Seahawks are dominant vs. Cardinals, particularly on defense
There was sloppiness and pass protection continues to be an issue with injuries on the offensive line, but Seattle is confident it can be corrected.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Seahawks @ St. Louis Rams, 5:30 p.m., ESPN
By the numbers
7 Sacks by the Seahawks, the second-most Seattle has had in a game since 2006. The Seahawks had eight in last year’s win over the Packers.
30 Rushing yards by the Cardinals, a season low by a Seahawks opponent.
Namely, just what the heck was that little dance performed by linebacker Malcolm Smith following his sack of Arizona’s Carson Palmer in the fourth quarter, one of a season-high seven for the Seattle defense?
“It’s the Hawk Eyes,” Smith explained of a gyration that looked a little like the one John Travolta and Uma Thurman made famous in “Pulp Fiction.”
As he talked, fellow linebacker Bruce Irvin, seated at the next locker, interjected. “You know how the Legion of Boom is?” he said, referencing Seattle’s famed secondary corps. “We (the linebackers) are the Hawk Eyes. We see everything.’’
“We might need something better,’’ Smith countered, saying that maybe they should be “the Seahawk Eyes.’’
Illustrating the work that remains, Smith said the linebackers have been talking about creating a signature move for a little while and planned to unveil it against the Cardinals as a group, but that K.J. Wright simply forgot to do it when he got a sack earlier in the game.
It was that kind of night in the desert, as the Seahawks overcame their own mistakes to pretty much have their way with the Cardinals.
The sacks were the second-most for the Seahawks since 2008 (Seattle had eight in a win last year over Green Bay), and the 30 rushing yards allowed a season low.
The offense, meanwhile, scored on five of its first eight possessions (and touchdowns on four) in a building in which the Seahawks had lost six of their previous seven games.
The only real complaints were some sloppiness — such as a penalty that wiped out a Golden Tate punt return that could have made it 21-0 in the second quarter and allowed the party to start a lot earlier — and some faulty pass protection by a still-undermanned offensive line that helped lead to two Russell Wilson fumbles.
“It didn’t feel like they stopped us as much as it felt like we stopped ourselves a few too many times,’’ said coach Pete Carroll.
The Seahawks are fairly confident the offensive-line issues will get resolved when starting tackles Russell Okung and Breno Giacomini return from injuries.
They are equally confident about reducing self-inflicted errors.
“We have a lot further to go,” said cornerback Richard Sherman. “This wasn’t our cleanest ballgame. We haven’t played our best ball yet. We’re far from where we want to be. We can play more sound. We can play more disciplined. We can eliminate the penalties. I think as the season progresses, we will get stronger.”
The real revelation at University of Phoenix Stadium might have been the depth of Seattle’s front seven.
The pass rush, in particular, was one of the biggest questions about the team in the offseason, one the Seahawks tried to address with the acquisitions of Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril and Tony McDaniel.
Thursday night, each got credit for one sack as Seattle harassed Palmer from start to finish.
Five other players also got credit for at least a half of a sack, including end Chris Clemons, who had officially been questionable for the game with a hyperextended elbow, and tackle Clinton McDonald, who the team released before the season, then re-signed prior to the 49ers game.
“The line of scrimmage was really solid,’’ Carroll said. “… It’s great to see the production of the pass rush; that’s getting better. We said earlier it’s going to take us awhile before we figure out how to mix our guys in the pass rush, because we have a number of different kinds of athletes to mix in there and so we’re still finding that out.’’
The linebacking corps also got in the act despite the fact that for a second straight week it featured three players making just their second starts of the season at each spot — K.J. Wright in the middle, Smith on the weakside and Irvin on the strong side. Wright started again at MLB for the injured Bobby Wagner, which forced Smith to move from the strongside to the weakside, and Irvin to move into the strongside, where he is now playing primarily after having been suspended for the first four games.
Smith led the Seahawks with eight tackles and had two for a loss, Wright had seven and Irvin had four, with all three playing at least 75 percent of the snaps.
Now they get a little break before returning to practice next week to prepare for a game at St. Louis on Oct. 28, happy with where they are but knowing they’re not exactly where they need to be.
“We just have not had the kind of across-the-board clean game that we are looking for,” Carroll said. “So it feels like we are still growing. This is still a very young team. We have enough firepower in a lot of areas to overcome the kind of things that are going in the wrong direction, but we are playing good, solid football.”
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Twitter @bcondotta