You know the Seahawks are back to normal when they are No. 1 again — not just in defense but in penalties.
It’s fairly obvious the two go hand in hand on Pete Carroll’s club.
When the defense is playing like it has the past two weeks, the Hawks can pretty easily overcome high penalty totals. Just ask all of the Hawks who were on the team in 2013, when the Hawks walked off with their first Super Bowl title despite leading the league in flags.
After drawing a season-worst 14 penalties for 105 yards Thursday in a 19-3 domination of the San Francisco 49ers, the Hawks once again lead the NFL in penalties. They had been as low as fourth over the last few weeks, but they have assumed their accustomed place.
A week ago, the Seahawks were coming off a tough loss in Kansas City, sitting at a precarious 6-4, with a muddled team identity and facing the toughest finishing slate in the NFL. Needless to say, there were plenty of doubters.
It’s funny what five days can do to change a team’s image.
Thanks to an attitude adjustment on defense and the league’s top-ranked running attack, the Seahawks are suddenly looking pretty good for the playoffs.
A second straight 19-3 domination of a contending NFC West foe proved the Hawks are back to their 2013 form and ready to make a charge into the postseason.
Is this finally the year the
Seahawks win at San Francisco?
They haven’t done it since 2008, going 0-4 in Pete
Carroll’s trips to his hometown. But a lot of things seem to be going their way for their first game at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara.
1 — This has been a home-dominated series between Carroll’s Hawks and Jim Harbaugh’s 49ers, but the Hawks have gotten closer and closer to winning in the Bay Area. They lost by 19 in 2010 and 16 in 2011, and with Russell Wilson they have lost by seven and two. Extrapolate that improvement out and the Hawks seem set for a three-point win this time.
2 — The Seahawks are 11-1 in prime time under Carroll — a major reason they were shorted on night games this season despite winning the Super Bowl. Granted, the loss was in San Francisco on a Thursday night in 2012, but the Hawks have won seven straight night games, averaging 31 points.
Russell Wilson clearly had one of his best performances of the season Sunday against Arizona, playing a very efficient game in the face of adversity.
According to ESPN, only 13 passers in NFL history had better ratings than Wilson’s 121.6 when being sacked seven times or more. Wilson was pretty calm in the face of the blitzing Arizona defense, hitting 11 of 13 passes for 153 yards in pressure situations.
But he still missed several opportunities and shared plenty of blame for the seven sacks.
Field Gulls put together screen shots and GIFs of each Seattle play that ended in a sack. After seeing those and rewatching the game, the fact is Wilson probably could have avoided at least four of the sacks if he had made quicker decisions and trusted his receivers a bit more.
The Seahawks recaptured their mojo last week, and Sunday against Arizona they finally looked like the Super Bowl champions they are and aspire to be again.
For the first time since perhaps the season-opening 36-16 win over Green Bay, the defense brought it like it was 2013.
With Bobby Wagner back and Kam Chancellor and Byron Maxwell healthier, the Hawks put together a performance that reminded everyone of the dominant unit that led the league last year. They held Arizona to 204 yards, 3 of 12 third downs, 3.2 yards per rush and 4.2 yards per play. Drew Stanton completed just 53.8 percent and posted a 54.8 rating.
Back from a five-game layoff caused by a toe injury, Wagner looked like he never left, playing all but one play on defense. He and Chancellor — who apparently is healthier than he has been in weeks — led the team with eight tackles. And Maxwell picked off a pass and played some great coverage — a ticky-tack PI call notwithstanding.
Cliff Avril fed off the energy of the 12th Man, getting great jumps off the snap all game, pressuring Stanton and recording two sacks. And the rest of the defense fed off those guys.
Appropriately, it all added up to Seattle reclaiming the No. 1 defensive ranking as they prepare to face San Francisco’s No. 2 defense.
Days after the NFL admitted blowing a key pass interference call that might have helped the Seahawks beat Kansas City, the Hawks practically had to beg for flags to be thrown against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.
Pete Carroll was not pleased, chewing out the refs more than once in a game in which his team was flagged seven times for 74 yards — at home — while the visitors were set back just three times for 25 yards.
“I’ve had it about up to here with this penalty situation and the way it’s gone,” Carroll told 710 ESPN on Monday morning. “They won’t call penalties on the other guys. They just won’t do it.”
“There is quite a gap between what they’re calling numbers-wise on one team than the other,” Carroll said Monday afternoon. “I think it’s interesting — fascinating. When we won the national championship the first year (at USC), the next year our opponents were penalized the least — for the next four years. That’s all I’m going to say about that.”