While the Seahawks work on figuring out their secondary early in the season, it looks like their offense and run defense should be able to carry them.
Playing without senior vet Bradley McDougald, the shuffling secondary had issues stopping Mr. Guaranteed, Kirk Cousins, and Minnesota’s backs and receivers Friday in a 21-20 win by the Vikings. But the run defense was stiff and Russell Wilson and the offense put the Seahawks in the lead by halftime. And Michael Dickson flipped the field on almost every punt — showing what a huge weapon he will be.
Pete Carroll was pleased with the way his team came to play against one of the NFC’s favorites. “I thought we played with good juice tonight,” he said. “Intensity was really good. I thought we gained a lot of ground in areas that were important to us.”
Seattle’s top defense had trouble on third downs against Cousins, giving up drives of 14 and 13 plays in the first quarter-plus. But the Vikings led just 6-0 after missing a field goal (their rookie missed two 42-yarders) and failing on a two-point conversion after a 97-yard TD drive. On that drive, Cousins hit big gains of 10, 24, 16 and 27 yards — mostly to his backs. He threw for 120 yards in the first quarter, completing 10 of 15 against Seattle’s young secondary.
It flipped in the second quarter, though, as Wilson and company took over. Brandon Marshall and Keenan Reynolds keyed the air attack, the 34-year-old vet catching three balls for 34 yards and the former Navy QB catching a couple of passes for first downs.
In between, Chris Carson and Mike Davis pulled a tag-team act behind a rejuvenated offensive line that featured some great pulling blocks by Ethan Pocic — Mike Solari’s stamp on this offense. Carson scored from the 6 on a trap play behind Pocic, Justin Britt, D.J. Fluker and Germain Ifedi.
“It makes our jobs easy as running backs when there are a lot of lanes to run through,” Carson told Q13 FOX. “It was a great effort by the offensive line and the offense in general.”
On the next series, Wilson and the backs led the Hawks down into field-goal range, where Sebastian Janikowski hit a 35-yarder. The 40-year-old kicker also nailed a 55-yarder in the third quarter, answering the question of whether he still has a strong enough leg.
This preseason, per Gregg Bell, Wilson and the top unit have gained 481 yards and scored 26 points on 81 plays (about five quarters worth of play).
When the Hawks weren’t finishing drives, Dickson often was pinning the Vikings inside the 5-yard line. He hit punts of 57 and 56 yards to the 3-yard line — each feat drawing excited kudos from teammates. He also made a TD-saving tackle after a 60-yard punt.
“Michael Dickson couldn’t have been more effective with his punts in his first time out when he was really THE guy,” Carroll said. “Really fired up about that.”
The “first” defense, which featured a bunch of guys rotating through the secondary, gave up 182 passing yards in the first half. But the run D, anchored by a deep line, was stout: The Vikings ran for just 27 yards on 13 carries (of course, starting RB Dalvin Cook played just one series as he comes back from an ACL injury).
“They’re dedicated to running it, and our guys held up really well,” Carroll said.
The Hawks have had some very good D-lines since Wright arrived in 2011, but he told Q13 FOX this is the best unit he has played behind. High praise for Jarran Reed, Tim Johnson, Nazair Jones and company.
Wright and crew came out hitting in this game, too. At the end of the half, Barky Mingo made a big hit on a kick return and then Wright blasted Stefon Diggs on a play over the middle — the kind of hit Kam Chancellor would have loved. Even little Justin Coleman was bringing the heat.
Wright said they wanted to win the game, especially in Minnesota, and wanted to send a message for the season — these teams play in Week 14.
“It was laying heavy out there tonight, man,” he told Q13 FOX. “We definitely wanted to come out and set the tone, let these guys know how it’s going to be like in the regular season. So we made good, CLEAN, legal hits.” The emphasis meant as an obvious dig at the NFL’s new helmet rule.
David Moore continued a strong preseason, scoring on a 36-yard pass from rookie Alex McGough. He also returned a punt 75 yards to the end zone, but it was nullified by a hold. Moore already had locked up a roster spot, but he just reminded everyone Friday. “We’ve been thinking when David gets the ball in his hands, he could do something special,” Carroll said. “It just showed us again the kind of dynamic player he is.”
McGough threw a pick, but he also showed good resilience in leading the Hawks to the lead after the Vikings had tied it at 13.
Akeem King had a rough series at the end of the half, giving up a 27-yard pass to former first-rounder Laquon Treadwell. King had a couple other iffy plays on that drive as well.
Erik Walden, 33, showed he still has some rush moves left; he notched two sacks in his first game since signing last week. But it remains to be seen whether he has enough time to prove he should make the club. Its probably between him and rookie Jacob Martin, who played a ton and tallied a sack of his own while showing his motor.
Tedric Thompson suffered a stinger but doesn’t think it’s anything to worry about. Carroll called it a rib injury.