BY Art Thiel 05:54PM 12/15/2013

Thiel: Seahawks in a New York state of mind

Eli Manning and the Giants weren’t ready for the Seahawks defense, which didn’t notice it was missing three starters. And Wilson continues to rescue doomed plays.

Russell Wilson and Eli Manning meet after the game Sunday. Manning has one game left this season at MetLife Stadium. Maybe Wilson too. / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest

SCOREBOARD BABY

Seahawks 23, at New York Giants 0.

TERSE TRUTH

The Little Town Blues team showed up big in the Big Apple.

Billed as a Super Bowl rehearsal for the team with the NFL’s best record, the Seahawks did little to disappoint those anticipating a return to MetLife Stadium in six weeks by delivering the first hometown shutout of the Giants in 18 years.

Impressive as were the five picks and three sacks of QB Eli Manning, the Giants rushed 14 times for 25 yards and a single first down. Granted, the Giants have had injuries, but 25 yards for an NFL team is mortification squared.

Seahawks special teams delivered on all opportunities, and the offense, while shy on third downs (3 for 13), crackled in midfield numerous times to leave the Giants no real hope.

After setting a club record with six road wins, including four in the once-vexing Eastern time zone, the Seahawks established that neither the loss in San Francisco nor the absence of three regulars from the defense made a difference. No word on whether the Seahawks told New York bartenders to keep their tabs open.

FISTS TO SKY

  • Wilson answered the trend toward stacking the line against Marshawn Lynch by throwing six times to the running back for 73 yards. He was Seattle’s leading receiver by yardage, and Wilson was the leading rusher (50 yards, eight carries). Whatever it takes.
  • CB Richard Sherman, whose reputation keeps him from getting much action his way, had two interceptions. More impressive were a pair by CB Byron Maxwell, who, along with big plays from CB Jeremy Lane, suddenly made absent Legion of Bong members Brandon Browner and Walter Thurmond very nervous.
  • Lynch in the first quarter put a stiffarm into the grill of CB Prince Amukamara that nearly had to be removed by a dentist, and Wilson, on a scramble, offered a similar locked elbow to DE Justin Tuck that dropped the big fella to the ground. Pluck beats Tuck.
  • Lynch on a toss sweep scored a touchdown on one of the gnarliest two-yard runs done without a jackhammer. Half the Giants defenders had a hat or a hand on him. Beast beats East.
  • Doug Baldwin’s 11-yard TD reception was a little Beast-like, taking hits from three defenders before diving across the goal line. Doug to the rug. He had six catches for 71 yards, several on crossing routes that take the worst punishment.
  • The win was the 23rd for Wilson, breaking the NFL’s QB record for career victories in the first two seasons. Not only did he beat the mark held by Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger, he did it without bothering drunken female bar patrons.
  • Under-appreciated but always essential: PK Stephen Hauschka and P Jon Ryan. Every game, nearly flawless.

PALMS TO FOREHEADS

  • Seahawks converted on only three of 13 first downs. If Wilson were a baseball pitcher instead of a second baseman, his day would have been described as up in the strike zone. Seahawks also had protection problems in the first half that forced him to throw early several times.
  • The Seahawks had their standard eight penalties. This time the price was 50 yards, and non-fatal. But false starts on offense are the sort that will gash against serious teams.
  • On a red zone scramble in the third quarter, Wilson simply dropped the ball. He recovered the fumble, but was believed to be his first unforced error since he dropped a sippy cup in the family home 23 years ago.
  • Eli Manning. Oh, my. If this game was Seattle’s dress rehearsal for the Super Bowl, it was also Manning’s audition for the lead in the non-action movie, “Zombie Apocalypse.”

CARROLLING

On the win: “To play that well across the board is really saying something at this time of year. Everyone hit, ran hard and played tough.”

On the defense: “To hold them to less than 160 yards against that quarterback and that group of receivers was something. We had good pressure up front and great coverage all game. That was as good a day in covering people as I can remember. It’s as complete a game on defense as we’ve ever had.”

On Wilson’s NFL-record 23rd win in his first two seasons as a QB starter:  “These are marks this guy is going to continue to knock off. It’s really cool that he’s been able to do that, and he still has a couple of games left. He’s so special and such a unique individual. We’re really proud and excited for him.”

CB Byron Maxwell’s play as a starter: “He’s played just great football. They went up top on him, the put double moves on him and he took throws away from Eli. He continues to be right on the mark. It’s a great statement about our depth with corners.”

Getting a shutout: “It doesn’t matter in one regard because it’s a win, but in that locker room, it’s hugely important. It’s rare to do that.”

Winning in New York, where he was head coach with the Jets: “Nothing more fun in the world of sports than to compete here. It’s really cool to play this well here.”

Chasing the division title and homefield advantage: “We put ourselves one step closer. One thing we wanted is to leave no doubt — to not leave (playoff hopes) to someone else. It was a huge game for us, and we prepared like it and played like it.”

A 4-1 record in the Eastern time zone: “The fact that we’ve done that — it’s hard to do historically — is something we’ve talked about (from four years ago). You have to get to a mindset that it doesn’t matter where we play. We’re there now.”

On the Seattle fans in the stadium: “It was a great show for the 12th man. They show up everywhere we go.”

WILSON!

Winning at the site of the Super Bowl: “The biggest thing is we’ll have a great feel for stadium, and we were successful here. You get good vibes, if we get to get to come back. It’s a great place to play.”

Big plays from Doug Baldwin: “The biggest thing is trust your reads and don’t make things up. Doug has done it all season. He makes it tough on defenses. It puts pressure on the defense. They don’t know who to cover.”

The absence of snow after the Saturday dump: “Yesterday it was really coming down. But today was beautiful. I’d like to play in snow, but it doesn’t make a a difference. We brought our intensity and so did the 12th Man. To shut out the Giants  . . . it probably hasn’t happened in 30 or 20  years.”

Throwing to Lynch instead of running the ball: “Marshawn did a great job catching the ball today. I was just throwing it to the open guy.”

THE FINISH

The Seahawks won’t admit it, but the loss to the 49ers was a kick in the chops, particularly for the defense that allowed the drive to the game-winning field goal (remember Atlanta a year ago?) The Giants are nowhere near the 49ers’ caliber, but to shut out a team on its home field, which happens to be in New York, was a massive point of pride. It helped to catch a team the week after it was eliminated from the playoff race.

The defensive line continues to improve its QB harassment, and the growth of Byron Maxwell and Jeremy Lane as starters is remarkable. The offense’s troubles on third down is a shortcoming, but hardly a crisis. The response to defenses’ piling up to stop Lynch found a counter in the passing to him out of the backfield was noteworthy.

A win Sunday at home against a vastly improved Arizona team (9-5 after beating Tennessee 37-34 in overtime) would make a statement about maintaining a competitive edge better than any team in the NFL, earning the Seahawks the home field for the playoffs as well as a bye week.

As for the Giants, if they were to fall any faster from a championship, they would be burn up in the atmosphere.


YourThoughts

  • Diamond Mask

    Great article Art! Thought you had hit pinnacle with “Legion of Bong” but that was until I read “his first unforced error since he dropped a sippy cup.” Really well done.

    Go Hawks!

    • art thiel

      Thanks, DM. Gotta offer something you’re not getting on TV.

  • oldcrimson

    I’m not exactly a sky-is-falling dude, and I think the Hawks will win and get home field throughout, but these last two games are going to be really, really tough. Arizona is playing really well and is still fighting for the playoffs, and the Rams put a whuppin on NO today. I hope the 12 brings it with as much intensity as they have all year.

    • art thiel

      Are you sure you’re not Pete Carroll? Your thoughts are virtually his.

      • oldcrimson

        You mean his are mine? He and I had our weekly media talking point planning session at the VMAC on Sunday night…

  • jafabian

    Both Browner and Thurmond will have little if any leverage in the offseason when they talk contract. The defense rebounded nicely after having a rather (for them) pedestrian effort last week. Maxwell and Lane more than answered the call. The LB’s did well without KJ Wright as well.

    Can’t wait for the playoffs.

    • art thiel

      Browner is done here, Thurmond still has a chance. He’ll be back for St. Louis.

  • Bayview Herb

    A little work on the poetry,Art.

    • osoviejo

      Don’t perturb, Herb.

      • Bayview Herb

        Oso be damned, but Viejo slams

  • http://rip-ragged.com/dross Raymond Meyers

    Another fine piece of prose. I don’t know if you noticed but this game was not mentioned at all during the halftime highlights on NBC. Rather odd, I thought.

    • Bayview Herb

      I noticed that too. apparently even if Seattle wins the Super Bowl it won’t be as newsworthy as those eastern teams

      • art thiel

        As mentioned above, Herb, the Seahawks drained all the drama out of the Giants match.

    • art thiel

      Thanks. Missed the NBC halftime. Had to write. But that is a very short segment that had a lot of league-wide drama to cover. There was little in NYC.

    • http://rip-ragged.com/dross Raymond Meyers

      I also noticed that the Seahawks only won so convincingly because Manning sucked. Everywhere they’re covering how Manning sucked. Weirdly, I think the Seahawks are still going to sneak up on people in the post season. At least those teams that haven’t played them yet will be surprised somewhat if they believe the,talking heads.

  • ll9956

    I agree with oldcrimson. I know I’m a nervous Nellie, but I predict that the Hawks will have their hands full with AZ next Sunday. The Cardinals are much tougher than the Giants and they have plenty of talent with Carson Palmer, Larry Richardson et al. The Hawks need to work on not losing their focus, not becoming overconfident and eliminating penalties. As Art pointed out they committed “their standard eight penalties”, although they were for less yards this time.

    • art thiel

      Focus will not be an issue Sunday with the chance to lock up the div title. They also see the video of Az’s upgrade. This team’s ability to stay sharp is the equal of any team I’ve seen. Credit to Carroll and Wilson.

  • Bryan

    Great article, Art. Enjoyed every word.

    • art thiel

      Thanks.

  • osoviejo

    If this team fails to win the Super Bowl, I think you’ll be able to point the finger directly at the offensive line. Unquestionably the weakest link on this chain. Needs some serious attention this offseason.

    • art thiel

      The Seahawks are acutely aware. Giacomini and Okung aren’t fully healthy, Unger has been beat up, and the guard play is average at best.