DETROIT — Is the Seattle Seahawks’ turnaround for real?
Sunday’s performance indicates that it is.
Seattle made its strongest statement yet that it remains a force to be reckoned with in the NFL, going on the road and defeating the red-hot Detroit Lions 28-14 Sunday at Ford Field.
“I like what’s going on, I like the way it’s going and how (the players) feel about it,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said.
“We really were able to play right within the framework of how we want to do it,” Carroll added. “We want to get the football and not give it up — we had no turnovers today — and then take advantage of that and run the heck out of the football, and we ran the ball 42 times today. I couldn’t be more fired up about a stat than that, it’s just commitment and attitude and what we’re trying to do.”
The Seahawks seemed to have righted the ship, winning three of their previous four games after starting the season 0-2. However, those victories came against suspect competition. Detroit also had won three of its previous four, meaning the Lions provided a test of whether Seattle’s success was a product of actual improvement or inferior competition.
Seattle, coming off its bye week and playing for the first time since the death of owner Paul Allen, responded with a display of offensive efficiency that left Detroit’s defense grasping at shadows. Spurred by excellent offensive-line play that opened up holes for rushers and gave quarterback Russell Wilson time to throw, the Seahawks ran 42 times for 176 yards, and Wilson finished with a perfect quarterback rating. That efficiency helped Seattle build a 28-7 lead early in the fourth quarter.
“I think our receivers did a tremendous job of getting open,” Wilson said of his efficiency.
“The great thing about our team right now is it doesn’t matter who’s making the plays, it doesn’t matter what’s going on,” Wilson added. “At the end of the day all that matters is each other, all that matters is us winning and doing whatever it takes to win. That really showed up the past several weeks.”
Seattle also decisively won the turnover battle, forcing Detroit into three turnovers and committing none. Those turnovers also came at opportune times, with two of them — including Justin Coleman’s interception at the 1-yard line that prevented a touchdown — coming in the fourth quarter after Detroit had cut it to a two-score game.
The Seahawks then clinched the victory when punter Michael Dickson, punting from his own end zone, improvised a fake. The play called for Dickson to run to the corner of the end zone and take a safety. However, Dickson spied a lane and was able to run for a first down, allowing Seattle to run out the clock.
Early on it looked like this was going to be a last-team-with-the-ball wins type of game. However, it was a play on special teams that tilted the game Seattle’s direction. The Seahawks had just scored early in the second quarter to tie the score 7-7. On the ensuing kickoff, Tedric Thompson forced a fumble from Ameer Abdullah, with Barkevious Mingo recovering to set up Seattle on a short field. The Seahawks were in the end zone three plays later to take the lead, and Seattle was in control the rest of the way.
Russell Wilson, Seattle. From a statistical standpoint the Seahawks’ quarterback couldn’t have been any better. He finished the game 14-for-17 for 248 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions, which equates to a perfect 158.3 passer rating. He also kept the ball twice on the read option, not only picking up 15 rushing yards, but forcing the Detroit defense to honor the keeper and freeing up space for the running backs.
Chris Carson, Seattle. Carson is proving to be a true No. 1 running back as he carried 25 times for 105 yards and a touchdown, regularly gaining yards after contact by moving the pile. This was Carson’s third 100-yard effort in his past four outings.
David Moore, Seattle. The second-year receiver has become one of the Seahawks’ biggest downfield threats, catching four passes for 97 yards and a touchdown. He has four TD receptions in the past three games.
Seattle’s run defense. The Seahawks held the Lions to 34 rushing yards on 13 carries. Detroit averaged 149.3 yards rushing per game the previous four contests. Detroit’s No. 1 back, Kerryon Johnson, was limited to 22 yards on eight carries and essentially turned into a pass catcher.
Matt Stafford, Detroit. The Lions’ quarterback tried to keep Detroit in it, going 27-for-40 for 310 yards and two touchdowns with one interception.
Marvin Jones, Detroit. Jones was by far Stafford’s most dangerous target, finishing with seven catches for 117 yards and scoring both Lions touchdowns.
Seattle got two important pieces back Sunday as Pro Bowl linebacker K.J. Wright played for the first time this season after recovering from knee surgery, and tight end Ed Dickson was activated off injured reserve after missing the first six games because of a groin injury. Both contributed, with Wright making five tackles and Dickson catching two balls for 54 yards and a TD.
Strong safety Bradley McDougald missed a handful of plays during the game because he was sick, but managed to play through the illness. Seattle suffered no significant injuries during the game.
Sunday’s game was the warm-up for Seattle’s murderer’s-row stretch of the schedule. It begins at home next Sunday when the Seahawks play host to the Los Angeles Chargers. That game is followed by a road game against the Los Angeles Rams, a Thursday night home game against the Green Bay Packers and a road game against the Carolina Panthers. Indeed, November will determine whether the Seahawks’ revival is for real.