Takeaways from Seahawks 28-26 win over Steelers

Seattle Seahawks v Pittsburgh Steelers

For the first time since their Super Bowl winning season in 2013, the Seattle Seahawks are 2-0 to begin the year after a 28-26 victory on the road over the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll won't be happy that his team lost the turnover battle to Pittsburgh as running back Chris Carson fumbled twice to set up a pair of Steelers' touchdowns. However, Carson atoned for the mistakes by converted a fourth-and-1 run with two minutes left to play to seal the victory over Pittsburgh.

Though the offensive line struggled with protection and penalties early, it was a game the Seahawks controlled pretty convincingly outside of the gifted touchdowns from the Carson fumbles. Both turnovers happened deep in Seattle territory, which gave the Steelers less than 25 yards needed to gain for both scores.

The defense did a solid job as well of slowing down Pittsburgh's offense despite being without Poona Ford and Ziggy Ansah up front.

It's just the 11th time in team history that Seattle has opened a season at 2-0 and just the second time it has happened with Carroll as the head coach. They've made the playoffs each of the last four times they began the year 2-0 with the Super Bowl win over the Denver Broncos wrapping up the 2013 season.

Here are the takeaways from Sunday's win at Pittsburgh:

-- Brian Schottenheimer made key adjustments to get Seattle offense going.

The offensive coordinator is always the punching bag for frustrated fans venting over a stagnant offensive performance. He also needs to get credit for the adjustments made Sunday in Pittsburgh.

The Seahawks offense was getting wrecked due to penalties and mistakes from the offensive line during the first half. The unit allowed four sacks and the offense had six total offensive penalties to help short-circuit an offense that was moving the ball pretty consistently. The team made a change as the game progressed with the passing game moving from longer developing routes down field to a quicker attack with the ball being spread to many different targets. Eight different players ended up catching passes in Seattle's offense on Sunday with four different players gaining at least 50 yards.

The contrast between the early game plan and the adjusted play-calling as the game progressed was stark. Wilson settled in and did not get sacked once in the second half. They went the entire third quarter without an offensive penalty and managed to overcome the three line penalties called against them in the fourth quarter anyway as the offense rolled to 426 yards of total offense.

-- Pittsburgh's offense struggled to produce against Seattle's defense.

If it wasn't for the self-inflicted wounds of the Carson fumbles, the strong defensive performance against the Steelers would be more easily recognized.

Whether it was Ben Roethlisberger or Mason Rudolph under center for Pittsburgh, the Seahawks did a good job of keeping their opponents from moving the football. Pittsburgh punted on four of their first five possessions with three three-and-outs over that span. The only hiccup was James Conner's 1-yard touchdown run after a Carson fumble gave Pittsburgh the ball at the Seattle 22-yard line for a short field drive.

The Steelers produced just two drives all game that spanned at least 50 yards. That drive was keyed by a 45-yard flea-flicker to JuJu Smith-Schuster over safety Lano Hill. However, the flea-flicker was one of just two plays all day to gain more than 20 yards along with a 23-yard carry by Benny Snell.

The Steelers were held to just 261 yards of total offense. Losing Ben Roethlisberger and Conner to injuries certainly didn't help their cause, but if Carson's fumbles hadn't set up two relatively easy touchdowns this game could have been far more lopsided.

-- Chris Carson has to improve his ball security.

It's been mentioned a bunch already in this piece, but the two fumbles by Carson were almost enough to thwart Seattle's chances.

T.J. Watt punched the ball free from Carson's grasp late in the first quarter. The ball was recovered and returned for a touchdown by linebacker Mark Barron only to have an illegal block overturn the score. It made no difference as Conner scored four plays later to get the touchdown back and give the Steelers the early lead.

The second fumble was equally as problematic. After a DK Metcalf touchdown gave Seattle a 28-19 advantage, the Seahawks' defense forced a punt with less than six minutes to play. Any reasonable length drive and a punt - even a three-and-out, will burn enough clock to force a backup quarterback in Rudolph to produce two scoring drives with approximately four minutes to play.

Instead, Carson failed to get the hand-off cleanly from Russell Wilson and Devin Bush picked up the loose ball and returned it to the 3-yard line. It took one play for Rudolph to hit Vance McDonald for a touchdown and close the gap to 28-26 with 5:34 remaining.

But the offense bailed Carson out by picking up three consecutive first downs to run the clock down to the two-minute warning. Carson then had a chance to make up for the mistakes by converting on fourth-and-1 to allow Seattle to run out the clock.

When you consider Carson lost a fumble last week against the Cincinnati Bengals as well and got a little loose with his securing of the ball on late first down run, it's an area of his game he has to improve. It also seems to explain why Mike Davis was so regularly the option in late game situations last season as well.

-- DK Metcalf looks like the real deal.

Just two games into his career, it's notable just how much Russell Wilson seems to trust DK Metcalf.

Metcalf was the second-most targeted pass target in Sunday's win over Pittsburgh just a week after being the highest-targeted option in the win over the Cincinnati Bengals.

Metcalf caught three passes for 61 yards and what was ultimately the game-winning 28-yard touchdown against the Steelers. Metcalf has racked up 150 receiving yards in just two games, which would put him on a 1,200-yard pace for the season. A 1,200-yard season has only been accomplished four times in franchise history, three times by Steve Largent (1979, 1981, 1985) and Koren Robinson (2002). It's a small sample size and 7/8ths of the season remain to be played so that's getting way, way, way ahead of things.

Metcalf got a one-on-one matchup with safety Terrell Edmunds and Wilson delivered a perfect throw on a slot-fade for a 28-yard touchdown to give Seattle a 28-19 lead.

Metcalf broke Largent's record for most receiving yards by a rookie in his debut last week against the Bengals with 89 yards.

Only seven rookie receivers in team history have managed even 600 yards in their rookie seasons. Doug Baldwin (788) and Tyler Lockett (664) are the last two players to accomplish that feat. Joey Galloway is the only rookie receiver to manage a 1,000-yard season with 1,039 yards in 1995. Metcalf is already off to a great start through two weeks.

-- Offensive line has to clean up the penalties.

The offensive line was called for seven separate penalties on Sunday with an additional two blocking fouls being incurred by wide receiver Jaron Brown.

The full list of offenses:

  • Jaron Brown - Illegal Block Above The Waist
  • Germain Ifedi - Holding
  • Germain Ifedi - Holding
  • Mike Iupati - Holding
  • D.J. Fluker - Holding
  • Jaron Brown - Illegal Block Above The Waist
  • Germain Ifedi - False Start
  • D.J. Fluker - Holding
  • Ethan Pocic - Holding

That's an ugly list that could have scuttled an offense that really performed quite well otherwise on Sunday. The right side of the line, Fluker and Ifedi, struggled with protections early on too and Fluker left the game due to a leg injury sustained from being landed on in a pile. However, the nine total calls against Seattle blockers is a big problem.

It was a clean third quarter for the unit before the Ifedi false start, and Fluker and Pocic holdings came in the fourth quarter. However, Seattle still converted the Metcalf touchdown on the drive with the false start and Fluker holding, and managed to convert enough first downs to run out the clock on the final drive with the Pocic holding. The next time out that may not be the case and getting a cleaner performance from the group will be a big priority.

Photo Credit: PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 15: Russell Wilson #3 of the Seattle Seahawks passes in the second quarter during the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on September 15, 2019 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)

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