Four observations from the Seahawks' 31-25 victory over the Bills, including Russell Wilson's apparent return to form.
It was creaky and almost blew up, but the Seahawks ‘defense held the Bills when it mattered most. The Bills got the ball at their own 40-yard line with 2:41 left in the game. The game fell in the hands of the Seahawks’ defense, who had won so many games the last few years but who struggled Monday night.
The Bills converted a third-and-21, which was made worse by a personal foul on linebacker Bobby Wagner. The Bills kept marching, setting up a first-and-goal from the Seahawks’ 10-yard line.
The Seahawks wobbled, big time even, but Cliff Avril sacked Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor on third down and Taylor’s pass fell incomplete on fourth down.
It was wild, crazy and certainly not easy on anxiety. The Seahawks had plenty of problems defensively. But they held up in the end.
2. Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson is back.
Wilson scored on a run. He rolled out of the pocket out of play action. He scrambled when he had to. He took shots deep down the field and torched the Bills’ secondary.
He looked, in other words, normal.
That’s no small thing considering how banged up Wilson has been since the first game of the season. He had tried to shrug off his mounting injuries — first his ankle in Week 1, then his knee in Week 3. But it was clear that he wasn’t as explosive, and the Seahawks actively tried to keep him in the pocket.
This week, coach Pete Carroll said he thought the offense would improve because Wilson was healthier than he’d been all season. Wilson didn’t scramble much because he crushed the Bills from the pocket, but the threat of him running was alive for the first time in weeks. And that’s a huge part of the Seahawks’ offense.
Perfect example: Wilson dropped back to pass on third-and-4, didn’t have anyone open and scrambled up the middle for an 8-yard gain. He couldn’t have done that before.
Wilson hadn’t thrown a touchdown pass in his last three games, and the offense slogged around. With a healthy Wilson, the Seahawks looked like so many envisioned heading into the season.
3. Two issues: the running game and the defense.
Carroll will likely say that his offense didn’t get enough chances to run the ball, but the reality is the Seahawks weren’t productive when they did run it. Christine Michael had five carries for one yard. C.J. Prosise had three carries for nine yards. The longest run by either running back was for four yards, and the Seahawks rushed for just 33 yards as a team.
The Seahawks have ranked near the bottom of the NFL in yards per carry for most of the season. For all the good that happened offensively, the running game didn’t improve.
The other issue was one that hadn’t been a problem until last week: the defense. The Seahawks couldn’t get off the field against the Saints, and they also struggled to get off the field against the Bills.
The Bills churned out a touchdown drive over 10 minutes in the first quarter and one that ate up nearly seven minutes in the fourth quarter.
The Seahawks just had too many gaps in their zone defenses that the Bills picked part, and uncharacteristically they missed tackles.
4. Seahawks wide receiver Tyler Lockett is also back.
OK, so dock me points for my lack of creativity, but that was the second most important take away from Monday night’s game: After dealing with a knee injury most of the season, Lockett was explosive.
A healthy Lockett can influence the game in so many ways, and the Seahawks love using just about all of them. On Monday night, Lockett turned an end around from a 5-yard loss to a 13-yard gain. He caught one pass for 17 yards. And he returned a punt for 22 yards and a kickoff for 43 yards.
It was an explosiveness Lockett just hadn’t had since the second game of the season in Los Angeles, when he injured his knee.
Lockett’s speed and shiftiness just adds another threat to an offense that already has Doug Baldwin picking apart defenses from the slot, Jimmy Graham obliterating smaller defensive backs trying to cover him and Wilson’s scrambling ability looming as a threat.
Those are dangerous combinations, and the Bills struggled to find answers to those problems.