It symbolized everything Pete Carroll wanted his defense to stand for — toughness, relentlessness and, most important, the importance of defending every last inch.
Here are three thoughts from the Seahawks’ 6-6 tie against Arizona on Sunday:
1. The Seahawks defended to the final inch, and it paid off — for a tie.
There were two huge defensive plays on the Cardinals’ final drive. First, after Richard Sherman got beat to give up a long pass play, safety Kelcie McCray chased down Arizona receiver J.J. Nelson and tripped him up before he could score.
Second, a couple plays later, safety Earl Thomas came flying across the field and shoved Arizona running back David Johnson out of bounds just before he reached the end zone (Although it looked like maybe Johnson was in on replay). And after that play, Arizona kicker Chandler Catanzaro missed a chip-shot field goal to keep the game tied at 6-6.
And you know what I thought about right then? I thought about a play from a blowout against the Rams two years ago.
Thomas came flying across the field in the fourth quarter and forced a fumble right at the goal line to keep the Rams from scoring. The Seahawks were going to win the game regardless, but coach Pete Carroll called it “the play of the day.” He raved about it, and so did Thomas’ teammates afterward.
It symbolized everything Carroll wanted his defense to stand for — toughness, relentlessness and, most important, the importance of defending every last inch.
Carroll doesn’t just talk about that stuff; he has gotten his players to believe in it.
It looked like those two defensive plays were going to win the Seahawks the game, but kicker Stephen Hauschka missed his own chip-shot field goal, and the game ended in a tie.
2. The defense was superb.
I know I’m a writer and all, but I’m struggling to find enough words to describe how well the Seahawks’ defense played.
They didn’t allow a touchdown, but this was one of those performances that you had to watch to really appreciate.
The Seahawks’ defense was on the field forever, and it had its backs against the wall a couple times, and every time answered the call. It was like watching a Rocky movie.
The Seahawks blocked a field goal with an amazing play from linebacker Bobby Wagner.
They stuffed Arizona on fourth-and-short deep in Seattle’s territory.
They forced the Cardinals to punt in the final two minutes.
There have been plenty of great performances by this defense, and maybe I’m caught up in the moment, but that was as impressive as any game in the past four seasons.
3. The offense really struggled.
The Seahawks couldn’t run the ball. They couldn’t keep Arizona from getting to quarterback Russell Wilson. They didn’t cross midfield in regulation, except for a drive that started in Arizona territory.
They couldn’t do much of anything, really.
The Cardinals entered the night with an aggressive and productive defense (ranked sixth in points allowed), but that’s still not a good reason for how unproductive the Seahawks were.
The Seahawks just can’t run the ball this season. They averaged 2.4 yards a carry in regulation against Arizona. Carroll says it’s because they aren’t getting enough opportunities. But they haven’t been productive with their chances, and we’re six games into the season. That’s a pretty large sample size.
The offensive line has probably been better than expected this season, but that group really struggled against the Cardinals. NBC analyst Cris Collinsworth kept pointing out how much the Seahawks’ offensive tackles were struggling on the edge, and it was clear the Seahawks just didn’t have much of an answer.
The Seahawks had 257 yards of total offense. They converted on just one third down in regulation.
They played better in overtime, but it was a struggle all night.