The Seattle Seahawks returned home this week and blew out the visiting Minnesota Vikings by the score of 41-20. The Seahawks dominated throughout the game and looked every bit like the team with the best record in the NFC.
We can state it now as 100% fact: If the Seahawks win remaining 3 home games, they will be the #1 seed in NFC. Road games wouldn't matter— Dave Softy Mahler (@Softykjr) November 18, 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.
It would be difficult to expect more from Seattle's franchise quarterback. Russell Wilson finished 13-of-18 for 230 yards and two touchdowns, before being pulled early in the fourth quarter because the game had become a blowout. Wilson finished with a passer rating of 151.4 (perfect is 158.3) and a QBR of 98.5 (perfect is 100).
When Wilson plays this well, the Seahawks are incredibly tough to beat.
Marshawn Lynch: B+
Marshawn Lynch ran hard in this game and did his best to get the most out of what was generally poor run blocking. Lynch was dealing with defenders in the backfield all game and rarely had any sort of running lane to work with.
Robert Turbin: D
Robert Turbin may have played himself out of some playing time in Seattle's next game. Turbin made a couple of questionable cuts when running the ball, and he ran straight into tackles a number of times in his seven carries. Turbin also completely missed a block on a Wilson scramble in the third quarter, costing the Seahawks a much-needed first down.
Michael Robinson: C-
Fullback Michael Robinson had been improving each week as he worked himself back into the offense, but he took a step back this week. Robinson missed a number of blocks and often ran by the defender who would eventually tackle Lynch. The Seahawks need Robinson to get back to playing like he did a week ago, so they can get the most out of their running game.
Zach Miller: B+
Zach Miller led the team with four receptions and 69 yards. The improved pass blocking at left tackle allowed them to use Miller more as a receiver, and he provided a nice outlet for Wilson when no one else was open.
Luke Willson: B
Rookie Luke Willson had a drop in his playing time this week as the Seahawks went to more four-wide receiver sets. Willson still managed to add one catch for seven yards, and he contributed some decent blocking for the running game.
Doug Baldwin: B+
Doug Baldwin only had two receptions, but he made the most of them. Baldwin had a big 44-yard completion down the right sideline early in the game to set up one score, and a circus catch for a touchdown with 10 seconds to go in the first half. It is concerning, though, that Baldwin was unable to contribute to the offense in the second half .
Golden Tate: C+
Golden Tate finished the game with just one catch, despite being targeted by Wilson five times. Tate had one catch bounce off his hands and struggled to a make an impact throughout this game.
Percy Harvin: B+
The Seahawks finally got their explosive playmaker on the field, and he made an immediate impact. Percy Harvin only had one catch, though it was a highlight-reel grab. Harvin's true impact could be seen in the coverage problems he created. The Vikings were forced to commit multiple players to cover Harvin, leading to openings in the secondary for other players to exploit.
Pete Carroll said Harvin had 16 snaps. Wanted to keep him under 20. Blowout win helped in that.— Bob Condotta (@bcondotta) November 18, 2013
Pass Blocking: B+
Run Blocking: C
Getting left tackle Russell Okung back from his injury made a huge difference in Seattle's pass blocking. Wilson had time to throw more often this week than in most games this season. Wilson was still sacked once, and right guard J.R. Sweezy and right tackle Breno Giacomini both struggled at times, but it was still an improvement for the pass blocking.
The run blocking, on the other hand, took a noticeable step back this week. Lynch was getting hit in the backfield far too often, and there was a general lack of running lanes available in this game. Hopefully this will improve as the recently returned linemen work their way back into a rhythm with their fellow linemen.
Chris Clemons: B-
It was an uncharacteristically quiet afternoon for Chris Clemons. Clemons finished with just one tackle and one pass deflection, and he struggled to get pressure on the Minnesota QBs in this game.
Cliff Avril: B+
Cliff Avril put together a nice little stat line this week: two tackles, a sack, a forced fumble and a pass deflection. For a guy whose playing time was limited so the Seahawks could keep their bigger bodies on the field more this week, it was a solid day for Avril.
Red Bryant: A-
Big Red Bryant made his presence felt this week in his return from a concussion suffered two weeks ago. Bryant had three tackles, two of which were behind the line of scrimmage. Bryant's ability to eat blocks and not be moved when double-teamed was a big part of why the Seahawks were able to keep the Minnesota running game bottled up.
Michael Bennett: B-
Add Michael Bennett's name to the list of Seattle players with uncharacteristically quiet games. Bennett finished with just one tackle and never made his presence felt as an inside pass-rusher.
Brandon Mebane: A-
Nose tackle Brandon Mebane was a big reason the Seahawks were able to shut down the Minnesota running attack. Mebane commanded a double-team on most inside running plays, and he still managed to hold his ground and prevent the Vikings from opening up running lanes.
Tony McDaniel: A
Tony McDaniel had perhaps his best game of the season. He was extremely disruptive, finishing with seven tackles. If the Seahawks can get that type of effort from McDaniel every week through the playoffs, then he's going to be in for a nice payday in the offseason.
Clinton McDonald: A-
This was a bit of a breakthrough game for Clinton McDonald, and not just because of his interception and fumble recovery. McDonald is a pass-rusher, and he is typically a liability against the run. This week, McDonald showed uncharacteristic strength in run defense and was able to avoid getting pushed out of position like he normally would.
Bobby Wagner: A
It would appear that middle linebacker Bobby Wagner is finally fully recovered from the ankle injury suffered earlier in the season. Wagner appeared to be back to his usual level of explosiveness against the run and provided solid coverage against the pass. Wagner had one interception in this game and had another one bounce off his hands.
K.J. Wright: A-
Weak-side linebacker K.J. Wright played well on Sunday, finishing with nine tackles. Wright's general disruptiveness against the run masked a couple of mistakes in coverage, but overall it was a solid game for Wright.
Bruce Irvin: B+
Strong-side linebacker Bruce Irvin's up-and-down season continued this week, as Irvin posted a solid performance. Irvin finished with just three tackles, but the bulk of his contribution was of the type that doesn't show up on the stat sheet. Irvin did a masterful job at setting the edge in the game and keeping Vikings running back Adrian Peterson from getting outside.
Richard Sherman: B+
Seattle's All-Pro cornerback had a less-than-perfect game. He gave up a long touchdown in the first half, as well as a couple of other short passes for first downs. Richard Sherman managed to tighten things up in the second half, but this wasn't the type of performance that is expected out of Sherman.
Walter Thurmond: A-
Walter Thurmond put together a very solid performance in this game. He played solid coverage throughout the game, with an interception returned for a touchdown in the fourth quarter. Seattle's coaches appeared to bench Thurmond for a pair of drives in the first half, and it is still unclear as to why that happened.
Bryon Maxwell: C+
The typically reliable Byron Maxwell struggled in this game and was responsible for giving up a number of receptions by Minnesota receivers. Maxwell also added a textbook open-field tackle of Peterson, proving that Maxwell can offer the Seahawks some of the run support that was lost when Brandon Browner was injured last week.
Earl Thomas: B+
Minnesota's lack of a competent passing attack meant that Seattle free safety Earl Thomas had a relatively quiet day. He finished with six tackles but wasn't able to make his presence felt in the same way as he has in previous weeks.
Kam Chancellor: A-
Strong safety Kam Chancellor was up near the line of scrimmage for most of this game trying to help stop Peterson. Chancellor finished with nine tackles and played a big role in keeping Peterson bottled up. Unfortunately, Chancellor also gave up a few receptions to Minnesota tight end John Carlson.
Jon Ryan: A-
Punter Jon Ryan's brilliant season continued this week. Ryan gave up zero punt return yards against this week on five punts. He has still only given up 15 punt return yards this season.
Steven Hauschka: B+
Kicker Hauschka was perfect on both of his field-goal attempts on Sunday, including hitting one from 50 yards. Unfortunately, he wasn't able to do as well on his kickoffs. Hauschka wasn't able to hit the ball deep enough to prevent returns, and he also wasn't able to kick the ball away from dangerous Minnesota return man Cordarrelle Patterson.
Coverage Units: B
While the punt coverage unit was dominant as usual, the kick return unit struggled this week. Patterson averaged 29.3 yards on four kick returns.
Return Units: B-
The Seahawks were unable to get Tate into space this week, leading to a disappointing 5.7 yards per return average for their dynamic punt returner. The kickoff return unit looked rather ordinary on the first few returns until Harvin made his debut returning kicks. Harvin took his only return 58 yards, giving Seahawks fans a glimpse of big things to come now that Harvin has returned from his hip injury.