“We’re trying to go somewhere. It takes everything we’ve got.” — Russell Wilson
Despite making their share of errors in a game full of mistakes by both teams and the refs, the still-developing Seahawks showed their resilience yet again as they continued their super start.
The Seahawks took the ball away four times — five if you count a blocked punt — as they won a mistake-filled game in Cleveland, 32-28, to improve to 5-1 for the third time in franchise history.
The last time they were 5-1, they won the Super Bowl. The Hawks also improved to 3-0 on the road, their best such start since 1980.
The takeaways saved the Seahawks from some early bad special teams play and big games by Cleveland’s Nick Chubb and Odell Beckham Jr. — and the Hawks won despite apparently losing Will Dissly for the season (again) and getting almost no pass rush on Baker Mayfield.
Russell Wilson and Mayfield continued their diametrically opposite play. While the inaccurate Mayfield (22 of 37) was throwing three interceptions, Wilson (23 of 33) threw two TD passes to Jaron Brown and set the franchise record for consecutive passes without an interception (207 and counting). Wilson now has 14 TD passes and no interceptions this year — the best six-game start in NFL history (besting his football hero/mentor Drew Brees.)
“Russell was exquisite again,” Pete Carroll said. “He found his ways to make his plays. … He’s just making stuff happen. It’s got to be hard for the other side trying to figure out you’re going to stop the guy.”
The MVP talk is heating up, but Wilson told Q13: “We’ve got too long to go. I’m just focused on the next game. It’s about winning. It’s about us. It’s about finding a way to do it the next game. That’s all that matters.”
Carroll said George Fant and Jamarco Jones did a “fantastic” job playing for injured Duane Brown and D.J. Fluker. The Hawks ran for 170 yards and gave Wilson a strong pocket more than many might have expected — two of the three sacks were coverage deals where Wilson just held the ball too long.
Brian Schottenheimer smartly let Wilson move out of the way of Cleveland’s dangerous pass rush. Star rusher Myles Garrett still had two sacks, but Wilson moved around a lot as the Hawks mixed in rollouts and pitch fakes.
While Chubb was gashing Seattle for 122 yards on 20 runs, Carson put up a career-high 124 yards (on 24 carries) — his third straight 100-yard game after a rough start to the season. He put the Seahawks up for good with a TD run with 3:30 left.
“They have a lot of talented players on their team,” Wilson told Q13. “We do, too. It was an amazing matchup.”
The Seahawks got off to a bad start, giving up a 74-yard return on the opening kick and letting the Browns score touchdowns on their first three possessions (the first time that had happened to Seattle since 2008). With Jason Myers missing his first PAT try, the Hawks trailed 20-6 early in the second quarter thanks to special teams.
But they outscored the Browns 26-8 the rest of the way as the defense forced the four takeaways, blocked a punt and stopped the Browns at the goal line late in the third quarter.
That goal line stand, a bit of a comedy of errors between the refs (who had a rough day) and Browns coach Freddie Kitchens, didn’t really matter since Seattle’s offense could not get off the 1-yard line and special teams failed again as Michael Dickson’s punt went off the side of his foot for just 23 yards. Chubb ran for 21 yards and then scored, giving the Browns a 28-25 lead after a two-point conversion.
Carroll agreed with fans who thought he should have taken a safety when backed up at the 1. He said he was signaling to Dickson, but the punter did not see him. That would have made the score 25-22 and given Dickson room to boom the ball from the 20.
But Wilson marched the Hawks 64 yards to the go-ahead score — helped by a questionable horse-collar penalty and another defensive penalty.
Carson and Tyler Lockett took over. Carson broke three tackles to gain 14 to the 26. And then Lockett caught a 16-yard pass on third-and-5. He scored on the next play, but the official overturned it — one of many questionable calls against both sides by the refs, who earlier had drawn the wrath of Browns fans for a few wrong or controversial decisions (a wrong “block in the back” call on Jarvis Landry was particularly egregious).
After Lockett lost his TD, Carson finished it off to put the Hawks up 32-28 at 3:30. Mayfield had a chance to put Cleveland back up, but he threw behind his running back and K.J. Wright picked it off. The Hawks also got interceptions from Tre Flowers (the first of his career) and Tedric Thompson (in the end zone, off a tip by Shaquill Griffin).
“We always talk about they come in bunches, and today that was the day,” said Carroll, who added the defense forced three straight takeaways on Turnover Thursday practice.
“We’ve been waiting for a game like that,” Bobby Wagner said, also mentioning the old “they come in bunches” adage.
The big negatives for the Seahawks were the loss of Dissly to an Achilles injury and the complete lack of a pass rush.
Dissly stumbled and hurt his left Achilles, untouched, on a pass to the end zone from Wilson in the first quarter. Carroll called the injury “devastating” and said he expects tests to confirm the tight end will miss the rest of the season (he was lost for the year after four games last season).
The other negative was the lack of pass rush, especially in the first half. One of the few times the Hawks got there in the second half, Jadeveon Clowney led with his helmet and got called for roughing the passer.
Carroll said, “We’re still searching to get it right. I’m not impatient about that. We’re still working at it. We’ll figure it out. We ain’t even halfway through this thing yet. We have a longs ways to go.”
It might help that Jarran Reed will return from his suspension next week — in time for the Hawks to face Earl Thomas and Baltimore.
“Oh yeah!” an excited Wright laughed on Q13. “Jarran Reed: That’s going to be fantastic. He’s my guy. To have him up front, he’s just the leader of the D-Line. Pass-rush specialist. He takes up double-teams for us. It’s going to be really fun. I can’t wait for him to get back.”
Other than a 27-10 blowout of Arizona, the Hawks have been winning by narrow margins: four wins by no more than three points.
Wilson and Wagner mentioned they and Wright have been in games like this many times together, and they pass on that wisdom to younger players. Pete Carroll said the team has great chemistry, which helps rally from bad situations like they have faced early this season. They have trailed in four of their five wins.
“Every game has been hard,” Carroll said. “These are character builders, man. They’re going to make us better. The tougher, the better. We need all of these challenges. .. We’re learning from all of them.”