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Grading the Game: Seahawks fail on offense, thrive on defense vs. Cardinals

Grading the Game: Seahawks fail on offense, thrive on defense vs. Cardinals

October 26, 2016



Grading the Game: Seahawks fail on offense, thrive on defense vs. Cardinals

When it was mercifully over, neither the Seahawks’ minds nor their bodies seemed to know how to react.

Members of a defense that was on the field for a stunning 90 plays — the third-most in team history — were left emotionally and physically spent.

“It was lot of plays and right now Sherm (Richard Sherman) and Bobby (Wagner) and K.J. (Wright) and some guys are really gassed,’’ said coach Pete Carroll, noting that they were all being given fluids after the game.

“Getting off the field, they can’t even walk because they’re so drained,’’ Carroll said.

Carroll, meanwhile, wasn’t sure how to process what had just happened.

“I don’t even know what a tie means,’’ Carroll said, adding he wasn’t sure he’d ever been involved in one. “I don’t even know where that fits in the course of things.’’

Seattle, at least, is still upright in the NFC West standings at 4-1-1, with Arizona losing a chance to close more ground now at 3-1-1.

OFFENSE
The Seahawks were simply a disaster on offense through regulation, punting the first nine times they had the ball and with just 130 yards and five first downs.

Seattle’s offense never moved past its own 46 on those nine drives, nor gained more than 15 yards.

Six of Seattle’s 11 drives in regulation went three and out.

What remains the biggest factor is the immobility of Russell Wilson, who took off on a zone read on the first series of the game and was tackled for a 2-yard loss — and never ran again.

Without that threat Arizona just teed off all night. Wilson was only hit five times and sacked once because he made sure to get rid of the ball quickly, bailing on plays faster than ever. Wilson also seemed as uncomfortable as ever in the pocket and was simply off target with throws a few times.

But Wilson was far from alone in struggling.

The line had issues throughout, charged with five holding calls and unable to mount the push for a running game or keep Wilson protected long enough to let pass plays develop.

Seattle finished regulation with just 29 yards and no carry of longer than six.

It was the fewest rushing yards for Seattle since gaining just 20 against the Chiefs on Nov. 28, 2010.

But the receivers also had their problems with at least three drops as well as an inability at times to get open.

The Seattle offense finally got going in the overtime when Wilson was 7-of-8 passing for 118 yards with Jimmy Graham making three catches for 35 yards and Jermaine Kearse getting the longest gain of the night on a 31-yard reception that put the Seahawks in position for the ill-fated final field goal.

But by that point, the Arizona defense seemed about as gassed as Seattle’s, and also appeared to have a notable letdown after the offense’s failure to put the game away.

Grade: D-minus.

DEFENSE
The defense couldn’t have done more under what were extreme conditions all night.

Consider that Arizona got just six points out of six drives that reached the Seattle 28-yard-line or deeper, and none on two drives that got inside the 20.

Bobby Wagner (13 tackles), Earl Thomas (two passes defended) and Cliff Avril (2.5 sacks and 4.5 in the last two games) were specific heroes while Kelcie McCray again filled in ably for Kam Chancellor at strong safety making six tackles, including a touchdown-saver — and at least defeat-denier — in overtime. If there were any major communication issues they weren’t noticeable.

Frank Clark also had a nice game with 1.5 sacks, one coming to end the first half, a sack of Carson Palmer that forced a fumble. Arizona recovered, but the melee allowed time to run out — the play had snapped with 17 seconds — as Arizona did not have any timeouts remaining.

Grade: A.

SPECIAL TEAMS
If not for the Stephen Hauschka 28-yard miss that denied Seattle a chance to win, then this would be an A grade.

But that miss hugely marred a big night for the special teams.

Tanner McEvoy’s blocked punt set up Seattle’s only points in regulation — which saved the team from a loss right there.

Wagner had the amazing leap over the line to block a field goal in the first half.

And Neiko Thorpe and DeAndre Elliott had nice games in coverage.

Punter Jon Ryan also kept the Cardinals at bay all night with a 46.0-yard average on nine punts with a net of 42.3.

However, Arizona’s coverage units were also solid and the Seahawks struggled with field position much of the night.

Of Seattle’s first nine drives, only one started outside the Seahawks 31.

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