The Seattle Seahawks went on the road and crushed the New York Giants, shutting them out 23-0. Seattle dominated in all three phases of the game and looked every bit like the current Super Bowl favorite.
#Seahawks win 23-0, improve to 12-2 and a franchise best 6-2 on the road. Can clinch division and No. 1 seed with one more win.— John Boyle (@johnpboyle) December 15, 2013
The Seahawks now need just one win, or one San Francisco loss, in the final two weeks of the season to clinch home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. The Seahawks also have both of their remaining games at home, where they haven't lost a game since 2011.
So just who shined for the Seahawks in New York, and who is most responsible for Seattle securing the shutout? 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.
All stats are taken from NFL.com.
Russell Wilson: C+
Russell Wilson was off-target on a number of throws, including missing open tight end Zach Miller in the end zone. Wilson struggled by holding onto the the ball far too long at times, leading to three of the four sacks by the Giants. Add in an ugly interception, and it was definitely an atypical game for Seattle's franchise passer.
Wilson wasn't awful by any means, but the Seahawks have come to expect more from their quarterback. Wilson has played so well over the past two seasons that even an average performance like this one feels like a disappointment.
Marshawn Lynch: A-
Robert Turbin: B-
Marshawn Lynch ran hard, but the run blocking was so bad it was tough to tell in his stats. Lynch finished with just 47 yards on 16 carries, though he also added an important touchdown.
Lynch was still able to have a major impact on the offense by getting involved in the passing game. Lynch's six receptions tied for the most on the Seahawks, and his 73 receiving yards led the team.
Robert Turbin continues to run hard and was effective when filling in for Lynch for random carries throughout the game. Things fell apart when Turbin was asked to carry the load once Lynch had been pulled from the game in the fourth quarter. When the Giants knew Seattle was going to run, Turbin was ineffective.
Doug Baldwin: A-
Golden Tate: D
Jermaine Kearse: B-
Doug Baldwin had another big game and was clearly the best wide receiver on the field for Seattle Sunday. His six catches led the Seahawks receivers and was a third of Seattle's passing offense against the Giants.
On the other end of the spectrum would be Golden Tate. Tate had more passes bounce off his hands (three) than he had catches (two). Tate struggled to make a positive impact on the offense and looked lost at times in this game.
Jermaine Kearse also finished with just two catches, though with much less playing time than Tate. Kearse is never a huge threat in the passing game, but his blocking skills are a major asset every week for Seattle.
Zach Miller: B+
Luke Willson: B-
Seattle's duo at tight end combined for only three catches for 31 yards. That's not the type of production expected against a team that has struggled to cover tight ends all season. That wasn't all on the tight ends, though. Wilson missed Miller when he was wide open on multiple occasions, including once in the end zone.
The blocking from the tight ends remains a strength for the Seahawks. This was especially true of Miller, who was left one-on-one as a pass-blocker against a defensive end on a few plays against the Giants and didn't surrender a QB disruption.
Run Blocking: D
Pass Blocking: B-
Seattle's blocking seems to be regressing. The run blocking has been dreadful now for a month, and the pass blocking is starting to dip back down after considerable recent improvement.
The run blocking was especially concerning in this game. Marshawn Lynch was dealing with unblocked defenders in the backfield throughout the game, and there were very few running lanes for him to run through.
The pass blocking also wasn't where the team wants it to be. Wilson faced a lot of pressure, especially coming from the right side. Wilson was also sacked four times, though three of those were partially caused by his holding onto the ball too long.
Michael Bennett: A
Chris Clemons: B
Cliff Avril: A-
Red Bryant: A-
Seattle's pass rush was exceptional in this game. Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril were pressuring quarterback Eli Manning on almost every pass play. Even Red Bryant was able to contribute, and he is almost exclusively a run-stopper.
The only negative was more inconsistency from Chris Clemons. After making a major impact when he first returned from his knee injury earlier this season, his play has dropped off and he hasn't had the same impact for this defense. Clemons is an important player for this team, and Seattle needs him to find the form he had last season and earlier this year.
Brandon Mebane: A-
Tony McDaniel: Incomplete
Clinton McDonald: B+
Jordan Hill: B
Tony McDaniel played very limited snaps in this game after being out all week with an illness. Luckily, Clinton McDonald and Jordan Hill filled in admirably.
The play of Seattle's defensive tackles was a large part of why the Giants were held to just 25 yards on 13 rushing attempts. There were just no holes for the New York backs to run through. This was especially true for Brandon Mebane, whose performance appears to be peaking at the right time for Seattle.
Bobby Wagner: A-
Malcolm Smith: B+
Bruce Irvin: B+
There was a lot of concern about how this group would play after losing K.J. Wright to a broken bone in his foot last week. It would seem that the concern was unwarranted. Malcolm Smith stepped in and played very well, providing five tackles to go with solid coverage on passing plays.
Bobby Wagner and Bruce Irvin continued their recent string of very good games. Wagner led Seattle's defense with 10 tackles and 1.5 sacks. Irvin added three tackles while setting the edge on runs and keeping the Giants from getting to the outside.
Richard Sherman: A
Byron Maxwell: A
Jeremy Lane: B+
It is also impossible to find fault with the play of this group. Richard Sherman and Byron Maxwell each had two interceptions and played excellent in coverage throughout the game. Jeremy Lane also played well, though he struggled to cover wide receiver Jerell Jernigan at times in the fourth quarter.
Earl Thomas: B+
Kam Chancellor: A-
Strong safety Kam Chancellor was second on the team with five tackles, and he delivered a pair of his signature big hits. Chancellor was intimidating in the center of the field on short passing plays while adding solid run support.
Earl Thomas failed to have much of an impact in this game. The Giants simply refused to test him by throwing into the center of the field. Thomas had just four tackles, though he added a fourth-quarter interception in the end zone that helped preserve the shutout for the Seahawks.
Steven Hauschka: B
Steven Hauschka was perfect on his three field-goal attempts, but his kickoffs left much to be desired. Three of the six weren't deep enough to end up as touchbacks. A fourth kickoff went out of bounds, which is a major mistake for a kicker.
Jon Ryan: A-
Punter Jon Ryan's quest for the NFL record for fewest punting yards allowed took a hit this week. Giving up one return for four yards might be insignificant in terms of affecting the game, but he now must give less than three return yards total in the team's final two games to break the record.
Ryan averaged just 37.9 yards on his seven punts in this game. He did drop three of them inside the 20-yard line, but that average definitely could be better.
Coverage Units: B+
Overall, the coverage units were superb. Only one of seven punts were returned, and for only four yards. The kick coverage was also solid, though there was one return that actually picked up decent yardage for the Giants.
The bigger problem was the blocking on the punt team. After having a kick blocked a week ago, the Seahawks were close to having two others blocked this week. Clearly this is something that the Seahawks need to work on before the playoffs begin.
Return Units: A-
Seattle's punt return unit remains one of the league's best. Tate averaged 10 yards per return on seven punts and provided the Seahawks with good field position throughout most of the game.
The kick return unit never got a chance to earn any grade in this game. The opening kickoff went for a touchback, and the return team never got a chance to try again.