Folks, the Seahawks were bad for the bulk of the first half of Thursday’s impressive 27-24 comeback win over the Green Bay Packers. Falling behind 14-3? Real bad. Real, real bad. Russell Wilson missing open receivers? Bad. Running back Chris Carson fumbling the ball on the first play of the game? Bad. The defense letting Aaron Rodgers and some dude named Robert Tonyan rip them apart? Very, very bad. It felt like they should have been down dozens if not hundreds of points by halftime.
And yet here we are, on Friday, looking at a Seahawks team coming off their biggest win of the year. Instead of losing by hundreds? The Seahawks came back and beat the hell out of a pretty good Packers team. They now sit at 5-5, and what was looking like a rebuilding year is now potentially a playoff season. Let’s break it down:
• The Seahawks are lucky that Mike McCarthy is one of the worst in-game head coaches in NFL history. His historic unwillingness to put away a Seahawks team when they’re down is why the Seahawks made their third Super Bowl (which we’ll never speak of again). And tonight, his conservatism again cost the Packers the game. Rather than break down every aspect of why McCarthy sucks, I’ll say that there are 4-5 times a game when the Seahawks play the Packers, where McCarthy will make a choice, and I, a fan of the opposing team, say out loud, “well thank god they did that.” That’s not good coaching! Compare that to Bill Belichick or Sean McVay, who constantly make decisions that terrify me to my core. Aaron Rodgers deserves better.
• Well… kinda. While Rodgers hit on some huge plays on Thursday, he missed some absolute gimmes, including one on 3rd and 2 that led to the Seahawks' game-ending drive. Rodgers is terrifying, and his erratic play this year may just be due to an injury he’s been carrying. That said, I fear his prime had been lost to the McCarthy era, and henceforth he will be a diminished player.
• Time to talk about the most heated battle of the night: Michael Dickson and J.K. Scott, the two top punters taken in this year’s draft. Dickson took an early lead with some massive punts. However, he gave things away by shanking one out of bounds, his worst punt in weeks. Meanwhile, Scott dropped an absolute beauty on the 3 yard line. It looked like Scott had seized the advantage for good. However, on the last punt of the game, Scott failed to pin the Seahawks deep, and booted a punt straight through the back of the end zone. It was not the knockout I was expecting, but Dickson wins a split decision in the battle of elite rookie punters.
• Doug Baldwin caught his first touchdown in forever, and could have easily had two more. Seeing Doug near peak powers is invigorating. His route-running is unparalleled, and a banged up Packers secondary had no chance against him in the second half.
• Russell Wilson missing Baldwin in the first half for an easy touchdown was the lowest light in a game that looked like it would be full of low lights. Sacks and inaccuracy at CenturyLink happen from time to time for Wilson, and Thursday would have been an awful time for him to have another middling performance at home. However, as he always seems to do against Green Bay, Wilson came on late and dominated the game. Particularly impressive was an 8 yard run to help seal the game late; it was nice to see a run designed for Wilson, and it was nice to see him healthy enough to pull it off.
• The Seahawks have three good running backs and a functional offensive line. After the last two years the situation is just weird. The team can call anything in short yardage situations, which is leading to massively improved red zone efficiency. Seeing the ghost of Jimmy Graham suiting up for the Packers was a reminder of how things used to be. Sure, the skill position talent was better, but the overall red zone execution was so much worse. Am I… complementing Brian Schottenheimer again? What is wrong with me?
Rashaad Penny continued to look frisky running the ball for the Seahawks. He hurt himself a little on what was a near-Beast Mode caliber run in the first half, but fought through the injury to continue to contribute as the game went on. Toughness and elusiveness are great things to have in a running back. That draft pick remain indefensible (TRADE BACK NEXT TIME, JOHN SCHNEIDER), but I am so happy that he looks great.
• The defense was a catastrophe in the first 20 minutes of Thursday’s game, and Earl Thomas was sorely missed throughout the game. However, Bobby Wagner is insanely good, and the Seahawks defensive line is evolving into a solid unit. After Aaron Jones ran wild early, he was held to 11 second-half rushing yards. And the pass rush got home, sacking Rodgers five times. Rasheem Green got his first sack for the Seahawks and Frank Clark is now up to 10 sacks on the season. Pete Carroll was loathe to complement his secondary in the post game press conference, but some of those sacks were coverage sacks. So credit where credit is due.
I am ready for the Seahawks to have an easy game… too bad they have to travel to Carolina next week to play a very good Panthers team. For real, this year’s schedule is an absolute bear. That said, if the Seahawks win this one? With three games left against the Cardinals and 49ers? Look out. Look. Out.