What we learned: Falcons 30, Seahawks 28
Posted by Danny O'Neil
Three things we learned
- The Seahawks have some scrap to them.
Close won't count in the standings, but Seattle's second-half rally against Atlanta constitutes a significant improvement over the past couple seasons when the Seahawks tended to go from bad to awful. Over the previous two seasons, Seattle faced 14 halftime deficits of 10 or more points. The Seahawks lost 13 of those games by double digits. In the previous two seasons, Seattle won just once after trailing by double digits at halftime, and that was last year's comeback against Carolina. The Panthers led 14-3 at halftime, but Seattle came back and won 31-14. While Seattle didn't complete its comeback from a 20-point deficit, the fact the Seahawks came as close as they did counts as progress.
- Seattle's offense works better without a huddle.
"It takes the thinking out of it," Tarvaris Jackson said. That's probably not the most reassuring rationale for why Seattle's offense has been so much better operating without a huddle, but it resonates with what center Max Unger said, too. Unger cited line coach Tom Cable saying that the Seahawks' young line plays better when it's going fast, too. The Seahawks went without a huddle for much of the second half, and scored as many touchdowns in a quarter and a half as they managed in the first three games combined.
- Tarvaris Jackson has eyes for more than just Sidney Rice.
Rice was the recipient of eight of Jackson's 18 completions against Arizona, and he accounted for more than half of Seattle's passing yardage in the game. Jackson completed passes to nine different players in Sunday's game. Doug Baldwin led Seattle with five catches, but seven players had three or more receptions in the game. That's a good thing for this offense, especially Mike Williams. He even caught a touchdown pass.
Three things we already knew
- Seattle has difficulty running the ball.
This is a recording. The Seahawks had 5 yards rushing at halftime, but as columnist Jerry Brewer pointed out in the press box, that was misleading. It really felt more like they had 3 yards rushing. Marshawn Lynch's 11-yard touchdown in the third quarter very nearly doubled the Seahawks' rushing yardage, going from 12 up to 23. Only the Tennessee Titans have rushed for fewer yards than Seattle so far this season.
- Seattle's defense gets better as the game goes on.
You'd think the Seahawks' offensive struggles would leave the defense hung out to dry. That Seattle's inability to control the ball would leave the defense on the field too long, and it would wear down in the second half. Well, you'd think wrong. Because on Sunday, Atlanta had the ball twice as long as Seattle in the first half, and Seattle's defense still got out there with a steel-toed effort in the second half. The Seahawks put a lid on Atlanta's running game and kept the Falcons out of the end zone. Seattle's defense has allowed only one second-half touchdown in four games this season.
- Leon Washington is still a special component of this team.
Did you write Washington off after he didn't have a return of more than 30 yards in the first three games? Did you think that moving the kickoffs up was going to mute the player who came as close as any Seahawk to making the Pro Bowl? Well, Washington gave a glimpse of how important he remains to this team. His 36-yard kickoff return in the third quarter jumpstarted Seattle's first touchdown drive of the second half, and his 33-yard punt return later in the period put the Seahawks at the Atlanta 11. Marshawn Lynch scored on the very next play.
Three things we're still trying to figure out
- Tarvaris Jackson, breakthrough or aberration?
The man had a career passing day, throwing for 319 yards and three touchdowns. Will this be a sign of things to come for a player most people decided was a below-average starter or was it simply one great half against an Atlanta team ranked in the bottom quarter of the league in pass defense? Jackson was not sacked in a game for the first time this season, and he was much more proficient than anyone really expected.
- Where are the turnovers?
Seattle failed to force a turnover for the third time in its four games this season. The Seahawks have two takeaways on the year, which is fewest in the NFC and tied for second-fewest in the NFL. Only Pittsburgh has forced fewer turnovers. Is this a trend that is going to even out over the course of the season or will Seattle's lack of turnovers correlate with the Seahawks' lack of consistent pass pressure. After all, the quarterback is the one who is the most vulnerable with the ball, and with five sacks, Seattle is tied for second-fewest in the league.
- What will Aaron Curry's role be this week?
There's no bigger puzzle on this team right now. For the second consecutive week, the former first-round pick did not start, but he did finish the game at strongside linebacker in place of rookie K.J. Wright. Both players made some mistakes, according to the coaches, and how those roles shake out this week will be something to watch. The injury to linebacker Matt McCoy and the balky hamstring of rookie Malcolm Smith further muddle the picture at linebacker.
Dec 24 - 6:10 AM Looking back: Revisiting Sunday's scouting report
Dec 24 - 1:09 AM Seahawks' scoring binge
Dec 24 - 1:01 AM Video: Summing Seattle's victory
Dec 24 - 12:58 AM Video: Russell Wilson post-game comments
Dec 24 - 12:21 AM Rookie passing roll call