They didn’t make it easy on themselves — or those of you watching back home in Seattle — in the second half Sunday in Atlanta, but the Seahawks did improve to 4-0 on the road in 2019, and at 6-2 at midway point in the season they’re feeling good about who they are and where they’re headed.
For now, they’re headed home to play a 2-5 Tampa Bay team that has lost three straight, with old foe Bruce Arians set to make his return to Seattle.
The Seahawks are just 2-2 at CenturyLink Field this season, and by Sunday they’ll hope to have a handle on some of the maddening second-half issues that nearly cost them against the Falcons.
Before diving further into the matchup with Tampa Bay, a final look back at what I predicted and what actually happened in the Seahawks’ 27-20 escape in Atlanta:
MATCHUP TO WATCH
What I said: Seahawks’ offensive line vs. Atlanta’s defensive front
What happened: The Seahawks lost starting center Justin Britt on the sixth snap of the game to a season-ending knee injury. Even so, the line led the way as Chris Carson (86 yards) and Rashaad Penny (42 yards) helped Seattle rush for 130 yards on 20 first-half carries. Russell Wilson was clean in the first half, but as with everything in this game that flipped in the second half. Wilson was sacked twice and hit three times in the second half — against a Falcons defense that hadn’t had a sack in five weeks entering Sunday.
What I could have said: Atlanta’s offensive line vs. Seattle’s defensive front
Jadeveon Clowney (one strip sack and four QB hits) had maybe his best game for the Seahawks, but the defensive line otherwise continues to struggle to put consistent pressure on the QB. As the schedule gets tougher — much tougher — in the second half of the season, that’s one area Pete Carroll and the Seahawks know has to get better.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Who I said: Tyler Lockett
What happened: Lockett reached 100 yards receiving for the second time this season, with six catches on six targets — including two incredible over-the-shoulder grabs, one of which was one-handed.
Who I could have said: Chris Carson
Heading home to Atlanta, Carson was as good as he’s ever been in that first half. Carson is on pace for 318 carries for 1,318 yards and eight touchdowns — plus another 44 catches and four scores.
COACHING DECISION TO WATCH
What I said: How many touches for Rashaad Penny?
What happened: Penny had his first touches in three weeks, finishing with eight carries for 55 yards. In four games this season, he has 30 carries for 153 yards and one TD. The decision to watch now is: What do the Seahawks do with the former first-round pick ahead of Tuesday’s trade deadline?
What I could have said: How passive will the Seahawks be with a big lead?
The second half was strange, for sure. The Seahawks led 24-0 at halftime and then seemed to think the game was over at that point. Players rotated more than usual in the second half, Seattle’s secondary played soft coverage, which allowed Matt Schaub — Atlanta’s 38-year-old backup QB — to finish with 460 yards passing, including 309 in the second half. Carroll said the yards don’t bother him as much, but this game certainly didn’t need to be as tense as it was in the final minutes.
What I said: Matt Schaub
What happened: Schaub went crazy.
What I could have said: Marquise Blair
The Seahawks’ rookie safety had the play of the game for Seattle, stripping the ball from Devonta Freeman in the fourth quarter. Bobby Wagner recovered at the Seattle 1. Blair also had a game-high 11 tackles in his second start, and it appears he’ll be a mainstay in the secondary going forward.
WILD-CARD PLAYER WHO COULD SURPRISE
Who I said: Quandre Diggs
What happened: The versatile safety did not play because of a hamstring injury, five days after the Seahawks acquired him from Detroit.
Who I could have said: DK Metcalf
He certainly surprised Atlanta’s defense, which didn’t bother to cover the 6-foot-3 rookie on either of his touchdown catches when he lined up in bunch formation near the goal line. Metcalf may not have two easier touchdown catches for the rest of his career.
What I said: 29-7
What happened: With Russell Wilson as their QB, the Seahawks now have a 30-7 record coming off a loss. That’s the best record by a QB since the 1970 merger.
What I could have said: 115.5
Wilson again has the NFL’s best passer rating, at the season’s midway point he continues to be a front-runner in the MVP race. That, alone, is reason to think the best is yet to come for this Seahawks team.
THE FINAL WORD
What I said: Seahawks 31, Falcons 21
What happened: I’m 7-1 on game predictions this season. I’m confident my best football (predictions) is still ahead too.