The Seattle Seahawks went on the road and dominated the Arizona Cardinals 34-22 in a game that wasn't nearly as close as the score might suggest. As good as the Seahawks looked at times, there were also a couple of key mistakes that will need to be cleaned up before the Seahawks take on the St. Louis Rams next week.
The Seahawks overcame a couple of bad turnovers deep inside their own territory by dominating on the defensive side of the ball for much of the night. The Seahawks were also able to sustain drives better than they have all season, leading to some impressive offensive numbers.
So just who was to blame for Seattle's miscues, and who was responsible for helping the team run away with an easy victory? 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 bridge the gaps inside those definitions.
Russell Wilson: B+
Russell Wilson's passing numbers looked very good. He finished 18-of-29 for 235 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions. Also impressive was the way in which he compiled many of those stats. Wilson faced major pressure all night and delivered highlight-reel plays throughout the game.
Unfortunately, Wilson continues to put the ball on the ground at an alarming rate. He had three fumbles in this game, and only one can be blamed on poor blocking. Wilson needs to speed up his internal clock. He's holding onto the ball far too long, and defenders are using that as a tool to generate turnovers.
It can be easy to simply expect Marshawn Lynch to be dominant in every game that he plays in and simply take his greatness for granted. Lynch's 21 carries for 91 yards and a late touchdown might not seem like a dominant performance, but it was.
According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required) 80 of those 91 yards came after contact. That is a lot of hard-fought yardage for Seattle's franchise running back.
Robert Turbin: B
The Seahawks continue to use Robert Turbin sparingly in the running game. He had only three carries on Thursday for just 15 yards. Turbin's primary responsibilities remains as in the passing game, where his ability to pick up the blitz was on display this week.
Derrick Coleman: B
Derrick Coleman did his job early on, but a first-half hamstring injury limited him to just nine snaps. Seattle's short-yardage running game definitely suffered without Coleman as a lead blocker. The big concern now is how long Coleman will be out, or if the team needs to bring in another fullback in the mean time.
The Seahawks have officially confirmed they are bringing Michael Robinson in for a physical tomorrow.— Bob Condotta (@bcondotta) October 20, 2013
Golden Tate: A
Golden Tate normally struggles to get separation on standard routes, but he had no problem doing so in this game. Tate made Arizona corner Patrick Peterson look surprisingly ordinary at times in this game. This was an important step for Tate, and he must now show that he is capable of continuing to play at this high level from week to week.
Sidney Rice: B+
For the first time all year, Sidney Rice has shown some of the explosiveness that fans have been accustomed to seeing from him throughout his career. It was only on a few plays, including his 31-yard touchdown reception, but it was there.
If Rice can fully regain his form, the Seahawks offense will be able to take a large step forward.
Doug Baldwin: B
Doug Baldwin seemed to have a bit of an off-game. He struggled to get off jams and wasn't able to get the separation from defenders that he usually does. While his teammates were taking a step forward, Baldwin's play took a step backward in this game.
Jermaine Kearse: B
Jermaine Kearse did little to stand out as a receiver in this game. He added just one reception on three targets despite being on the field for roughly half of the team's offensive snaps. Overall, it wasn't a bad outing for Kearse, especially if his downfield blocking is factored in, but the Seahawks need more out of their young receiver.
Zach Miller: A-
After missing two games with an injury, Zach Miller returned to the lineup in a big way. Miller played in 53 of Seattle's 70 offensive snaps, and his presence was felt in all phases of the offense. Miller had five receptions, including a big touchdown. As long as Miller continues to perform like he did in this game, Seattle's offense will continue to improve.
Luke Willson: B
After a couple of very good games filling in for Miller, Willson struggled to find the same level of production with a decreased workload. Wilson's one big catch for 23 yards ended up being overshadowed by inconsistent blocking. It was his failed blocked that doomed Seattle's attempt on 4th-and-1 in the second quarter.
Kellen Davis: B+
With Miller active again, Kellen Davis saw only seven snaps with the offense. Despite the lack of playing time, Davis was still able to contribute a touchdown in the passing game, and was quite effective as a run blocker. After a rough start to the season, Davis has settled in and become a consistent performer for the Seahawks this season.
Pass Blocking: B-
Run Blocking: B-
After two straight weeks of improvement, the offensive line regressed a bit this week. The biggest difference came at right tackle, where the normally solid Michael Bowie struggled to block outside linebacker John Abraham.
The rest of the line played much like it has the past couple of weeks. Center Max Unger played well, while left tackle Paul McQuistan clearly did not. Guards James Carpenter and J.R. Sweezy both blocked well for the running game but struggled in pass protection.
The offensive line remains a work in progress and likely won't show any significant improvement until left tackle Russell Okung can return from his foot injury.
Brandon Mebane: B+
Brandon Mebane didn't play at his usual dominant level, but he still played well for the Seahawks. Mebane contributed just one tackle and wasn't able to get his usual upfield push to disrupt the running game. Much of this had to do with the Cardinals game-planning against Mebane, as he faced more double-teams in this game than he usually sees.
Tony McDaniel: A-
Tony McDaniel took advantage of Mebane drawing almost all of the double-teams to put together his best game as a Seahawk. McDaniel added a sack and two tackles behinds the line of scrimmage, and he was disruptive against both the run and pass throughout the game.
If McDaniel can continue to be as disruptive as he was in this game, the Seahawks are going to have to find him additional snaps in the rotation at defensive tackle.
Clinton McDonald: A-
With the Seahawks choosing to leave rookie Jordan Hill inactive for this game, it was up to Clinton McDonald to pick up the slack in the rotation at defensive tackle. Fortunately, McDonald did exactly what the Seahawks needed him to do.
McDonald provided some effective inside pressure against the Arizona passing game and picked up another sack in the process. McDonald also played surprisingly well against the run, which is typically a weakness in his game.
Michael Bennett: A-
Michael Bennett's five QB pressures led the team, as did his three QB hits, though he was only able to turn that pressure into a half-sack. Bennett showed no signs of the back injury that slowed him in the two previous games.
Chris Clemons: A
The Seahawks weren't expecting Chris Clemons to play in this game after hyperextending his elbow against the Titans in Week 6. Clemons not only played, he dominated Arizona left tackle Bradley Sowell throughout the game. The Seahawks need Clemons to use the long week get fully healthy and hope that he can play at this level next week against the Rams.
Cliff Avril: B
Cliff Avril got the start in place of the injured Clemons, but he spent most of the game on the other side of the formation with Clemons playing in his usual spot. Avril contributed occasional pressure, but he wasn't able to consistently get pressure on Arizona QB Carson Palmer.
Malcolm Smith: A-
This may have been the best game of linebacker Malcolm Smith's career. He finished with nine tackles, a sack, two tackles for loss and a pass deflection. The move back across the formation to weak-side linebacker, the position he played last season, has clearly been good for Smith.
Smith has made a strong case for more playing time in the coming weeks.
K.J. Wright: B
K.J. Wright continues to fill in competently at middle linebacker for the injured Bobby Wagner. Wright had seven tackles and a half-sack, and he did a fantastic job plugging holes against the run. Wright did struggle a bit in coverage and was responsible for most of Arizona tight end Rob Housler's seven receptions.
Bruce Irvin: B
Bruce Irvin rebounded from a rough game against the Titans a week ago to have a solid game this week. The best part was that Irvin's impact wasn't just as a pass-rusher. Irvin was also solid against the run and in coverage. This is a great sign for the Seahawks and their starting strong-side linebacker.
Richard Sherman: A
Richard Sherman looked like the best cornerback in the NFL in this game. His coverage was outstanding. He wasn't able to get an interception, but he did force Arizona's wide receivers to act like defenders in order to prevent Sherman from getting at least two picks in this game.
Brandon Browner: A
Brandon Browner rebounded nicely after getting benched a week ago. He combined good coverage with four tackles and three passes defended. This is that type of effort that the Seahawks had been looking for out of Browner the past couple of weeks and haven't gotten.
Now, Browner needs to string together a few of these performances in a row and show that he's truly back to his 2012 form once again.
Walter Thurmond: B
Walter Thurmond struggled at times in this game. Arizona wide receiver Andre Roberts was the only consistent performer for the Cardinals in the first half, and it was Thurmond in coverage on most of those receptions. Thurmond adjusted, though, and was able to shut down Roberts in the second half.
Earl Thomas: A
Earl Thomas continues to play at an All-Pro level. He was all over the field in this game, collecting six tackles, deflecting one pass and intercepting another. When Thomas plays at this level, he makes everyone in Seattle's secondary better.
Kam Chancellor: A-
Kam Chancellor put together a very complete performance, looking solid both as a run defender and in coverage. On one play, Chancellor completely manhandled Arizona right tackle Bobbie Massie, pushing him six yards into the backfield and completely blowing up a running play. Chancellor might be the only safety in the NFL capable of defeating an offensive tackle in that way.
Steven Hauschka: A
Kicker Steven Hauschka put together another perfect outing, making all six of his kicks (two field goals, and four extra points). He also drove the ball high and deep on his kickoffs. Half of the six kickoffs went for touchbacks, and the other three were returned for an average of under 20 yards per return.
Jon Ryan: B+
Due to Seattle's scoring success and turnovers, punter Jon Ryan only had three punts in this game. His punting average was a rather low 41.3 yards per punt and didn't include any that were dropped inside the 20.
Coverage Units: A
Ryan's three punt resulted in zero punt returns. The coverage teams did an excellent job of getting down field and forcing the ever-dangerous punt returner Patrick Peterson to call for a fair catch each time.
The kickoff coverage units were almost as impressive. Only one of Arizona's three kick returns was able to get outside of the 20-yard line.
Return Units: B
Golden Tate returned a punt back for a touchdown. Unfortunately, it was called back for an illegal block on a player who had no chance to ever stopping the return. It was an unfortunate penalty on what was otherwise an amazing return.
Even without that return, Tate still managed to average 13.5 yards per punt return in this game. When Tate was out with an injury, things didn't look nearly as good. Richard Sherman returned a punt for a loss of six yards and ended with him fumbling the ball.
On kick returns, the Seahawks struggled to make good things happen. Jermaine Kearse averaged just nine yards on his two kick returns and was stopped before reaching the 20-yard line on both returns.
A special tip of the hat goes to backup tight end Kellen Davis, who wisely batted an onside kick attempt out of bounds to prevent the Cardinals from recovering.