The Seattle Seahawks looked familiar Thursday night. The recent string of losses proved to be an anomaly after a 28-21 win versus the Arizona Cardinals. The primetime matchup continued to show us what we’ve seen from the Seahawks as of late: bizarre mishaps, questionable play-calling, and errant referring. Something else happened that night as well. It was as close as the Seahawks have been to a vintage-style performance.
Quarterback Russell Wilson has always done his best under the bright lights, in the fourth quarter, and with the game on the line. He was playing back at home (which doesn’t mean that much in 2020 but still allows for more comfortability), in the newly-renamed Lumen Field and for sole possession of the NFC West. Surely, we’d get a peak primetime Wilson performance, and we did. He was 23-of-28 passing for 197 yards, two touchdowns, and no turnovers (a welcome stat).
It was a performance expected of Wilson, which is why it was so frustrating to watch the three losses within the prior four games; as we so well know, we don’t always get what we expect. It would be safe to assume many people didn’t know which Seattle team they could expect Thursday night. The previous run-first offense and impenetrable defense has morphed and taken new shape with a changed roster and what was a changed philosophy. This game, however, abandoned all calls to “Let Russ Cook” and reverted back to a tried-and-true game plan. It didn’t require any late-game heroics. Instead, it called for Wilson to be, well, Wilson (check), an established run game (check), and some big defensive stops for the worst unit in the league (check.)
The Seahawks, who sit alone at the top of the division with a 7-3 record, have a chance to go 4-0 in their next stretch of games. The defense built off of the second-half momentum from Week 9’s loss to the Los Angeles Rams and had a couple more big plays at the end of Thursday’s game to help seal a bounce-back win. A vintage Seahawks performance is more than just a surging defense. They returned to what had brought them so much success: establishing the run.
Fear not! I know how anxiety-inducing that statement can be, but it worked and it worked very well. The Seahawks had their most balanced game yet. They finished with 31 rushing attempts to 28 passing with 165 rushing yards to 182 passing. Seattle outrushed the second-best rushing offense 165-57; it was vintage.
“It felt like the Seahawks, you know—it felt like the Seahawks we’ve all seen over the years,” head coach Pete Carroll said after the game. “Carlos [Hyde] did a great job tonight. He did exactly what we needed. We needed him to run hard and run tough and knock people backwards and make extra yards with his juice.”
Hyde’s presence made a noticeable difference after missing the past two games with a hamstring injury. His 79 yards became the second-most by a Seahawks running back this year with their rushing total also being the second-most this season. Seattle was able to better control the clock; it had its highest possession time (35 minutes, 7 seconds) of the year.
“It balanced us out, just like we talked about,” Carroll said. “Russ didn’t have to throw for 400 yards to have a big night. He had a big night tonight [throwing] for just under 200.”
Wilson was calm, really cool, and mostly collected and the run game helped. Hyde’s return and the looming return of starting running back Chris Carson, who is nursing a leg injury, will increasingly open up Seattle’s offense, allowing Wilson to continue to thrive and not press. With games against the Philadelphia Eagles, New York Giants, New York Jets, and Washington Football Team—all of whom have allowed an average of 100-plus rushing yards entering Week 11—the Seahawks will be able to continue their recommitment to the run.
Seattle will now enjoy a mini-bye week, a few extra days off before it prepares for its next stretch beginning in Philadelphia in Week 12. What brand of Seahawks football will we get then? It should look a lot like this.