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Seattle Seahawks: OL Couldn't Handle the Pressure as Arizona Drops Seattle 20-16

GLENDALE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 09:  Defensive tackle Darnell Dockett #90 and linebacker Paris Lenon #51 of the Arizona Cardinals sack quarterback Russell Wilson #3 of the Seattle Seahawks during the season opener at the University of Phoenix Stadium on September 9, 2012 in Glendale, Arizona. The Carindals defeated the Seahawks 20-16. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Tyson LanglandNFC West Lead WriterSeptember 10, 2012

Russell Wilson's preseason performances are long forgotten now that the regular season has started. Like so many others, I thought Wilson was going to walk into the University of Phoenix Stadium and completely dominate Arizona like he did Kansas City.

Knowing how a Ray Horton defense operates, I should have known better. Seattle's offense consistently struggled to move the ball and pick up first downs. Arizona was facing a rookie quarterback for the third time in as many years. Today's victory helped them coast to a 3-0 record against rookie signal-callers.

Horton's defense had Wilson and the starting offense line confused all day long. Russell Okung was an absolute mess at left tackle. Sam Acho was beating him like a drum off the edge. By the fourth quarter, Okung was so jumpy and worried about Acho that he had false-started three times before leaving the game with an injury. 

Pressure up the middle from the Cardinals defense proved to be too much for the interior of the Seahawks offensive line. Fire-zone blitzes from Arizona's linebackers turned up the heat on Paul McQuistan, Max Unger and J.R. Sweezy.

In all reality, Seattle should have been expecting that kind of pressure. Sweezy was making his first career start at right guard, and McQuistan would be on the bench if left guard James Carpenter were healthy. Nonetheless, that's no excuse as the Seahawks offense needs to flat-out do a better job at protecting their rookie quarterback.

The result of added pressure on the quarterback made for a long day outside of the pocket. A clean pocket was somewhat of a rarity as Wilson scrambled on eight different occasions because of pressure. One of the carries was a designed quarterback run play, yet one thing that doesn't show up in the box score are all the plays he made throwing on the run. 

One-hundred thirty-nine yards through the air and a third-down conversion percentage of 31 percent is awfully uninspiring even against a tough Cardinals defense. 

Seattle's biggest asset, the run game, was equally as uninspiring as the passing attack. The Seahawks only averaged 3.5 yards per rush on 33 attempts. In two meetings last season, Marshawn Lynch piled up 159 yards on on 38 attempts, good enough for over four yards a carry. Today proved to be a lot of the same, yet Lynch's performance wasn't enough.

Defensively, Seattle proved to be just as good as the opposition. They only gave up 253 yards of total offense, one yard less than the Cardinals. The biggest difference was the Seahawks fourth-quarter defense. 

In the third quarter, Cardinals quarterback John Skelton posted a quarterback rating of 0.00. Their offensive display in the third netted them a whopping 14 yards of total offense. The poor showing carried over into the fourth quarter as the first drive netted -3 yards. 

However, things went south for the Hawks defense on the following drive. Skelton left the game with a high ankle sprain, and Kevin Kolb kick started Arizona's offense to everyone's surprise. Kolb finished an 11-play touchdown drive that spanned 80 yards and 4:21.

From that point on, the momentum shifted, and Bevell's offense faltered as they ran seven plays from inside the 20-yard line on their final drive. Braylon Edwards had a legitimate shot at coming up with a touchdown grab on fourth down, but it squirted through his hands as cornerback William Gay was draped all over him. 

Next week, Seattle heads back home to take on the Dallas Cowboys. The 12th man will need to play a huge role, considering Dallas is coming off a big win over the defending Super Bowl champs. Rob Ryan's defense harassed Eli Manning on Wednesday night, so you know they will be looking to do the same against the rookie out of Wisconsin.

 

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