Tarvaris Jackson, who earlier stated he didn't like throwing in the rain, ran in Seattle's only touchdown in a 13-10 victory over the Arizona Cardinals. In that one ill-advised run he showed toughness and grit, helping to silence the resounding boos from the fans, though I doubt many more are firmly in his favor as there were noticeable cheers when the Seahawks quarterback was rattled, prompting backup Charlie Whitehurst to warm up just in case.
Jackson finished the game 18-of-31 for 171 yards, no passing touchdowns and one interception that came on a half-ending Hail Mary in which he was flushed from the pocket and had to recover. All in all, Jackson had a solid game.
However, it took another strong performance by the Seattle defense to finish what Jackson couldn't put away. A late interception by Kam Chancellor killing any real possibility of a win-or-tie situation with just over a minute left, the safety also causing a key fumble on special teams to prevent a run back on the Cardinals' next punt return.
As frustrating as it is to watch this defense play, it has been effective. It's not talented enough in the secondary to just lock down on receivers, but it is executing a bend-but-don't-break philosophy as good as you could possibly ask it to. The only difference is that it had the opportunity to feast on one of the most discombobulated teams in the NFL, garnering three QB sacks and two interceptions (Chancellor and Marcus Trufant), which could have very easily been four as the corners and safeties played more aggressively.
Earl Thomas had an interception called back early in the game (the previously mentioned Chancellor absolutely brutalizing 6'5", 252-pound TE Todd Heap on the play) and just missed another opportunity on Larry Fitzgerald's lone touchdown grab. When they say a tight end is nice because he's too fast for linebackers to cover and too big for safeties, Chancellor wasn't on their minds, as the second-year player continues to play at a high level.
The defense held a constantly backpedaling unit to 90 yards rushing on 3.2 yards a carry. Little of the thanks going to rookie K.J. Wright, who was promoted to the first-string defense after replacing Aaron Curry. Wright failed to register a stat and his presence in the game was not particularly evident—Curry at least managed two total tackles in limited snaps. I question whether or not Wright is the better option as Curry wasn't playing poorly in my view—certainly not bad enough to get demoted.
Yes, the Seahawks came out of this game with a very important win over a division rival at home, putting a very important W in the "home wins" and "division wins" columns, but as much as I would like to be in a full-on cheer mode, I personally do not think much of the Arizona Cardinals.
Only beating them by three points was a bit of a disappointment to me, and as Darnell Dockett put it, Seattle looked "soft as cotton" on offense. The line play was physical, but the Cardinals haven't had a defensive line stop the run in quite some time and the fact Seattle gained only 73 yards on less than four yards per carry with Marshawn Lynch as the lead back is a little disheartening, to say the least.
Are the Seahawks making strides in the run game, or were their overall stats just a product of the matchups? I believe strongly that the latter is the case.
Why can Tarvaris Jackson still not find Zach Miller open on plays? If the line is as bad as a lot of us say it is, he should be priority No. 1 as an offensive safety valve, yet he failed to gain double-digit yards. Sidney Rice catching over 100 yards worth of passes on eight catches (10 targets) was nice, and I only hope that Larry Fitzgerald-lite can help open up the passing game and running lanes with a game like the one he had, because it's bad when your next best receiver doesn't even get half of the targets.
As poorly as this team has played over the first three weeks, I still believe it has the offensive firepower to at least go undefeated against NFC West opposition within the confines of the Clink. It's beyond that where everything gets sort of murky. I think Seattle can beat Cincinnati and Cleveland, but it is clearly playing like a team in the gutter.
As long as the youth, inexperience and lack of cohesion holds Seattle back, all it has to go on is pure potential, which will not win it much in the short term. Jackson must be a more effective passer, the offensive line must gel and the defense must continue to play at an exceptionally high level to keep the Seahawks in games.
They were only two missed field goals from letting this one slip away.
I feel like I'm talking about the Seattle Mariners all over again, built around defense but with no scoring bite, only long-term hope and potential. Atlanta will brave its flight to Seattle and the 'Hawks should quickly resume their losing ways.
Players of the Game
Offense: Sidney Rice
Defense: Kam Chancellor, Marcus Trufant, Chris Clemons
Special Teams: Kam Chancellor
Offense: Tarvaris Jackson, Mike Williams
Defense: K.J. Wright
Special Teams: Jon Ryan