The Seattle Seahawks went on the road and blew out the Atlanta Falcons 33-10. This was a statement game for the Seahawks, as they dominated in all three phases of the game the team that knocked them out of the playoffs last season.
Seahawks: 9-1 for first time in team history—ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) November 10, 2013
So just who is most responsible for Seattle's big win? It is time to 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.
- Plus and minus modifiers bridge the gaps inside those definitions.
Russell Wilson: A-
Russell Wilson put up some big numbers this week. He completed 19 of 26 passes for 285 yards and two touchdowns. He averaged a terrific 11 yards per pass attempt while not committing any turnovers.
The only criticism is that Wilson took a sack when the game was still close that knocked the Seahawks out of field-goal range. He was near the sideline, and just had to lob the ball out of bounds to preserve the chance at points but wasn't willing to do so.
Wilson needs to get better at knowing when is the right time to take risks and when he needs to take the points.
This was a statement game for Marshawn Lynch. He finished with 24 carries, 145 yards and a touchdown. The most impressive part is that a good amount of his yardage came after contact. Lynch is looking as dominant as ever, which can only mean good things for the Seahawks.
Michael Robinson: B+
Seattle's big fullback appears to be finally back to full speed after missing the first seven weeks of the season. Michael Robinson looked like a powerful blocker in this game, missing far fewer blocks that he did a week ago. It seems that the coaches noticed as well, as Robinson appeared to be in on far more plays in this game than in the two games prior.
Christine Michael: B+
This game saw some rare carries for rookie Christine Michael. He looked every bit like the explosive player the Seahawks believed they were getting when they selected him in the second round of last April's draft. Michael had eight carries for 33 yards, and all of them came when the Falcons knew Seattle had no intention of passing the football.
Golden Tate: A-
Doug Baldwin: B+
Jermaine Kearse: B+
The Seahawks were able to get steady production out of all three of their main wide receivers in this game, and all came up big for Seattle. Each of them had his chance to shine and took full advantage of the opportunity.
Golden Tate went over 100 yards with six receptions, including his nifty one-handed touchdown reception. Doug Baldwin added five receptions for 75 yards.
Jermaine Kearse had only three receptions, but these catches contributed 75 yards and a touchdown for Seattle. Kearse had his best performance as a member of the Seahawks, and he is starting to make an impact with this offense.
It will be interesting to see how the rotation at wide receiver changes in the next couple of weeks once Percy Harvin gets his first action in a Seattle uniform.
Zach Miller: B
Zach Miller had a quiet outing for the Seahawks. He was never targeted in the passing game, but the Seahawks didn't need him to be a receiver. Instead, Miller spent much of this game blocking, and he performed very well.
Luke Willson: B+
The Seahawks moved rookie Luke Willson all over the formation in this game, as if they were trying to get favorable matchups in coverage. Oddly, the Seahawks then used Wilson as a blocker on many of those plays. Willson's blocking has been improving as the season progresses.
The Seahawks run-blocking was solid throughout the game. Marshawn Lynch had some nice holes to run through on some plays, but not on as many as his 145 rushing yards would suggest. Lynch earned many of those yards after contact.
For the first time, the pass-blocking was better than the run-blocking. Russell Wilson regularly had time to look down the field and go through his progressions. That led to good things for Seattle's offense.
To make this happen, the Seahawks used an odd rotation with their offensive linemen. On obvious passing downs, the Seahawks brought rookie Alvin Bailey off the bench to play left tackle. Paul McQuistan has struggled in pass-blocking at that spot all season, and getting Bailey in there paid instant dividends for Seattle.
Brandon Mebane: A-
The Seahawks needed their big nose tackle to have a big game this week, and he delivered the performance they were looking for. Brandon Mebane had his most disruptive game in a month and was a huge part of Seattle's defensive success in this game.
Tony McDaniel: Incomplete
Tony McDaniel was having an very solid game up until leaving with a hamstring injury. The Seahawks' defensive line had already been hit with injuries, so coaches have to be worried about when McDaniel will be able to return to the field.
Clinton McDonald: B
The Seahawks did a better job this week of limiting McDonald's snaps against the run. This allowed the tackle to concentrate on doing what he does best, which is rush the passer. McDonald was in the face of Atlanta QB Matt Ryan and disrupted a number of plays, but he was never able to turn that pressure into a sack.
Michael Brooks: B+
Michael Brooks wasted no time making an impact in his first action of the season, getting a tackle in his first series on the field. It was his only tackle, but Brooks still played well after that point. He did a good job of not getting pushed around in the running game and provided some decent pressure up the middle in pass-rushing situations.
Chris Clemons: C+
This was a bit of a disappointing game for Chris Clemons. He finished with no tackles and just one QB hit, even though the Falcons were missing their starting LT. Clemons was also responsible for jumping offsides at least once, extending an Atlanta drive.
Cliff Avril: B
Cliff Avril was the recipient of some extra snaps due to the absence of Red Bryant. He responded by playing better than he has in recent games, as he disrupted Matt Ryan and Atlanta's passing attack in a few instances. Avril got one sack in this game, but he also gave up a 15-yard horse-collar penalty.
Michael Bennett: B+
Michael Bennett was Seattle's best pass-rusher in this game; he was able to consistently get pressure on Ryan. Unfortunately, it seemed that every time he got Ryan to the ground for a sack, the play was nullified by a penalty.
Bobby Wagner: B
Middle linebacker Bobby Wagner finished this game with nine tackles, which led the Seahawks, but many of them were further downfield than to Seattle's liking. He continues to work his way back up to form following his ankle injury, but he isn't yet playing at the level he was before getting hurt.
K.J. Wright: A-
K.J. Wright had only five tackles in this game, but that doesn't tell the entire story of his day. Wright set the tone early with a pair of big hits and continually came up with big stops or solid coverage on third downs throughout the game.
Bruce Irvin: B-
Bruce Irvin's up-and-down season as he learns to play linebacker continued with another down game. Irvin finished with just two tackles, and wasn't much of a factor in this game. He did appear to do a better job of maintaining his gap responsibilities against the run this week, so there has been improvement.
Malcolm Smith: B+
Over the last few weeks, Seattle defense has been at its best when the least athletic of its four main linebackers is on the field. Malcolm Smith got plenty of playing time this week subbing in and getting the other three guys some rest, and the defense was better for it. The Seahawks need to continue to find playing time for Smith, even if that means taking one of the other guys off the field.
Richard Sherman: A
Richard Sherman looked every bit like an All-Pro this week. He was matched up on Atlanta wide receiver Roddy White for most of the game and completely shut him down.
Brandon Browner: Incomplete
Browner was having an excellent game, right up to the point when he left with an injured groin. The Seahawks are now wondering when their big cornerback will be able to return to the field.
Walter Thurmond: A-
Thurmond came in for Browner and played very well. He finished with seven tackles, including two tackles for a loss. Thurmond did a good job of reading Atlanta's shorter passes and coming up to make tackles.
Thurmond was also responsible for giving up Atlanta's biggest play of the game, a 31-yard pass to Atlanta wide receiver Harry Douglas. Thurmond also chased Douglas down from behind and forced him to fumble the ball, so it is impossible to be too critical of Thurmond on the play.
Earl Thomas: B+
Earl Thomas didn't have the big tackle numbers that he's had the last two weeks, but he still had a major impact in this game with his coverage skills. Thomas helped to take away the intermediate passes in the middle of the field, which is typically the strength of Atlanta's offense.
Kam Chancellor: A-
The Seahawks matched up strong safety Kam Chancellor on Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez, and Chancellor won the matchup for most of the game. Gonzalez was held to just three receptions and wasn't able to have his usual impact.
Chancellor was able to keep one of the best TEs in NFL history in check throughout the game.
Steven Hauschka: A
Kicker Steven Hauschka made all four of the field goals, including one from 53 yards. Hauschka has been perfect this season, aside from the one kick that was blocked.
Jon Ryan: B+
Punter Jon Ryan had only two punts in this game. He dropped one at the 10-yard line and had the other bounce into the end zone. If he could have pinned the second punt inside the 20, this grade would have been an A for Ryan.
Coverage Teams: A-
It is difficult to find fault in Seattle's coverage teams in this game. Only one of Atlanta's three kick returns made it out passed the 20-yard line, and neither of Jon Ryan's punts were returned. The only fault that can be found was the inability to get downfield and stop Ryan's second punt from bouncing into the end zone.
Return Teams: B
The Seahawks kickoff return unit continues to be only average, though that could change once Percy Harvin returns. The punt return unit, on the other hand, has been great, and that continued today. Golden Tate averaged 18 yards per return, though he let bounce one punt that should have been fielded on the fly, forcing the Seahawks to start a drive inside their 10-yard line.