RENTON — If the Seahawks answered some questions about themselves Sunday — namely, how they’d respond from one of their most disappointing efforts in years the week before — more than a few still remain.
Specifically, can the Seahawks beat an acknowledged NFL power?
While wins are wins in the NFL and teams play the games as they are scheduled, it’s obviously a fair point that entering Monday night, Seattle had yet to beat a team that had beaten anyone else (Seattle’s three victories came against teams that were a combined 0-9-1 entering the Steelers-Bengals game Monday night, which with the Steelers’ victory means the record now stands at 1-10-1).
That’ll change this week as the Seahawks host the Rams, who are the defending NFC champs, two-time defending NFC West champs, and before a surprising home defeat against Tampa Bay on Sunday a team that had appeared to have picked up where it left off a season ago.
The date with the Rams kicks off a stretch of 10 games in which only one Seattle opponent currently has a losing record (Atlanta). So, just how good Seattle really is will be answered soon.
First, a review of the 27-10 victory Sunday over Arizona.
MATCHUP TO WATCH
What I said: Seattle pass defense against Arizona quarterback Kyler Murray.
What happened: As coach Pete Carroll said, Sunday was probably the most solid performance by Seattle’s secondary this season in holding the Cardinals to 206 net yards passing, 38 below their average, with Shaquill Griffin continuing his strong start to his third season. The Rams, though, will be a much sterner test.
What I could have said: Will Dissly against the Cardinals’ secondary.
Dissly had another big day with seven receptions and a touchdown in making a triumphant return to the scene of his horrific knee injury a year ago. The Seahawks so had their way with the middle of the field that the Cardinals on Monday released veteran strong safety D.J. Swearinger, who struggled throughout Sunday. Dissly has 18 receptions on 20 targets for 169 yards and four touchdowns in his past three games.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Who I said: Running back Chris Carson
What happened: Carson had the bounce-back game everyone was hoping for with 104 yards rushing and 41 receiving and 26 fumble-less touches of the ball. Carroll’s proclamation that Carson ran hard as ever was illustrated in a stat from Sports Info Solutions stating Carson broke or evaded 21 tackles, the most of any running back this season.
Who I could have said: Defensive end Jadeveon Clowney.
He’d been sort of quiet in Week 2 and Week 3. But superstars are superstars because they make superstar plays and that’s what Clowney’s pick-six unquestionably was. Though lots of game remained at the time — almost 50 minutes — the game sort of felt over once Clowney gave Seattle a 10-0 lead. Clowney also was named to Pro Football Focus’ Team of the Week for the pick-six as well as recording five hurries in 31 pass-rush snaps.
COACHING DECISION TO WATCH
What I said: All of them.
What happened: OK, so maybe that was a somewhat facetious answer in response to a game marked with questionable coaching decisions (and non-decisions) the week before, compelling Carroll to say candidly, “I’ve got to do better.’’ Give Carroll and staff credit not only for taking blame last week but getting things turned around this week.
What I could have said: Being aggressive on offense early.
Whether by game-plan design or just the way it worked out, the Seahawks were uncommonly aggressive throwing early on. Twelve of Seattle’s first 16 plays were passes and Seattle also threw it on six of their first nine first-down plays.
Russell Wilson was 4 for 6 on those plays for 57 yards as the Seahawks built a 17-3 lead. From there, the Seahawks resorted more to a ball-control game, finishing with 28 passes to 27 runs.
What I said: Tackling.
What happened: It was vastly better. Seattle never got a handle on Alvin Kamara the week before, but the Seahawks were generally solid against Arizona.
What I could have said: Red-zone scoring.
Seattle scored touchdowns on two of four drives inside the 20 and scored field goals on the two others — its other four possessions didn’t get past the Arizona 47. That contrasted with Arizona scoring just 10 points on four drives inside the Seattle 30.
The Seahawks have been efficient in the red zone so far this season, tied with Dallas for the best red-zone scoring percentage in the NFL at 76.92%, scoring touchdowns on 10 of 13 drives inside the 20.
WILD-CARD PLAYER WHO COULD SURPRISE
Who I said: Tight end Luke Willson.
What happened: In a stadium in which he’s done well in the past, Willson had another memorable moment with his 17-yard reception on a third down in the fourth quarter preserving Seattle’s last scoring drive.
Who I could have said: Receiver Jaron Brown.
Brown returned to where he played from 2013 to 2017 and made his biggest impact of the season with three catches on three targets — he had just three receptions for the season coming in — including a 32-yarder that converted a third-and-four play and sparked a Seattle drive that made it 17-3.
What I said: 0-0, which was Seattle’s record this year when leading at the end of the first quarter or halftime.
What happened: The Seahawks put the “slow start’’ label to rest, for a day anyway, with leads of 17-3 at the end of the first quarter and 20-3 at halftime, allowing Seattle fans to watch a second half of a game in relative relaxation.
What I could have said: 1. The total return yards for Arizona.
A week after allowing an early punt return that helped spark the Saints to a victory, the Seahawks were almost flawless on special teams. All six of Jason Myers’ kickoffs went into the end zone for touchbacks and only one of Michael Dickson’s four punts was returned, for just 1 yard. It all meant Arizona had an average drive start of its own 22, 6 yards worse than any Seahawks opponent had in the first three games.
THE FINAL WORD
What I said: Seattle 31, Arizona 13.
What happened: Almost exactly that as the Seahawks got a comfortable return-to-form victory in a game that was exactly what they had to have as they now head into the meat of their schedule.