Seattle Times staff reporter Bob Condotta grades the Seahawks’ performance in their 13-10 victory over the Detroit Lions on Monday night at CenturyLink Field.
Kam Chancellor’s punch knocked out Detroit and allowed the Seahawks to exhale.
The entirety of the Seahawks’ 13-10 win over the Lions on Monday night at CenturyLink Field, though, revealed that they can far from breathe easy as they head to a game Sunday against undefeated Cincinnati.
Playing in the first game of his career without running back Marshawn Lynch, quarterback Russell Wilson was sacked six times as the Seattle offense had trouble moving consistently, mostly relying on some wizardry from Wilson to create a few big plays.
The win enhances the grades. But work remains for the Seahawks.
LIONS AT SEAHAWKS »
The running game was spotty without Lynch, with replacement Thomas Rawls held to 48 yards on 17 carries, just 9 yards on eight carries in the first half.
And the offensive line never had a handle on Detroit’s rush, forcing Wilson to scramble for dear life much of the night.
Wilson survived phenomenally early — he completed 8 of 10 passes for 141 yards and a touchdown with a passer rating of 152.1, not far off a perfect rating of 158.3 in the first half.
And until the Chancellor forced fumble, the play that figured to define this game came when Wilson pivoted from a sack attempt by Detroit’s Jason Jones on third down to hit Jermaine Kearse for 34 yards early in the second quarter.
He then rifled a pass to Doug Baldwin for a 24-yard touchdown on the next play — Seattle’s first offensive touchdown in the first half this season.
Wilson also seemed more determined than any game this season in running, leading the team with 25 yards on five carries in the first half, though almost all were scrambles.
The second half was a struggle, though, as Wilson lost two fumbles and was again sacked three times.
Wilson took blame for both fumbles. But the offensive line has to bear the brunt of the overall frustration with the offense. It’s a remade group with new starters at three spots — and players in essentially their first year at center (Drew Nowak) and right tackle (Garry Gilliam).
There have been signs of improvement the first three weeks. But Monday night was mostly a step back in every way. A particular issue on Monday night were the snaps of Nowak, more than a few off-target several helping to throw off the timing of plays.
Jimmy Graham had just one catch for 6 yards on two targets through the first three quarters. But he finished with four for 29, which might be enough to stave off talk about how the team used him for another week.
Kearse made maybe the two biggest catches of the night — the catch that set up the touchdown and then the 50-yarder on third down on Seattle’s final series to end the game for good.
The defense saved everything with the Chancellor forced fumble of Calvin Johnson.
And until the final drive, the Seattle defense had simply saved the day, allowing only one of Detroit’s first nine drives to go for longer than 21 yards, with eight ending in a punt.
The Lions, though, hit the Seahawks with a couple of new plays on the final drive to move 90 yards before Chancellor’s punch de resistance.
Until the final play, it was middle linebacker Bobby Wagner who might have been the defensive player of the game leading the team with eight tackles — Chancellor was next with seven.
The defensive line helped hold the running game in check and got enough pressure on Matt Stafford.
And the Seattle secondary had little real issue with Johnson and Golden Tate until the end.
The Lions tried several times to hit Johnson deep in man situations on Cary Williams but Williams held his own and Johnson was sort of a non-factor until the final drive when he made three of his seven catches.
Former Seahawk Tate was also pretty invisible most of the night, often matched up against Richard Sherman.
Tate didn’t make an impact in the game until catching a 22-yarder against what appeared to be a zone in the fourth quarter to get Detroit out of a hole.
Rookie sensation Tyler Lockett made the first real mistake of his career when he let a punt bounce off his body in the third quarter, with the Lions recovering at the Seattle 46.
Steven Hauschka hit field goals of 51 and 52 yards and has made all 10 of his attempts this season.
And Jon Ryan blasted a huge punt when it was most needed, booting a 70-yarder that forced Detroit to start at its own 9 with 6:23 left, down 13-10, setting up the frantic ending.