The Seattle Seahawks are a team on the ropes in the 2011 season.
With just two wins under their belts compared to six losses, they have almost no hope of catching up to the division leader San Francisco 49ers for a shot in the playoffs. They won’t make it as a wild card.
And play they did, shocking the Ravens with three turnovers and managing to pull ahead to a lead lead from which the Ravens would never recover.
Over the next 10 slides, we’ll look at some lessons we learned about the Seahawks in the22-17 victory over the Ravens.
The Seahawks managed to grab most of their points early on thanks to a pair of turnovers from their special teams unit. David Reed returned the ball three times, and fumbled it for a loss twice to give the Seahawks offense fabulous field position.
Despite the amazing field position, the offense continued to struggle. The Baltimore defense has been incredibly stingy with points until this game, and the trend continued.
The Seahawks were only able to find the end zone once. They were held to field goals five times, which is inexcusable given their starting field position on most of their drives.
Kudos go to Steven Hauschka for his perfect day, though.
By the numbers, Tarvaris Jackson didn’t have a great game. He went 17/27 for 217 yards and zero touchdowns. He didn’t have any turnovers, but he also didn’t have much luck getting his team jump started offensively.
Keep in mind, though, that Jackson was playing injured. Not just injured on paper, but injured in a way that maybe should have kept him out of the game against the Ravens.
Pectoral injuries are incredibly painful, and they take time to heal. Jackson was clearly favoring his throwing arm before the game, yet when it was time to perform he managed to keep it together.
It was perhaps fortunate that his offensive line stepped up to the plate, allowing just one sack for the day. Then there was also the fabulously good play by Marshawn Lynch to take some of the pressure off of Jackson…
Once Marshawn Lynch gets going he can be nearly impossible to bring down. While all eyes in the league are on running backs like Fred Jackson and Ray Rice, Marshawn Lynch has been quietly evolving into a beast.
Lynch did everything the Seahawks asked of him today, powering through the defense as a runner and gaining yards after the catch as a receiver. He accrued 167 all-around yards and a touchdown.
When his team needed to run out the clock, Lynch stepped up and got the job done. He was hands-down the game’s MVP.
It’s no secret that tight end Zach Miller is frustrated with his 2011 season. He’s missed a game and a half due to injury. Coming into the game against the Ravens, he had just nine catches all season long. He’s been a valuable asset to his team as a blocker, but he wants more than that—and rightfully so.
Things started looking up for Miller today. He got his hands on three receptions for 24 yards, breaking his drought. He’s still an integral part of the blocking game, but
One of the themes that coaches touched on in press conferences before the game was the number of penalties that the Seahawks accrue in pretty much every game.
This week, the lack of discipline continued. The Seahawks were able to control themselves for most of the game, but as the 60-minute mark approached they threw caution to the wind.
The tone of the game seemed to really just be exemplified by the helmet-to-helmet hit where Kam Chancellor took down Anquan Boldin.
If the hit had come just a few inches lower, the pass would have been broken up and Chancellor would have been a hero. Instead, he handed 15 yards and a ton of momentum over to Baltimore.
The Seahawks earned many of their penalties against the Ravens. Make no mistake about that.
On a few of the calls, though, it seemed as though the referees were a little bit flag happy when it came to the Seahawks.
Seemingly minor infractions drew huge penalties where the punishment seemed out of line with the crime.
Other teams that have developed reputations for being highly-penalized face similar problems: The refs keep a special eye on those teams, throwing flags where they otherwise might have turned a blind eye.
Anquan Boldin was neatly shut down today, reeling in just 2 catches for 22 yards. Part of that was poor throws on Joe Flacco’s part, but the rest was all thanks to a huge defensive effort to contain the receiver.
Richard Sherman was assigned to Boldin for much of the game, and he did an excellent job of covering him. Most of the time, there was no way for Joe Flacco to even try getting the ball to Boldin, which forced him to look for alternative options.
It’s a little bit unclear what Heath Farwell was thinking when he ran into the mess at the three-yard line to try to pick up a downed punt.
If not for a rules technicality, he could have been responsible for giving the Ravens the ball a matter of feet from the end zone.
Even though it didn’t turn out badly this time, you can bet that whatever Farwell was thinking as he reached for the football it had nothing to do with whether the ball was downed or not. That’s a huge matter of concern for his special teams coach to address.
With a 3-6 record coming out of this game, it is pretty much a done deal that Seattle will be watching the playoffs from home this year.
That being said, when they matched up against the Ravens they showed signs that both offensively and defensively they are starting to click.
The Seahawks managed to stall one of the best offenses in the NFL while simultaneously putting up enough points to come away with the game. Fans should be encouraged by those signs of improvement—hopefully they’ll continue through the rest of the season.