The Seahawks cruised to victory in London with a 27-3 rout of the hapless Oakland Raiders. It was a throwback win for the Seahawks, in that it was fun and easy, and was largely a reminder of why we fell in love with this version of the team. Russell Wilson was cooking, running backs weren’t getting hit in the backfield, and young dudes on defense were balling out. Sunday morning saw a cool group of football guys break the will of another team. Again: fun. Let’s break down what happened:
• The Seahawks pass rush, which had looked dismal for first few weeks of the season, is rounding into shape. Frank Clark and Jarran Reed both look really good right now. Clark had 2.5 sacks, two forced fumbles, and another big sack called back for a weird penalty. Reed, along with Shamar Stephen and Poona Ford, did a great job of bottling up Marshawn Lynch, which, as we all know, is no easy task. Now there’s a pretty big caveat with all of this which is…
• The Raiders offensive line is coached by Tom Cable, who tormented us Seahawks fans and our offensive line coach for the bulk of the Pete Carroll era. Getting to go up against his fleet of matadors and grapplers, who were coached into either dodging or holding on any given play was a cathartic treat. That their line was devastated by injuries made the Seahawks rushers’ jobs all the easier. But that won’t take away an iota of my joy from getting to be on the other side of Tom Cable line meltdown for once. As much as this game in London was about the Seahawks finally putting a complete game together, it was even more about Tom Cable still being goddamn dreadful.
• Doug Baldwin is back-ish. While he wasn’t 100 percent, and was unable to stay open on a deep route and got blown up on Russ’ sole pick, he led the team with six catches for 91 yards. Aside from lacking strength on those two plays, he looked like the Doug of old. He also looked strong celebrating:
• Barkevious Mingo is not just a dude with a cool name, but an increasingly crucial part of this Seahawks defense and special teams. His ability to provide tackling in space, pass rush, and coverage makes him the linebacking Swiss Army Knife the team has needed as they’ve been without K.J. Wright. And with Wright coming back, it should be fun to watch Mingo pin his ears back a bit more and go after the passer. This Seahawks team is still too shallow for comfort, but they’re getting stronger in so many ways as the year goes on.
• For the second week in a row, the Seahawks badly injured two opposing receivers. For the second week in a row, they got away with nasty hits to the helmet, which seems crazy given the league’s emphasis on throwing flags in those situations and the Seahawks habit of getting borderline calls to go against them in the past couple seasons. Far be it for me to complain about the Seahawks catching some breaks (and this week they also caught a bunch of terrible calls that didn’t really matter), but also yikes, the league has to do a better job protecting receivers.
• Seahawks offensive coordinator and man still trying to figure why indeed the chicken crossed the road, Brian Schottenheimer saw a fatally flawed Raiders offense and dialed up 37 rushes for 155 yards. Which… is fine. It’s fine. The Seahawks did not need to go off in the passing game to win. But also the running attack was just okay, and the Raiders are really bad. A 37/23 rush/pass ratio was okay this week because of the game script, but unlike a Chinese finger trap which always has the same answer (push, Brian, push your fingers together!) winning offensive strategy requires a bit of versatility. With some heavy hitters coming up after the bye (Minnesota, both Los Angeles teams, the Packers) we can’t just count on a bruising rushing attack that is fine to win games. We’re gonna have to let Russ cook.
• And Russ looks ready to cook. Wilson was 17/23 with three touchdowns and a deflected pick (on an admittedly ill-advised pass into traffic). He was only sacked once as the Raiders anemic pass rush was no match for the Seahawks league average offensive line. David Moore showed up in a big way, to provide a third receiving threat behind Baldwin and Tyler Lockett that the team had been missing. And with Ed Dickson coming back, the team will have another option at tight end. Please, let Russ cook. Please.
The Seahawks go into the bye at 3-3, and could have been even better. They lost a close one on the road to a bad Denver team, and almost beat a very good Rams team. Even though the schedule looks hard going forward, there’s enough flotsam coming up to picture the Seahawks making a playoff run. Which is pretty cool given the low expectations for the team coming into the season. And even if they don’t? They are fun again. Which is what really matters.