Russell Wilson got some much-needed help in the kitchen.
Letting Russ cook this season was the right move by the Seattle Seahawks, but the last couple weeks, he looked like a player who was putting everything on his shoulders. He had good reason. Due to injuries, Seattle had no reliable run game, and the Seahawks defense has been bad all year.
On Thursday night, the Seahawks looked like a team, and not just a quarterback trying to make up for countless deficiencies. Seattle ran the ball well. The defense played its best game of the season and got a key stop in the final two minutes. And Wilson played well, too, as the Seahawks won a huge NFC West game over the Arizona Cardinals, 28-21.
The Seahawks are 7-3 with the win and the Cardinals are 6-4. A Seattle loss would have put the Seahawks a game behind in the standings, and Arizona would have owned the tiebreaker due to a season sweep.
Seattle figured out some things just in time to take back control of the NFC West race.
Defense, run game come up big
Wilson is undeniably great, but he had struggled the past couple weeks. He was pressing. Thursday night looked more like the MVP candidate from the beginning of the season.
Wilson was great again on Thursday night. His scramble drill touchdown to DK Metcalf was classic Wilson, and he threw a beautiful pass in the end zone to Tyler Lockett for another touchdown. But he also got a lot of help from Carlos Hyde, who was back from injury. Hyde gave the Seahawks some semblance of a run game. Seattle rushed for 165 yards. And the Seahawks defense, giving up passing yards at a record rate before Thursday, played surprisingly well against a good Cardinals offense.
Kyler Murray was getting the MVP buzz that Wilson lost the past couple weeks. The Seahawks contained him very well. It’s possible Murray’s shoulder, which got attention on the sideline after he was tackled on a first-quarter run, affected his play. Murray still made some nice plays, but the Seahawks made him work for what he got. Seattle’s defense hadn’t made anyone work yet this season.
Seattle needed to keep Arizona out of the end zone in the final two minutes, and Murray was poised in moving the Cardinals downfield. Arizona got deep into Seahawks territory in the final minute. But Murray threw incomplete three straight times from the Seattle 28, and on fourth-and-10, he was sacked by Carlos Dunlap.
Wilson can do a lot for a team and has lifted Seattle on his shoulders for years, but it’s hard to ask him to do that every week and against good teams. Thursday night was a much better look for the Seahawks.
Seahawks defense makes big plays late
Finding a running game helps, but the biggest difference for the Seahawks was the fine night by the defense.
The Seahawks defense came up with two huge plays early in the fourth quarter. On first down, Seattle defended well and when Murray threw it away, it was intentional grounding. Backed up near their own goal line, guard J.R. Sweezy held as he was beat on an inside move by defensive lineman L.J. Collier, and the holding call in the end zone resulted in a safety.
That gave Seattle a 25-21 lead. The way the Seahawks had controlled the game, sustaining drives and helping to not stress the defense, that seemed like it would be enough to win.
Seattle had a scare with 2:31 left when Wilson’s flip to Hyde was fumbled, and he barely recovered it. The Cardinals challenged the recovery, but the call stood. Wilson threw it away on third down, didn’t get a roughing-the-passer call when a Cardinals defender hit him in the head, and Jason Myers kicked a field goal for a 28-21 lead.
Murray had more than two minutes, and he showed last week against Buffalo he can lead a winning drive in far less time than that. But Seattle got the key stop to seal the win.
The Seahawks started this season by relying on Wilson more than ever, and that tipped too far the past couple weeks. They were leaning on their star quarterback for everything. The Seahawks proved Thursday night they can still be a very good team if Wilson’s not doing it all by himself.
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