Three things we learned: Seahawks 22, Ravens 17
Posted by Danny O'Neil
Three things we learned
- The progress in the run game was not a mirage.
Marshawn Lynch's three highest regular-season rushing performances have come in his last four starts for the Seahawks. He gained 135 yards against the Cowboys, who were one of the best rush defenses in the league through the first six games. He gained 109 yards against Baltimore, which is tends to be as accommodating as a brick wall to runners. Yes, it took Lynch 30 carries, but this wasn't a case of 20 runs for 2 yards or fewer and then a couple big breakouts that skewed the average. Lynch consistently found headway against the Ravens, which is the most tangible sign of progress for this offense.
- Golden Tate is progressing.
You just haven't seen it because the Seahawks are deeper at receiver this season. But after injuries knocked both Sidney Rice and Doug Baldwin out of Sunday's game, Tate stepped into a prominent role with two receptions on the first three plays of Seattle's final drive. He is a talented player, someone who is a playmaker with the ball in his hands, but last season demonstrated he isn't the quickest to pick up a new playbook. Expect Tate's improvement to translate to more second-half production this season.
- Pass protection does not have to be an oxymoron for Seattle.
For the second consecutive week, the Seahawks held an opponent with impressive pass-rushing credentials to just one sack. That stat is a compliment to the development of the offensive line, but not entirely for the reason you think. Seattle's ability to run the ball has prevented opponents from being able to pin their ears back, knowing the Seahawks have to pass to have any prayer of moving the ball. The Ravens entered the game with the second-most sacks in the league. The fact they had only one in Seattle shows the Seahawks are becoming more capable of taking care of their quarterback.
Three things we already knew
- Earl Thomas is on his way to becoming an elite safety.
Everyone saw the ball he almost intercepted, and they probably shouted in frustration as Thomas and cornerback Brandon Browner collided, preventing either one from making the catch. But the most important thing about that play occurred before Flacco ever threw the ball. "I kind of baited the quarterback to throw that," Thomas said afterward. The Ravens had two vertical routes on the play, and Thomas took a step toward one side to make Flacco thinks that's where he was going. "Then I ran back out," Thomas said.
The onlyOne interception Thomas had this season was negated by a penalty
- Zach Miller is an effective receiving target.
You just wouldn't know it by his production with the Seahawks this season. He caught three passes against Baltimore, matching his most in any game this season. As Seattle's offensive line continues to progress, expect Seattle to feature Miller more and more as a receiver as they no longer need his blocking to make sure the quarterback stays upright.
- Penalties are a problem for Seattle.
It's not just the penalties during the plays. It's the penalties before the plays: Seattle had two false starts on offense and three neutral-zone violations. It's the penalties after plays: The Seahawks had two personal-foul penalties that were called after a play. The Seahawks were penalized 13 times, the most in any game against Seattle since the season opener in 2002.
Three things we're still trying to figure out
- Where did Seattle's special-teams coverage units find a phone booth?
They came out looking like super men. This has been a weakness for Seattle this season. The Seahawks have allowed two punts to be returned for a touchdown and one kickoff, matching the total number of kick-return touchdowns given up by Seattle in the previous five seasons combined., Well, that special teams unit forced Baltimore returner David Reed to fumble twice in the first half, playing with a headstrong abandon that was a distinct improvement.
- How in the world Alan Branch wasn't a starter in Arizona.
Typecast as an underachiever in Arizona, Branch has looked anything but as Seattle's nosetackle. He plays with passion, energy and he's built similarly to Red Bryant giving the Seahawks another long-limbed hulk on the defensive line. The Cardinals weren't all that sad to see him go, but he has been a key addition to Seattle's defensive line.
- Why did Ray Rice carry the ball only five times for Baltimore?
Sure, Baltimore was behind, but five carries for Ray Rice? Five? Just one of which was in the second half. Ravens offensive coordinator Cam Cameron has some explaining to do because while Seattle's defensive front is stout, Baltimore needed to give its back more chances to get going.
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