BY Art Thiel 02:22AM 11/20/2020

Thiel: Short-week heroes abound for Seahawks

Four days after many things went wrong in LA, many things went right for the Seahawks in beating Arizona 28-21. They even got away with starting rookie Damien Lewis at center.

FS Quandre Diggs and DE Carlos Dunlap agree that DE L.J. Collier helped create a fourth-quarter safety. / Corky Trewin, Seattle Seahawks

Three losses in four games for a team with high expectations is a great way to turn the innards of fans into knots worthy of a sailor’s handbook. Thursday night, the Seahawks untied every one of them.

The 28-21 win over Arizona (box) was perhaps more an organizational triumph than any regular-season game in the Pete Carroll/John Schneider regime:

• The inexpensive mid-season addition of DE Carlos Dunlap, and to a lesser extent, CB D.J. Reed, appeared to be master personnel strokes by GM Schneider;

• The emergency decision to move rookie Damien Lewis from right guard to cover for injuries at center, a position he never played in the NFL or college, was an audacious coaching move, perilous and ultimately successful;

• The mental re-set of Russell Wilson, while mostly of his own doing, was abetted by a game plan that emphasized run-pass balance and risk reduction, to relieve pressure;

• The defense, maligned as the worst in the Judeo-Christian tradition including the Old Testament, in consecutive weeks held high-powered division rivals to 23 and 21 points, and confined the Cardinals’ No. 1 offense to 314 yards.

All on a short week, while remaining the only NFL franchise without a Covid-19 positive test.

As a result, the Seahawks are 7-3, and momentarily leading the NFL’s toughest division. In the afterglow, the vibe was similar to the days of yore at old CenturyLink Field, before they became Lumenators.

“It felt like the Seahawks that we have all seen over the years,” said coach Pete Carroll, who in the previous two weeks, both road losses, said he didn’t recognize how his team was playing. “Just a really good night of football. Even with all the guys in and out and the lineup and all that, it just didn’t matter tonight. The guys played really well across the board.

“If this works out right, we could be really healthy going down the stretch here.”

His hyperbole was so bodacious, it even caused him to pause.

“Is that the epitome of optimism?” he said, grinning. “We’re leading the league in injuries and I’m telling you how strong we’re going to be down the stretch.”

Well, the 49ers and a few other teams would like a word with Carroll about that claim. Nevertheless, the successful deployment of auxiliary forces to thwart the rival, who beat the Seahawks in Arizona 37-34 in overtime Oct. 25, was a feat that seemed to be a stretch after the 23-16 loss in Los Angeles to the Rams just four days earlier.

None among the interview subjects on Zoom was more ebullient than Dunlap, acquired via trade from NFL purgatory in Cincinnati three weeks ago. He delivered the decisive blow, chasing down QB Kyler Murray for a sack on fourth-and-10 at the Seahawks 27-yard line with 33 second left, ending the Cardinals’ shot at a game-tying, or game-winning, score (if they chose to go for two).

The NFL world a week earlier gasped when Murray vanquished Buffalo with what became known as the “Hail Murray” pass in the end zone to star wideout DeAndre Hopkins.

Not this time.

“This is what they brought me here for,” Dunlap said, beaming. “I’m just happy I could deliver. You know, (Carroll) was fired up. He almost tackled me on the sideline. That was crazy to see a head coach that involved.”

Welcome to our world, Carlos. He’s knocked down everybody around here a few times.

Regarding the bigger picture, Dunlap was effusive in his compliments about the Seahawks, particularly how all navigated the perils after the 5-0 start against lesser foes.

“It’s just contagious,” he said. “The culture from upstairs, to the city, to the valet in the hotel I was staying at when they first put me here. How in tune everyone is, how positive everyone is. Consistently. Even with those two losses back-to-back.

“Everyone was consistently positive; no one was second-guessing anything. Everybody was honest with themselves, willing to work. Acknowledged what we needed to do better, and we worked at it. It’s just all the layers of the culture here, it’s just positive. Believe in it.

The (player) leaders. They speak it, they follow up, they’re out there on the front lines, doing it with you. They lead the way. I’m just trying to find my place.”

It’s a theme familiar to longtime followers, and always amusing to see the newbies act like Labrador puppies.

The Seahawks’ other Carlos, Hyde, had a distinguished return from the heaping pile of casualties. He powered for 79 yards in 14 carries, caught two passes for 16 more, and helped restore the offensive balance missing since he and Chris Carson were injured in the first Cardinals game.  The Seahawks rushed 31 times and passed 28 because Hyde is the kind of power back that Carroll trusts for hard yards.

Hyde was so confident that he imagined himself at the post-game podium.

“I just envisioned myself having a good game, playing a clean game,” he said.”Not trying to do anything out of the ordinary. Just run the ball, protect Russ, and catch the ball well.

“I had a feeling that I would be talking after the game, and look where I’m at.”

Also on the podium, as usual, was Wilson. Quite apart from his solemn demeanor Sunday in LA after three turnovers brought his total to 10 the three losses, he was glowing after having made none.

He was 23 for 28 for a tidy 197 yards and two touchdowns for a 119.8 passer rating. No completion was longer than the 25-yarder to DK Metcalf for a touchdown on the opening drive. He was sacked three times and ran 10 times for 42 yards, generally enjoying the benefits of the return of the running game that injuries took away in Arizona.

“I think the win goes to the preparation column, because I think that we did an unbelievable job of getting prepared for them,” he said. “We made it challenging for their defense. They’re a great defense with all these different pressures,  so much
versatility. We really did a good job of protecting it and blocking it up.”

That the protection held up was remarkable, since besides the shift for Lewis, lightly used Jamarco Jones took over in Lewis’s spot at right guard. Then when RT Brandon Shell went out with a sprained ankle, Cedric Ogbuehi stepped in. Yet the Seahawks rushed for 165 yards.

Although Lewis had two holding calls and a low snap that produced a fumble Seattle recovered, he was Wilson’s hero.

“He did a tremendous job stepping in there all week, especially on short week,” he said. “I thought he was super confident. He adjusted throughout the game. He made great calls. We were on the same page. I thought that to be a rookie, to be such a great guard, and
then have to move to center, not knowing what’s going to happen, I thought he did a tremendous job.”

Carroll might have tackled Lewis too, but there were too many backs to pat first.

 

 


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YourThoughts

  • Jonathan M Perez

    Easily the strongest win of the season. I thought this was the first game all season where the offense and the defense played complimentary football. Nice long drives where Russell Wilson took what was given to him and didn’t always opt for the bombs. Kept the chains moving and sustained long drives, which I would like to see more of. Carlos Hyde a huge help there. It allowed the defense to remain fresh instead of playing the whole game on their heels. Statement victory.

    • art thiel

      Carson will be ready for the Philly game, as will Pocic, so expect the intent to do more of same. The play script Thursday was well thought out and minimized risk. Imagine how the game would have looked had Metcalf’s long reception not been called back, and had he handled Wilson’s fastball in the end zone.

      • Stephen Pitell

        and he hadn’t dropped that crossing route pass. I couldn’t see the entire field, but he might have gone a long ways.

  • Lodowick

    Lumenators! Love it. As far as the game goes, as Darth Vader once said – “impressive”. I was frankly surprised how well both offense and defense played but the coaching and quarterbacking was simply superb. Arizona’s defense is 18th in the league so…but still, the blitzing they put into play did not work so well after the first quarter. The Hawks offensive line, which can run block pretty well, managed to stand up to them. But given the injuries, the prior loss to the Cardinals and the short week, I have to say the coaching was terrific.

    • art thiel

      Carroll may be as proud of this game as any in his tenure.

  • Obi-jonKenobi

    One of my highlights was seeing Cardinal cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick get flagged for taunting after the Cardinals had stopped the Seahawks on a 3rd down play keeping a drive alive that resulted in a key touchdown for the Seahawks a few plays later. Kirkpatrick stood out to me in the first meeting this year between the Cardinals and Hawks for his borderline dirty play and I recall praying he’d get some payback.

    The incident in last night’s game came after Tyler Lockett took a particularly nasty hit by two tacklers after a reception. Kirkpatrick wasn’t one of the tacklers but was on top of the play and appeared to stand over Lockett and say something as Lockett was struggling to get up. That triggered Metcalf who was close by who then got in Kirkpatrick’s face which set off Kirkpatrick and it then took teammates and refs to keep them apart. I was glad to see the refs get it right and to see it hurt the Cardinals badly.

    Payback delivered!

    • art thiel

      Metcalf is a very protective teammate, and a relentless trash talker, so expect to see more episodes like this. They may not work as well.

      • Obi-jonKenobi

        Yep, I’ve noticed that, too. He plays with an attitude.

        And I was surprised that Kirkpatrick got flagged and not Metcalf because it was Metcalf that initiated what almost turned into a brawl. But when I watched it again, I noticed Kirkpatrick standing over Lockett and lucky for Metcalf, the ref had, too.

  • Warchild_70

    Finally a game I watched start to finish every body chipped in and was off to the races. Great to see a rookie center do what a pro center can do. No need to uncork the wine yet we still have to finish the rest of the festivity’s then the Hawks can say it was the toughest year and we overcame. Lumenators, eh? Not bad Art hopefully we’ll light up all comers for the rest of the season!!

    • art thiel

      This year’s Super Bowl winner, presuming there is one, should be a little extra proud.

      • Husky73

        The same for the Lightning, Dodgers, Storm and Lakers?

  • Husky73

    Great writing from top to bottom. Another A+.

  • jafabian

    It was great to watch a game and not be on the edge of my seat the entire time. Good game by Collier and the RB’s as well as Dunbar who had at times a Clowney-Like presence on the field. The schedule favors the Hawks from here on out barring any injuries.

    • art thiel

      C’mon. You enjoy being on the edge of your seat. It’s part of why you keep coming back. It’s memorable.

  • Chris Alexander

    For the first time all season, I wasn’t worried when the Cardinals got the ball, down 7, with 2:19 to play. Had I just turned on the game at that point, I’d have been extremely anxious. But having watched the whole game, I knew, just KNEW, that the defense was up to the task.

    One overlooked aspect of this game is the Seahawks final offensive possession. After the safety pushed the lead to 4, Seattle got the ball on their own 40 yard line with 9:12 to play. They then “marched” 37 yards over the course of 12 plays while sucking six minutes and fifty-three seconds off the game clock. While a touchdown (and/or one more first down) would have been preferable to a field goal there, the mere fact that Seattle held the ball for nearly 7 minutes in that situation is AWESOME !! Even if we all could have lived with the “requisite drama” from the fumble near the end of that drive.

    On a side note, that drive featured 6 runs and 5 passes (with Wilson going 4 of 5 for 29 yards on those passes). The runs gained 19 yards but then lost 8 of those when the pitch play to Hyde on the AZ 12 resulted in a fumble that Seattle recovered on the 23.

    Also, I was scared, scared, SCARED when I learned (from Art) that Damien Lewis was getting the start at Center. And the first offensive play ramped up that fear by a magnitude of 7. And then . . . dude played a SOLID game. WoW!! Soooooo impressed.

    • Archangelo Spumoni

      Mr. Alexander
      Well stated, and I was also MORE than simply apprehensive about Mr. Lewis moving over to center. There were errors of course, (!?!) but considering the risk involved, he gets a game ball and the coaching staff obviously knew something about his versatility.
      Mr. Scarbrough also gets kudos for spelling Mr. Hyde quite well.

      All things considered, a perfect way to enter the mini-bye and get healthy. Now comes the easiest remaining schedule in the league.

      • art thiel

        The Lewis move was bold, and the kid executed. Definitely raised his stature in the locker room.

    • art thiel

      Without either Hyde or Carson, the drive you described couldn’t have happened. Big part of three losses in four games. Part of the drive’s success was due to Wilson’s comfort level in trusting the run game to get to more 3rd and 2 situations than 3rd and 7. Stress level was way down.