win on the road in the NFL is a valuable one. And the fact that Geno Smith is doing Russell Wilson things better than Russell Wilson, combined with no team separating itself in the NFC West yet, suggests maybe this season isn’t a total throwaway after all.
– Nick Patterson, Herald writer