The Seattle Seahawks dropped a game for the first time this season, losing on the road 34-28 to the Indianapolis Colts. This was an incredibly entertaining back-and-forth game, even if the result wasn't what the Seahawks and their fans had in mind.
The Seahawks finally overcame their tendency to start slow as they jumped out to an early lead. Unfortunately, Seattle wilted down the stretch on both sides of the ball, and seemed to just run out of steam in the fourth quarter.
So just who was responsible for the quick start, and who was to blame for giving up the lead late? Let's find out with this week's report card.
- A's are reserved for individual players who dominated the opposition.
- B's are for players who played well but didn't dominate.
- C grades are given to players who struggled for most of the game.
- D's are for players who truly struggled and were occasionally dominated by the opposition.
- F grades are rare and reserved only for players who were completely dominated by the other team on almost every play.
- + and - modifiers to bridge the gaps inside those definitions.
All stats are taken from NFL.com.
Russell Wilson: B+
Wilson finished just 15 of 31 for 210 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. His 78.7 passer rating is not what everyone is used to seeing out of Seattle's franchise quarterback.
It is tough to grade Wilson too poorly though. The offensive line and receivers certainly didn't give Wilson much help. Wilson also added 13 carries for 102 yards on the ground, which is a franchise record.
Wilson wasn't perfect though. He was off-target on a few throws, and made at least two bad reads on read-option plays. Yet despite those mistakes, Wilson still played well enough for the Seahawks to win almost any game they play in.
Marshawn Lynch: A-
Lynch's final stat line of 17 carries for 102 yards is impressive, but it's not as good as it should have been. Lynch was dominant in the first half, but then received just five carries in the second half.
While that was partly due to the running game becoming ineffective after the break, the Seahawks need to do a better job of sticking with the run.
Robert Turbin: B
Turbin's contribution each week is felt mostly in his pass protection skills, and this week he a did a good job. The Colts brought linebackers on the blitz quite often in this game, and Turbin was effective at keeping most them away from Wilson.
Doug Baldwin: B+
Doug Baldwin has quietly become the best receiver that the Seahawks have, and the only one who can reliably get open for Russell Wilson. The Seahawks need to get him onto the field for more than just three WR sets.
Sidney Rice: C
Rice continues to struggle to get any sort of separation. While the Seahawks have downplayed Rice's knee problems, he clearly hasn't been the same player he was in past few seasons. While Rice does a lot of little things, like blocking for the running game, he just hasn't been the threat in the passing game that the Seahawks need him to be.
Golden Tate: B+
Seattle continues to design plays to get the ball into Tate's hands, where his athleticism can be a factor. At this point in his career it is probably unreasonable to ask Tate to become a better route runner to help out Wilson in the passing game. However, if Tate can continue to turn bubble screens into 27 yard gains like he did this week, then that's probably okay.
Jermaine Kearse: B
Jermain Kearse continues to be unable to get separation when running routes, but he also showed that sometimes it's not necessary. Kearse made a fantastic play going up to high-point the ball on his touchdown reception. If he can continue to makes plays like that, then he'll continue to contribute to the success of this offense.
Luke Willson: B
With Zach Miller out with an hamstring injury, rookie Luke Willson had some rather large shoes to fill. Luckily for the Seahawks, Willson did an admirable job. Willson had two catches for 28 yards, and looked surprisingly competent as a blocker for much of the game.
Kellen Davis: B
Davis didn't stand out, and that's a good thing. He's become a bit notorious for his penalties since joining the Seahawks, but managed to avoid those in this game. That means that he came in and blocked like he's supposed to, without causing any major problems for the Seahawks.
Pass Blocking: B-
Run Blocking: B+
This was probably the best game for the offensive line all season. The linemen were able to open running lanes for Lynch at times, though not as consistently as the team would ideally want.
The pass blocking was improved, but still not to the level the Seahawks are looking for. Luckily, the Seahawks have Russell Wilson at quarterback, and he was able to turn a lot of those pressures into positive gains with his legs.
Overall this game represents a nice improvement for this unit, and suggests that better things are ahead for the Seattle offense. If this trend continues, the Seahawks won't be forced to rush back their injured starters, and will be able to let get fully healed before getting those players back on the field.
Chris Clemons: B+
Clemons was the most disruptive of Seattle's defensive ends this week. He was in the backfield causing problems for Colts' quarterback Andrew Luck for much of this game, and forced a fumble that led to points for the Seahawks.
Cliff Avril: B-
Cliff Avril was able to generate pressure on a few plays, but he struggled to do so consistently throughout the game. Avril went through a couple of long stretches where he was completely stymied by the Colts pass blockers.
Red Bryant: A-
Red Bryant is quietly having an amazing season, and this game wasn't any different. Bryant's two-gapping domination in the run game was a very big part of why the Seahawks were able to shut down the Colts' running attack.
Michael Bennett: B
It was good to see Bennett out there after the scary injury he had a week ago, but Bennett simply wasn't as effective as he had been in the first four weeks. Bennett struggled to generate the same consistent inside pressure that he had been so good at creating in previous games.
Brandon Mebane: B+
Much like Bryant, Brandon Mebane has quietly been having a very good year. Mebane continued that this week, notably against the run. His five tackles are a lot for a nose tackle, especially in Seattle's defensive scheme.
Tony McDaniel: B-
Tony McDaniel had his number of snaps drop as the Seahawks tried to get Jordan Hill on the field, and it wasn't good for McDaniel's productivity. McDaniel managed to hold his ground at the point of attack against the run well, but did little else to contribute. McDaniel wasn't effective as an inside pass rusher, and added just one tackle.
Clinton McDonald: B
Clinton McDonald also saw a drop in his playing time this week with the return of Hill, but still managed to make his presence felt as a pass rusher. The Seahawks struggled to generate much in the way of inside pressure; it was McDonald who did so most consistently.
Jordan Hill: B
Hill made his first appearance of the season after recovering from a biceps injury. It was a fairly quiet game for the rookie. Hill managed to get pressure on Luck a few times, even hitting him once.
Wagner had a surprisingly quiet game with just two tackles. The middle linebacker was always around the ball, but was just a step or two late on many plays. Wagner missed some time in the fourth quarter with an unknown injury, although he returned to the field for the Colts' final possession.
In a game where Wagner struggled to get tackles, it was K.J. Wright who made the the difference. The weak-side linebacker was second on the team with nine tackles, and looked more like the 2012 version of himself than what he's shown so far this season.
Bruce Irvin wasted no time in his debut making an impact, as he managed to get a sack on the Colts' first possession. Unfortunately, that was the last big play Irvin made all game. He finished with just three other tackles, despite playing quite a few snaps for the Seahawks.
Richard Sherman: C+
Richard Sherman had what appeared to be the worst game of his young career. Sherman was beat for a long touchdown when there appeared to be miscommunication between him and safety Earl Thomas. Sherman also surrendered a number of catches to Colts receivers in the second half as he just didn't seem to have an answer for Indianapolis wide receiver T.Y. Hilton.
Brandon Browner: C+
Sherman's poor play is getting all of the attention because he's an All-Pro, but Browner was equally as bad. Browner also got beat for a long touchdown and he too couldn't find any answers for the Colts receivers in the fourth quarter.
Walter Thurmond: B-
Thurmond had the best game of Seattle's corners, but he too struggled against the Indianapolis' receivers. Perhaps the players just wore down and got tired, but Seattle simply could not cover any of the Colts receivers down the stretch.
Earl Thomas: B+
Thomas had a very solid game. He was all over the field, and made plays against both the run and the pass. The Colts didn't challenge him much in the passing game, though there was the big miscommunication between him and Sherman on the Colts first touchdown.
Kam Chancellor: B+
Kam Chancellor had a quiet game, which for him isn't ordinary. Seattle's hard-hitting strong safety was held to just five tackles because he wasn't up around the line of scrimmage as often as he normally would be.
Instead, Chancellor was used in coverage more on the Indianapolis TEs, and held Coby Fleener to just two receptions for 15 yards.
Steven Hauschka: B
Hauschka finally missed a field goal. It was bound to happen eventually. The problem is that it wasn't actually missed. It was blocked and then taken back for the touchdown. Other than that Hauschka had a great game, hitting on all four of his other attempts.
Jon Ryan: B
Jon Ryan didn't see the field much in this game. He had only two punts and one was dropped inside the 20 yard-line. Neither punt was returned.
Return Units: B
Golden Tate had another great punt return, this one going for 14 yards. Tate continues to be impressive as a punt returner.
The kick returns weren't quite as impressive. With just a 19.5 yard average, the Seahawks kick return game continues to need work.
Coverage Units: A
The coverage units did their job in this game. Indianapolis kick return David Reed brought four kicks out of the end zone, and only once did he get passed the 20-yard line.