Maybe the temptation will be to put an asterisk by the Seahawks’ 31-7 win Sunday over Jacksonville.
The Jags, to be sure, looked more like the team that had lost 20 in a row rather than the one that beat Miami two weeks ago to snap that skid of infamy.
And you’d never have known the Jags were coming off their bye week with all the sloppy plays and penalties.
But wins are wins in the NFL, and everybody else in the NFC West will get (or already has gotten) their shot at the Jags this year.
And the Seahawks not only got the win but did so in the kind of fashion that made something of a statement about who they can still be this year, doing so even without Russell Wilson. Onto the mostly glittering grades.
Going against one of the worst pass defenses in the NFL compelled the Seahawks to throw the ball a lot more than they did Monday when they went against one of the best pass defenses in the NFL in windy and rainy conditions. Funny how that works. Smith completed his first 14 passes and finished 20-for-24 for 195 yards and two TDs while also sneaking for another TD. And for the second straight game, he did not have a turnover. He has yet to throw an interception in his three starts, having completed 65 of 95 passes overall this year with a 5-to-1 TD-to-INT ratio (his only interception since taking over is the late one against the Rams).
The overall numbers don’t look like much — 69 yards on 25 carries.
But the running game was effective early as Alex Collins had 25 yards on five carries in the first quarter with long runs of 12 and 9 yards on two of his first three attempts. And if you believe that some good runs can open up the passing game, it sure seemed to against the Jags. However, you’d have liked to see Rashaad Penny have more success than the 7 yards on seven carries he had Sunday. Seattle will need more out of Penny going forward as it’s unclear when or if Chris Carson will return.
The answer of how to get the ball more to Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf was to go against a secondary that doesn’t include Marshon Lattimore and Marcus Williams. Going against a far less fearsome Jags secondary, the Seahawks got Lockett and Metcalf going from the start, and they combined for 18 receptions on 19 targets for 185 yards and two TDs, with Lockett getting 12 receptions for 142 yards and Metcalf six for 43 and two TDs.
Being able to get the ball to the receivers at will meant not a lot of targets for the tight ends — Gerald Everett got the only two, catching one for 7 yards. But they’d have probably been wide open if needed.
The Seahawks made one significant change on the offensive line with Ethan Pocic taking over the starting center spot from Kyle Fuller. And he might keep it as Pocic played the entire game as the Seahawks looked as clean on offense they have all season. One reason for making the change was to clear up some communication issues, and Seattle’s offense seemed to run much smoother in that regard Sunday. Seattle also got Damien Lewis back at left guard, and going with what appears to be their best line paid dividends throughout. Smith was sacked three times but was otherwise never hit, and at least one appeared to be his fault for not seeing a blitz in time.
And yes, you’d have liked to see the line dominate on that first series at the goal line instead of needing four plays to punch it in.
But the best news is that the line appeared to get out of the game healthy and now has the bye week to get healthier before the homestretch.
The Seahawks again started their “big” defensive line featuring tackles Al Woods, Bryan Mone and Poona Ford along with end Rasheem Green. Seattle undoubtedly wanted to contain the running of second-year running back James Robinson, who was averaging 5.5 yards per carry coming in. Robinson averaged exactly that — 22 yards on four carries — before suffering an ankle injury that sidelined him the final three quarters. Without Robinson, the Jags had no real running threat to speak of as former Seahawk Carlos Hyde had 32 yards on nine carries and the Jags 82 on 19 overall.
The Seahawks pass rush was a little inconsistent early but usually seemed there when the Seahawks needed it as they had seven QB hits. And the best news might have been the return of Darrell Taylor after his scary injury at Pittsburgh. Taylor had two QB hits.
Bobby Wagner had a game-high 14 tackles and Jordyn Brooks 8 as the Seahawks did a nice job of not letting big gains turn into bigger ones — always a prime job of the linebackers.
The Jags didn’t have a gain on the ground of longer than 14 and averaged just 4.2 per play on offense, lowest against Seattle this year and continuing a nice trend. Seattle held the Steelers to 4.9 and the Saints to 4.5 after allowing 6.2 or more to the previous four foes.
Rookie Tre Brown got his first start at left cornerback. And like Pocic, he might hold onto that job after helping the Seahawks limit the Jags to seven points.
But the defensive star was safety Quandre Diggs. In the first quarter, he had perfect coverage on a deep route that the Jags obviously hoped would turn into a big play, compelling Lawrence to dump off the ball.
And in the second quarter when Lawrence did try to take a shot deep to Tavon Austin, Diggs stepped in front of it for an interception that helped turn the game Seattle’s way.
With Marquise Blair out for the year, Ugo Amadi got all the snaps at nickel.
And Seattle again used its dime package with Ryan Neal as a sixth defensive back on most third downs.
Jamal Adams didn’t appear to blitz much, but it was also hardly needed.
And in news to watch, D.J. Reed left the game with a groin injury late with Sidney Jones filling in.
Special teams weren’t a big obvious factor in this one overall. Well, not until the very end when Travis Homer had a Johnny-on-the-spot scoop of the Jags’ onside kick to return it 44 yards for a touchdown. And the coverage units remained solid while Jason Myers, who missed two field goals Monday, hit his only attempt of 31 yards in the second quarter.