After a frustrating home loss to the New Orleans Saints last week, the Seattle Seahawks played perhaps their most complete game of the season in a 27-10 win over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.
Chris Carson rebounded from fumble issues to post his best game of the year, the defense shut down Arizona's Air Raid offense, and the self-inflicted wounds from the first the first three weeks were mostly non-existent. The Seahawks now return home for a short week prior to Thursday night's meeting with the suddenly 3-1 Los Angeles Rams after a 55-40 loss at home to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
"We're learning how to play our football really with our guys," head coach Pete Carroll said. "The way, the style that we're playing. We're learning how to do it. It's still in process. We're putting it together. ... Really happy with the progress we're making and really high hopes that we can keep growing."
The Seahawks didn't turnover the football and were penalty-free for the first half of the game, which marks a big stride forward after fumbles and penalties have plagued the team at times through three weeks.
But before turning the page to the Rams, here's the key takeaways from the road win over the Cardinals:
-- Chris Carson shows resolve to reward Seahawks for continued faith.
The Seahawks never waived in their support of running back Chris Carson this week despite losing a fumble in each of the first three games of the season. Carson rewarded that support on Sunday by proving once again why he's Seattle's top ball-carrier.
Carson rushed for 104 yards on 22 carries for the Seahawks and also caught four passes for 41 yards against the Cardinals. It wasn't just the statistics that matter either, it was the way they were accumulated. Carson frequently barreled through Cardinals' defenders for extra yards. Whether it was a run that seemingly was destined to be a loss before Carson squirted through a crevice, or a run that should have been eight yards and turned into 14 instead, Carson was in peak form against Arizona.
"He ran really tough all day long, didn't change his style at all. If anything, he ran as hard as he's run all year. Just fired up for him because we need Chris running like that," Carroll said.
Carroll said after the game that Rashaad Penny should be good to go for Thursday night's game against the Rams, which could be a very welcome addition as Carson is coming off 26 touches on a short week of recovery. Penny missed his second straight game Sunday due to a hamstring strain. But Carson is the team's top option for a reason and he proved that the continued faith was well placed in the desert.
-- Shaquill Griffin is off to a tremendous start this season.
Cornerback Shaquill Griffin felt like he was too heavy and too focused on filling the shadow of Richard Sherman last season for the Seahawks. He dropped 20 pounds this offseason and took a different mindset into his third season in Seattle and the early returns are extremely positive.
Griffin has looked every bit the part of a No. 1 cornerback over the first month of the 2019 season. He finished Sunday's game tied for second on the team in tackles with seven and picked up his third pass defense of the season as well. Griffin's side of the field has not been targeted nearly as often as other areas of the field, but when it has been Griffin has been up for the task.
"Last year, the weight that I was at, [I could be moving, and running around] and I would get so fatigued so fast and that’s the part of my game that I took out. It’s a big difference, it’s been feeling good the first three games," Griffin said last week.
Griffin has 16 tackles and three passed defended through four weeks of the season and looks every bit mobile enough to handle the demands of the job.
"He's just been active in every game," Carroll said. "I'm really, really pleased. He's just benefiting from the offseason. The work that they did, both he and his brother, did a great job in of coming back in a different body than they left. ... Shaq's doing a great job. I'm really pleased with what he's doing."
-- Will Dissly is such a better fit for the Seahawks than Jimmy Graham every was.
Will Dissly may never match the career receiving total of former Seahawks tight end Jimmy Graham, but there's absolutely no question he's a better fit for a Seattle offense.
Dissly was targeted by Russell Wilson a team-high eight times on Sunday, recording seven catches for 57 yards and a touchdown. No other target received more than four looks from Wilson in Arizona. Dissly now has 19 catches for 181 yards and four touchdowns in four games this season for the Seahawks. He's caught a touchdown in five of his eight career games for the Seahawks dating back to last season.
Dissly has shown he's more than capable as a receiver as well. Per the Seahawks, Dissly's six career touchdowns are the most touchdowns by an NFL tight end through eight career games since Pittsburgh’s Heath Miller scored six in his first seven career games in 2005. With seven receptions he set a career high for the second-consecutive week after he totaled six last week vs. the Saints.
Dissly can play in every scenario for Seattle where Graham was comically ineffective as a blocker during his time with the Seahawks.
Graham absolutely had his moments with the Seahawks as well. He had 923 yards on 65 catches in 2016 and posted 10 touchdowns in 2017 during his three seasons with Seattle. But Dissly is clearly a better fit. Seattle's offense had to adapt to add Graham's skill-set to the offense and it sometimes came at the expense of the running game. Dissly's fit is ideal, much more in the mold of a Zach Miller, who played for the Seahawks from 2011-14.
Dissly has a clear rapport with Wilson as well which has seemed to be almost effortless. It's a connection that took quite some time to develop between Wilson and Graham. His 9-yard touchdown against the Cardinals and career-high seven catches is just another example of that and how perfectly he fits in Seattle's plans.
-- Defense shut down everything except for David Johnson the pass catcher.
Against an offensive attack that is known for wanting to throw the ball all over the place, the Seahawks defense did a great job of keeping Kyler Murray and crew from hurting them on Sunday.
The only member of the Cardinals' offense to truly do any damage against Seattle was running back David Johnson. However, his successes didn't come as a rusher, but as a receiver in the passing game. Johnson caught eight passes for 99 yards against the Seahawks on Sunday as the screen attack continues to be an area of success for Seattle opponents.
The screen game wasn't all bad for Seattle. Johnson was the intended target on an early screen pass that was intercepted by defensive end Jadeveon Clowney and returned 27 yards for a touchdown that gave Seattle a 10-0 lead.
Most of Arizona's offense came in the fourth quarter when the game was already heavily slanted in Seattle's favor. The Cardinals gained 321 yards overall, but 119 of those yards came int he fourth quarter alone. Johnson gained just 40 yards on 11 carries on the ground and Larry Fitzgerald added five catches for 47 yards to carry the rest of the Cardinals' offensive output. Murray was sacked four times as well with Mychal Kendricks getting a pair of sacks, and Rasheem Green and Ziggy Ansah each getting one as well. Ansah's sack came on the final play of the game.
The Cardinals are still finding their football as Kliff Kingsbury brings the Air Raid to the NFL, but Seattle's defense did a good job of keeping explosive plays in check outside of a couple big catch-and-run chances from Johnson.
Photo Credit: GLENDALE, ARIZONA - SEPTEMBER 29: Running back Chris Carson #32 of the Seattle Seahawks carries the ball against cornerback Byron Murphy #33 of the Arizona Cardinals in the first half of the NFL game at State Farm Stadium on September 29, 2019 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)