Heading into Week 16 the Seattle Seahawks had outscored the opposition 108-17 over the past two weeks. It was a mark that went down as the 'Hawks best two-game stretch in franchise history, but no one surely thought the same record-setting pace would continue against the San Francisco 49ers.
The 49ers were sporting the second-best defense in the NFL, and through 14 games they had only surrendered 16.1 points per game. So it would have been arrogant to think Seattle would handily dismantle Vic Fangio's defense.
But by game's end on Sunday, the Seahawks had destroyed San Francisco in every area. Darell Bevell's offense made its presence known by racking up 35 points, Gus Bradley's defense forced two turnovers and Brian Schneider's special teams unit secured a 90-yard touchdown of their own.
A 42-13 thrashing wasn't expected, but the Seahawks will take it as they look to build on their current four-game winning streak.
Before we look ahead to their Week 17 opponent, the St. Louis Rams, let's take a look at the good, the bad and everything in between from Week 16.
On a day where not much went wrong on either side of the ball, there was one glaring hole that jumped out at me on tape. Bradley's defense never was able to get the pass rushing going from start to finish. They managed to pressure quarterback Colin Kaepernick a measly 12 times on 43 dropbacks.
According to the analysts at Pro Football Focus, only two of the 20 Seahawks defenders that took at least one snap on Sunday night managed to finish with a positive pass rushing grade. Those two defenders were middle linebacker Bobby Wagner and safety Jeron Johnson. They combined for two quarterback hits on nine pass rush attempts.
Wagner only rushed the quarterback five times the entire game, and Johnson rushed the quarterback four times from the defensive package called "bandit." Outside of these two players, defensive tackle Greg Scruggs was the other lone individual who finished with a quarterback hit.
The one player who managed to sack Kaepernick was outside linebacker K.J. Wright.
Which begs the question, where was the edge pressure from Chris Clemons and Bruce Irvin? They obviously decided to take the night off because they combined for a pitiful four quarterback hurries on 59 pass rush attempts.
Not a sack nor a hit from either player. I get that Joe Staley and Anthony Davis are very good players in their own right, but we are talking about two defensive ends who had garnered 93 pressures through 14 games. Impressive numbers to say the least.
As the Seahawks roll into Week 17 and beyond, it will be key that they find another pass-rusher to supplant the injured Jason Jones. Jones' presence will be missed in the playoffs if they don't find a way to replace his production.
Even though he is on injured reserve, he is still third on the team in sacks and total pressures.
Many would think that cornerback Richard Sherman would be the easy selection here, but I'm going to have to go with rookie quarterback Russell Wilson. I note Wilson because I clearly feel Week 16 was the best game of his young career. There simply wasn't a throw he couldn't make.
Not to mention the fact he extended the play time after time with the use of his legs. For the sixth time in seven games the rookie quarterback from Wisconsin finished the game with a quarterback rating above 100.
For the season No. 3 now has a quarterback rating of 98.1, which would currently tie Ben Roethlisberger's all-time rookie record. However, let's not forget that fellow rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III is on pace to top both players with his 104.1 quarterback rating.
Outside of a strong passer rating, Wilson also threw four touchdowns against the 49ers—something he hadn't ever done before in his young career. His 25 touchdowns for the season only puts him one behind Peyton Manning's single-season rookie record of 26.
Based on his current rate, Wilson will eclipse the mark and set the record. Yet, it's not all about records either, it's ultimately all about wins. This next comment may hurt the feelings of some, but without question there's no way the Seahawks win 10, possibly 11 games with Matt Flynn under center.
Wilson single-handedly brought this team back more than once to ensure victory. The Chicago game is a perfect example—can you honestly sit here and tell me Flynn would produce back-to-back scoring drives in the fourth quarter and overtime to clinch a W?
If you do believe that, please drop a line below and tell me why you believe that.
Stock Watch (Week-By-Week Evaluation)
Rising: Max Unger
Center Max Unger was selected to his first Pro Bowl on Wednesday, and based on his play, he has earned it. Unger had a perfect game in protection against the 49ers—he didn't allow a sack, hit or hurry. It signaled the eighth game this season where he didn't give up a single pressure.
Falling: Breno Giacomini
Despite his strong play in the run game, Breno Giacomini's pass protection skills weren't quite up to snuff. In 29 pass-blocking opportunities, he gave up three quarterback pressures—the most of any offensive lineman. The lone bright spot was the fact he played a penalty-free game for the second week in a row.
Rising: Richard Sherman
Even though Sherman was snubbed from the Pro Bowl again, he won his appeal on Thursday and played arguably his best game of the season against San Francisco. Sherm scored a touchdown on special teams, he picked off a pass in coverage and held Kaepernick to a quarterback rating of 31.8 when throwing into his coverage.
Falling: Red Bryant
"Big Red" Bryant had one hell of a game on special teams, but he suffered on the defensive line. Bryant was eaten alive by Davis on the right side in the run game and was stonewalled as a pass-rusher. For the third time in three weeks, he didn't record a sack, hit or hurry.