Heading into Week 15, Pete Carroll's Seattle Seahawks are winners of two in a row and sport an 8-5 record. One more win will mark the first time in his tenure where Carroll has finished above .500 as head coach of the Seahawks.
With three weeks remaining in the season, Seattle's just now starting to hit its stride by getting hot at the right time. Everyone saw what that did for the New York Giants last year, so it's safe to assume the 'Hawks are hitting their stride at the right time.
Right now, the Seahawks are the No. 5 seed in the NFC, but with a little bit of luck, they still have the opportunity to finish as high as No. 1. Just another reason to love the NFL—the season isn't over until the final whistle.
Let's take a look at the good, the bad and everything in between from Week 14.
After a 58-0 performance, it's safe to say a thumbs-up could be given to just about everyone on the field. However, if I have to pick one unit or one guy, it's going to be the defensive backfield. As expected, Richard Sherman was his usual self as he nonchalantly went about his business by intercepting two passes and forcing a fumble.
Without question, that is a huge game in itself, yet I want to talk about a few unsung heroes that helped mask the suspension of Brandon Browner. Walter Thurmond, Jeremy Lane and Byron Maxwell all had big games in Browner's absence.
Thurmond saw the most snaps out of any Seahawks defensive back against the Cardinals—he logged 61 of Seattle's 62 defensive snaps. Of the three fill-ins, Maxwell came in second with 26 snaps, and Lane had 23 by game's end. It was the first extended action of the season for all three players, and to the surprise of everyone except Doug Baldwin, they all exceeded expectations.
Thurmond: Probably the most well rounded. Can play outside and go inside to guard the slot. High football IQ, with natural instincts.— Dbfresh (@DougBaldwinJr) December 4, 2012
Lane: Smaller, but very quick. Aggressive with a chip on his shoulder. Good feet. And a knack for being around the football.— Dbfresh (@DougBaldwinJr) December 4, 2012
Maxwell: Very fast, smart football player with good instincts. Patient at the LOS with an ability to press bigger and smaller WR’s.— Dbfresh (@DougBaldwinJr) December 4, 2012
I think Baldwin should give more defensive scouting reports on Twitter—he seems to have some pretty good insight considering he squares off against them daily in practice.
Let's examine the defensive secondaries numbers by tapping into Pro Football Focus' database. At the end of Seattle's Week 15 game, PFF had given the 'Hawks a pass coverage grade of plus-15.7—the highest number they have received all season long.
Outside of Sherman, Thurmond collected the second-highest grade among the defensive backs, and rightfully so. He was targeted nine times by opposing quarterbacks John Skelton and Ryan Lindley, yet he only allowed five completions for a stingy 20 yards. Not to mention the fact his quarterback rating against was 60.9.
Maxwell and Lane weren't able to muster up as high of grades as Thurmond, yet their coverage numbers were equally impressive. Between the two of them, they were targeted seven times, only to allow two completions and eight yards after the catch.
Staggering the suspensions of Sherman and Browner was definitely the right thing to do. The suspensions could also be looked at as a blessing in disguise considering Seattle now has the opportunities to further evaluate a few of its younger players in the secondary.
When a team shuts out the opponent and puts up 58 points, it's hard to find many deficiencies, yet the Seahawks always seem to struggle in one key area of the game regardless of the score: penalties. Coach Carroll's club was penalized 10 times total—six came on the offensive side of the ball, and four came on the defensive side of the ball.
So, you may be wondering who the biggest culprits were. No. 3 tight end Evan Moore in surprising news was actually the only offensive player to be flagged twice. He's not the first player to ever get flagged twice, but to do so on only 17 snaps is unacceptable.
His first penalty was a blatant push off for offensive pass interference, and his second was of the lesser variety; it was a false start with 4:54 left to go in the third quarter. Many had hoped Moore could turn into a "joker" tight end as the season went on, but so far, it seems like a long shot if he turns into anything.
On defense, Brandon Mebane was able to rack up two penalties as well, just like Moore. His first penalty came in the first quarter, as he was flagged for unnecessary roughness and his second penalty was a neutral zone infraction that came at the beginning of the second quarter.
These two offenses marked the sixth time Mebane had been flagged this season for an offense. For the season, Seattle is averaging 7.1 penalties a game—the sixth-worst mark in the NFL. Only the 49ers, Ravens, Rams, Cowboys and Redskins are having a worse year in that department.
Regardless of the score, good play is always accompanied by some type of bad play.
Stock Watch (Week-By-Week Evaluation)
Rising: Anthony McCoy
What a breakout game for the third-year tight end from USC. Anthony McCoy had a career-high 105 yards receiving on three catches. He wasn't able to find the end zone, yet he forced two missed tackles, the only two he has forced all season.
Falling: Evan Moore
I mentioned of Moore's penalty problems earlier, but that wasn't the only thing that plagued him this past Sunday. His route running and run blocking skills also took a hit in limited action. Moore has now played a miniscule 100 snaps on the season.
Rising: Bobby Wagner
As the season has pressed on, inside linebacker Bobby Wagner has quietly started to make his case for Defensive Rookie of the Year. He collected two more interceptions against Arizona and put together his best game of his young career.
Falling: Jason Jones
A usual shoe-in for two or three pressures a game, defensive end Jason Jones was shutout on Sunday. It marked only the second game in 2012 where he didn't record at least one pressure. For the season, he currently has three sacks, three hits and 10 hurries.
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