Seahawks return to their stellar defensive ways to beat Jets
The Seahawks took a step backward Sunday. That wasn’t entirely a bad thing, though.
Their defense reverted to its September form: stifling, unyielding and a little angry in Seattle’s 28-7 victory over the New York Jets at CenturyLink Field.
“We just went back to the fundamentals,” defensive tackle Red Bryant said. “Playing physical and being mean, bottom line.
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“And that’s how we played today.”
That’s how they played all day, actually. Because while Seattle’s offense was inconsistent, alternating between stellar and stagnant, it was the defense whose signature sealed this game.
The Jets offense didn’t score a touchdown. They didn’t even get close for most of the game, driving the ball inside Seattle’s 40-yard line only once.
That drive ended when cornerback Richard Sherman intercepted Mark Sanchez in the second quarter, one of two turnovers Sherman forced.
The Jets gained 185 yards on offense, fewest by a Seattle opponent this season, and their only points resulted from a fumble by Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson that was fielded on one hop by Jets tackle Muhammad Wilkerson and returned for a touchdown.
Seattle’s offense had its moments, but they were interrupted by long stretches of ineptitude in the second and third quarters.
Marshawn Lynch surpassed 100 yards rushing for the fourth successive game, matching a franchise record, Sidney Rice had two touchdown catches and Golden Tate put on an individual skills clinic with a 38-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter, a 23-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter and one incredible hurdle on a screen pass.
This victory belonged to Seattle’s defense, though, a unit that had been questioned in recent weeks and responded with a knee-knocker of a performance against a Jets team that crossed midfield only twice in the second half and finished with the second-lowest yardage output of its season.
It was the third time this season Seattle did not allow an offensive touchdown.
“A testament to the entire defense,” Sherman said.
It was impressive, from the front four, which included Brandon Mebane making six tackles — remarkable for a defensive tackle — to rookie Bruce Irvin recording two sacks to Mike Morgan stepping in for K.J. Wright at strongside linebacker. Wright was out because of a concussion, and Morgan did his best to make sure no one noticed Seattle was missing one of its best defenders.
“Michael Morgan fit in,” coach Pete Carroll said, “Playing without K.J. is a big deal for us. I think that was a big statement, and we did take a step forward this week.”
So much for the defensive erosion that had been the story line for Seattle these past three weeks.
The Seahawks didn’t allow an opposing team to rush for more than 100 yards in any of its first six games.
It allowed two players to surpass that mark in the span of 18 days as San Francisco’s Frank Gore and Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson both hit triple digits not to mention the fourth-quarter lead it lost in Detroit.
“We felt like teams were kind of stretching us,” Bryant said.
But against the Jets, the Seahawks defense snapped back. They didn’t give up a run longer than 9 yards, going back to the basics both in terms of formation and effectiveness.
When Seattle’s offense went five drives without scoring in the first half, it was the Seahawks defense that kept the Jets from taking the lead. And in a scoreless third quarter, it was Seattle’s defense that kept the Jets from ever mounting a threat.
“We hung together,” Carroll said, “and kind of kept punching at it.”
The result was a knockout.
Danny O’Neil: 206-464-2364 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @dannyoneil.