Seahawks vs. Bills: Seattle's Use of the Zone-Read Option Opened the Flood Gates
Another week, another blowout win for the Seattle Seahawks. For the second week in a row, Pete Carroll's club hung 50 points on the opposition. Last week against the Arizona Cardinals, they set a franchise record by scoring 58 points. This week against the Buffalo Bills, they set another franchise record by scoring the most points in the team's history over a two-game span:
NFL (@NFLONFOX) December 17, 2012
The offensive explosion against Arizona was started by running back Marshawn Lynch. This week's offensive explosion was fueled by rookie quarterback Russell Wilson. Wilson has displayed his legs in past contests but never to the extent he showed today.
By the end of the first quarter, No. 3 had rushed for 59 yards and two touchdowns. To put that in perspective, he had only one game prior where he rushed for more than 70 yards. The reason for the uptick in performance on the ground was due to offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell's utilization of the zone-read option.
Seattle used the zone-read option in abundance in its comeback win against the Bears two weeks ago, but they used it sparingly against Arizona in Week 14. Buffalo hadn't come face-to-face with an elusive running quarterback since they met Joe Webb in the preseason. But Chan Gailey had seen one before.
He has a long-storied resume that includes many stops in college football where the zone-read option is heavily used. Regardless, his message to clamp down on the Seahawks' run game never sunk in, or the execution simply failed. Coming into this week's game, stopping the run had to be a point of emphasis.
In addition to Wilson's nine-carry, 92-yard and three touchdown performance, running back Marshawn Lynch had an even better game against his former club. For the second week in a row, Lynch's usage was limited due to the blowout circumstances, but that didn't stop him from topping the century mark for the eighth time this season.
His 113-yard performance on 10 carries was the second game in a row where No. 24 averaged over 11 yards a carry. Through 13 games, he has also set a career high for rushing yards in a season. His previous high was 1,204 yards, which he set last year in his first full season as a member of the 'Hawks.
Here's another huge rushing stat for you: The Seahawks have piled up 554 yards on the ground over the course of their last two games. There is plenty of praise to go around. Coach Carroll deserves a pat on the back, along with Bevell and offensive line coach Tom Cable. The zone-blocking scheme was effective and destructive in a big way today:
The Russell Wilson Rookie of the Year train is running at full speed.— Chris Burke (@ChrisBurke_SI) December 16, 2012
I've said it once and I will say it again: Russell Wilson deserves serious discussion in the Rookie of the Year debate. He has been the most valuable player on Seattle's offense—not to mention the fact his stats and on-field play speaks for themselves.
According to Pro Football Reference, Wilson has led the Seahawks to three fourth-quarter comebacks and has led three game-winning drives, in Week's 3, 6 and 13. Impressive to say the least and very comparable to Andrew Luck's fourth-quarter comeback numbers.
Heading into Week 16, Seattle sits at 9-5 with two games left to play. Sunday Night Football against the 49ers at Century Link Field may prove to be the Seahawks' biggest game of the season.
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