Seattle got improved play from its quarterback, running backs and offensive line in a 24-13 win over the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday. And this despite a makeshift offensive line grouping that was without injured starters Justin Britt and Ethan Pocic.
The Seahawks are a team of “Why Not Us?” and “We All We Got, We All We Need,” and an endless array of examples of guys beating the odds.
But had they lost Sunday, the odds might simply have been too great to consider anything other than that the 2018 season already was heading nowhere. Only five teams since 1980 had started 0-3 and made the playoffs, none since 1998.
So Seattle basically had no choice but to win Sunday to keep hope realistically alive. And that they did with a 24-13 victory over Dallas that as coach Pete Carroll and multiple players said later was just as importantly a step toward the team re-establishing its identity.
“That’s how we want to be able to play football,” quarterback Russell Wilson said after a game in which Seattle had 39 rushing attempts — more than any game since running it 44 times against San Francisco on Nov. 22, 2015 — while forcing three turnovers and not committing any.
On to some grades.
This was by far Wilson’s best game of the season as he finished with a 109.8 passer rating that accurately portrayed his efficiency.
He seemed far more assured in his throwing, getting rid of the ball quickly and decisively (witness the remarkable 27-yard pass zoomed down the sideline to Brandon Marshall) and executed a plan that seemed designed to negate Dallas’ pass rush. He also was perfectly on-target on two second-quarter touchdown passes, and for the first time this season didn’t have an interception.
He was particularly good on third downs as the Seahawks converted five in a row during the pivotal second quarter.
Finally, what the Seahawks had been hoping to see, a lot of Chris Carson runs and a rushing attack that looked a little like the old days
It was far from dominant, as the Seahawks managed just 2.9 yards per attempt, but Seattle got a lot of steady, timely gains and, if nothing else, forced the Cowboys’ defense to stay honest to the running game.
Carson finished with 102 yards on a whopping 32 attempts — 12 in the fourth quarter — capping the game with an 11-yard run on third-and-11 on Seattle’s final drive.
So much for being gassed.
One negative? First-round draft choice Rashaad Penny again struggled with just 5 yards on three carries, with his only carry in the second half resulting in a fumble that was credited to Wilson.
This was the best game of the year for Nick Vannett, a third-year tight end who matched his season total with four receptions for 27 yards and helped spark a third-quarter touchdown drive. Will Dissly again shined with his blocking.
Tyler Lockett is holding his own as the Seahawks try to make do in Doug Baldwin’s absence, with four catches for 77 yards and a touchdown. He has three touchdowns for the season, one in each game. But Marshall had some early struggles, with three drops before he corralled the 27-yarder from Wilson that jump-started a third-quarter scoring drive. Jaron Brown had his first touchdown as a Seahawk. But it was a good game for Seattle to win without needing a lot of dynamic plays from its receiving corps.
What seemed like a makeshift group — with Joey Hunt making his second career start at center, J.R Sweezy moving to left guard for injured Ethan Pocic and D.J. Fluker making his first start of his Seahawks career at right guard — played as well as the line has this season.
The Seahawks seemed particularly effective running up the middle and helping Carson, which seemed a credit to the play of the three interior blockers.
Seattle’s tackles also did a nice job mitigating Dallas’ pass rush as Wilson was sacked just twice for 10 yards. He was sacked 12 times in the Seahawks’ first two games combined.
The best game of the season for Frank Clark, who had one sack and helped force another with a quick rush that allowed Mychal Kendricks a clean-up sack. Clark now has three sacks in three games.
Jarran Reed also had two sacks, continuing what has been an underrated start to his season. Quinton Jefferson had four quarterback hits.
Bobby Wagner returned and he made it his personal mission early to keep Ezekiel Elliott in check, finishing with a team-high-tying seven tackles. Elliott finished with 127 yards, but the Seahawks controlled the game up front from start to finish. Kendricks continues to be a pleasant surprise and had six tackles, two quarterback hits and a sack — his second of the season — while Barkevious Mingo also had his first sack as a Seahawk.
Statistically, this was a game that lived up to the Legion of Boom’s reputation. Dallas was held to 137 yards passing and quarterback Dak Prescott had a passer rating of just 54.5.
Earl Thomas started things off with a shoe-tip interception of a pass that was tipped by Tre Flowers in the first quarter, and he capped it with another pick off a tip in the fourth quarter.
Bradley McDougald continued his stellar play with a Kam Chancellor-like strip of Elliott for a fumble in the fourth quarter that Justin Coleman recovered — a fitting second time in the game the secondary teamed up to force a turnover.
Shaquem Griffin and Coleman each had good open-field tackles in the fourth quarter, the latter pinning Dallas back at its own 20 on a drive following a quick Seattle three-and-out right when the game had started to feel a little in doubt.
Sebastian Janikowski had a tidy 47-yard field goal on the last play of the first half to give Seattle an added scoring edge that proved critical down the stretch.
And punter Michael Dickson was steady with a 43.8-yard average and a 41.3-yard net.
Lockett also had an 18-yard punt return that was his longest of the season.
PLAYER OF THE GAME:
Seahawks running back Chris Carson, who finished with a career-high 32 carries, and also notched the first 100-yard performance of his pro career, with 102 rushing yards and a touchdown.