Seahawks bottle up Alfred Morris
Washington running back Alfred Morris is limited to just 29 yards on 13 carries, with a long of 11 yards.
Seattle Times staff reporter
LANDOVER, Md. – On a night when a lot of things didn’t go as planned for the Seattle Seahawks, one thing unfolded more perfectly than even they might have imagined.
And when a most inartful game had finally concluded, the Seattle Seahawks pointed to their ability to make Washington running back Alfred Morris a complete non-factor as being as big a reason as any for their 27-17 win.
Well, that and Russell Wilson’s 122 yards rushing, a record for a quarterback in the 45-year history of Monday Night Football.
Or, maybe, the five-yard run by punter Jon Ryan on a fake field goal that led to a fourth-quarter touchdown that pretty much sealed the deal.
“It wasn’t pretty, but it got the job done,’’ said Ryan of his run, a quote that pretty much summed up the entire game, as Seattle often was its own worst enemy with 13 penalties, three of which nullified apparent Percy Harvin touchdowns.
Ryan could crow later that he had a longer run than Morris did in the second half of the game, as Seattle’s run defense forced Washington coach Jay Gruden to second-guess himself later.
“Alfred is obviously one of our better players,’’ said Gruden of Morris, who rushed for 1,613 yards in 2012 and 1,275 last season. “So we can’t just abandon him, although we probably should have.’’
That’s what Seattle dearly wanted to have happen. They knew Kirk Cousins, filling in for the injured Robert Griffin III, was unlikely to win the game by himself through the air.
So take out Morris, and they were likely to also take away a win.
“We allowed 32 yards rushing against a really good running game,’’ said Carroll of a Washington squad that came into the game averaging 123 yards rushing, 12th in the NFL. “I really liked the way we played there.’’
Morris finished with just 29 on 13, and only one carry of longer than five yards.
And when the game was over, Seattle could lay the title of having the best run defense in the NFL, allowing just 249 yards on 95 carries in four games this season, just 2.6 yards per attempt — no other team in the NFL is allowing less than three yards per attempt.
“We just don’t want to be known as a defense that can’t stop the run,’’ said linebacker Bruce Irvin. “That’s our biggest thing is dominating people and making them play our style of football and I think we did a great job of that tonight.’’
The key against Washington, Seattle players said, was to stay in their gaps. Washington likes to get the flow of the play going one way, then let Morris cut and find open lanes on the backside.
“The key to their stretch run game is to get everybody to outrun the play,’’ said Seattle middle linebacker Bobby Wagner.
That was something Seattle struggled with a few times last year, notably a two-game stretch at midseason when St. Louis and Tampa Bay each rushed for 200 yards or more.
But this year, the Seahawks appear to rarely be out of position in their run defense — the Seahawks longest run allowed this year is 16 yards, tied for the lowest in the NFL.
“I think we are just trusting each other,’’ Wagner said. “Everybody is in their position and everybody is doing a great job of being in their gaps and we are doing a great job of making tackles.’’
Indeed, it was a total team effort Monday night. Tackles Brandon Mebane, Tony McDaniel and Kevin Williams clogged the middle, and ends Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril kept everything inside.
“We did a great job of setting the edges and turning the ball back and then the tackles were running down the line and making plays,’’ Irvin said.
And then Wagner and the other members of the back seven cleaned everything up.
“They’re just very active,’’ Morris said. “They were doing a good job of shedding blocks. They would shed guys and fall back into holes. It was definitely causing problems in the running game.’’
And as big a reason as any for why Seattle ended the night 3-1, having moved into a tie with Arizona in the NFC West.
“The line of scrimmage was really well coordinated,’’ Carroll said “We were fired up the way we played their run game.’’