Grading the Game: Defensive dominance, Russell Wilson effectiveness spark Seahawks
In a performance that only further re-established that the Seahawks could indeed win another Super Bowl, Seattle dominated the Eagles from start to finish in a 24-14 victory at Lincoln Financial Field.
Seattle Times staff reporter
PHILADELPHIA — A matchup of the best defense in the NFL against one of the best offenses turned into a surprisingly one-sided contest Sunday as Seattle defeated the Eagles 24-14.
Or maybe it wasn’t so surprising.
“We expect to dominate every time we play,’’ Seattle safety Earl Thomas said after the Seahawks (9-4) won for the sixth time in their past seven games to stay a game behind Arizona (10-3) in the NFC West.
Seattle certainly dominated on this day, and the grades will reflect a game in which the Seahawks mostly needed only to get out of their own way to win comfortably.
Sure, Russell Wilson made a few mistakes — the early sack and the later intentional grounding that took Seattle out of field-goal range. But, for the most part, this was vintage Wilson as he time and again escaped the rush to make plays with his feet. He also dashed to the end zone on a 26-yard touchdown run. And he seemed to save his best throws for when they were needed most, such as the perfect toss to Doug Baldwin for a 23-yard touchdown in the third quarter. Wilson had a passer rating of 99.3, his fourth in a row at 98.2 or better after having had three in a row at 77.5 or lower.
For the first time this season, Marshawn Lynch lost a fumble. Otherwise, this was more of the same even though the Eagles seemed determined to stop the running game and make the Seahawks win the game in other ways. Lynch finished with 86 yards on 23 tough carries and also had five catches and his fourth touchdown reception of the season, which leads the team. Christine Michael added 32 yards in one of his better performances.
A quiet day receiving for this group, with Cooper Helfet out for a second consecutive game. Tony Moeaki (15 yards) and Luke Willson (1 yard) each had one catch.
Doug Baldwin said Seattle came in thinking it could make some plays downfield in the passing game, and the Seahawks took some shots. Baldwin had the best success with 97 yards on five catches and drew a 44-yard pass interference penalty. Rookies Paul Richardson (two catches, 27 yards) and Kevin Norwood (two catches for 22) also made as much impact as they have all season.
At times, this was a tough day up front, such as when Vinny Curry blew right by Justin Britt to sack Wilson in the second quarter. Certainly, Wilson’s feet saved the line from giving up more sacks than the two it allowed. But the line held together and ultimately helped the Seahawks grind out a tough victory.
Seattle’s defensive domination started up front, where everyone who played deserved plaudits. Seattle used just six players — the starting four and backups Jordan Hill and O’Brien Schofield. Hill had maybe his best day as a Seahawk with four tackles and a sack. But having perhaps the best day was Michael Bennett, whose penetration disrupted many more plays than his stats showed — four tackles, two for a loss, one sack.
It was one more game to marvel at the difference made by the return of Bobby Wagner, whose speed and lateral quickness paid off in a game-high seven solo tackles. He helped keep LeSean McCoy in check. K.J. Wright had one of the biggest plays with a forced fumble of McCoy to start the second half, though he was later beaten in coverage for the Eagles’ lone second-half touchdown.
Seattle played most of the game in a nickel defense, with Byron Maxwell moving inside and Tharold Simon playing the other outside corner. Maxwell had one of his best games, holding Eagles slot receiver Jordan Matthews to just two catches on five targets. Kam Chancellor also let the Eagles know early what kind of day it was going to be with a hard hit on the game’s second play to break up a pass intended for tight end Brent Celek. Simon capped things off with his first NFL interception.
This was clearly the shakiest area. Punter Jon Ryan mishandled a snap for the second consecutive week, though this time he couldn’t recover, leading to an early Eagles touchdown. And the return games also were an adventure, with Baldwin filling in at punt return for Bryan Walters, who was inactive. Seattle coaches, though, wanted Baldwin to be cautious, one reason he let a few drop, which cost the Seahawks some yards. The coverage units were mostly solid against a team regarded as having the best special teams in the league, other than the 46-yard return by Josh Huff that led to an Eagles’ score.
|Seahawks’ defense steps up|
|Seattle’s defense has allowed fewer total yards in each of its past three games. A comparison of averages during that stretch and the four losses earlier this season:|
|Opponent||Total yards||First downs||Pts|
|Sunday, at Eagles||139||9||14|
|Nov. 27, at 49ers||164||16||3|
|Nov. 23 vs. Cardinals||204||12||3|
|Avg. last 3 games||169||12.3||6.67|
|Avg. in 4 losses||337||22||28|
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or email@example.com.