Seahawks-Lions Review

Gee, it is great to have Kam Chancellor back! Strong safety Chancellor may have saved the Seattle Seahawks from a season of mediocrity last night when he forced receiver Charles Johnson of the Detroit Lions to fumble on Seattle’s half-yard line with less than two minutes to play. However, if the offensive line does not begin to play better – starting with Sunday’s game against the unbeaten Cincinnati Bengals – then a season without a postseason is still a possibility.

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Let’s start with a couple of items of the bad stuff…

Quarterback Russell Wilson’s numbers looked excellent: 20-26 for 287 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions. His quarterback rating was 125.0. However, he did fumble twice. My sister-in-law likes to point out that Wilson has uncommonly “big hands” for a player his size and can grip the football more easily. That may be so, but the way Wilson carried the ball just before fumbling was careless. Wilson surely felt the pressure around him, and even if he did not feel as if he were under immediate attack he should have had two hands on the ball. He was not in motion to throw, so he should have controlled the ball better. Assuming Wilson continues to face pressure as much as he has already this season (he is currently on pace to be sacked 703 times in 2015), Wilson has to take more precaution to not fumble. The offense simply does not score enough right now to overcome field position given up on quarterback turnovers, or, as was the case last night, the opposing defense running the fumbles back for touchdowns.

The offensive line stinks. Wilson has an amazing ability to escape pressure. Still, the Lions sacked Wilson six times on Monday. What happens if the worst of all possible outcomes comes to pass and Wilson gets hurt on one of his 703 sacks? Backup Tarvaris Jackson may be a competent quarterback, but no one has Wilson’s scramble talents. It is actually a small miracle that Wilson has not been injured over the last few years. He takes a lot of big hits. Without Wilson, the offensive line will be even more exposed as the weak link it is. Somehow, some way, the line has got to improve. It needs to allow the Seahawks to run more consistently and it has to keep Wilson more upright. The concern before the season was the offensive line, but it was assumed the line would improve as the season went on. This is not happening so far. If there is to be any hope of the Seahawks beating Cincinnati, the line has to have its best game by far. At this point, one would be right to wonder if that is possible.

Now for some of the good…

Kam Chancellor is simply a piece of the defense the Seahawks cannot do without. In two games with Chancellor, the defense has forced the Bears and Lions to punt on 18 possessions of a combined 20. Of the two other drives, only one ended in a score, and that was a field goal. The Bears, of course, were completely awful, but the Lions are not without talent. The Lions defense outscored their offense last night. Kam had a total of seven tackles, and the biggest one did not count. His shoulder-led tackle of Johnson was yet another violent and classic piece of Chancellor art. The Lions had a penalty on the play, so on paper there was no tackle. Johnson, who is a great player in his own right, might be having flashbacks of Chancellor for the next few days, though. Not only was he flattened on the non-tackle play, but Chancellor was the one who punched the ball out just before Johnson was about to cross the goal line for the go-ahead score.

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Let’s discuss the fumble play for a second. Should there have been a penalty on the Seahawks post-forced fumble when linebacker K.J. Wright tapped the ball out of the back of the end zone? Yes. But Wright could have picked the ball up had he wanted. He intentionally hit the ball for what he thought was a touchback (and, in fact, it was ruled that way). Wright’s play did not cause the fumble; the ball was already loose. If a penalty would have been called and the Lions were to re-take the ball on their own one-yard line and then scored, it would almost be as if they scored because of a ruling technicality and not because they earned it.

Honestly, there was not a whole lot of good that came out of the Lions game, other than the biggest piece that could: the Seahawks won. In the National Football League wins are not easy to come by, so a team will take an ugly one over a loss any day. Monday night was an ugly win for the Seahawks. They did not play in synch on offense, they allowed the Lions to drive down the field on what could have been a final drive touchdown, but they did enough to move to 2-2. That record sure looks a lot prettier than 1-3.