The Seattle Seahawks did exactly what they should do against a winless, hapless New York Jets team.
Beat the hell out of them.
Russell Wilson, Chris Carson, Duane Brown, DK Metcalf, Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright and others all got to take an early seat on the bench as the Seahawks crushed the Jets 40-3 on Sunday afternoon. The Jets got their only points of the game on the opening possession and then could do nothing to overcome the avalanche the Seahawks created from there forward.
"This is a real complete, complete win for us today," head coach Pete Carroll said.
Wilson completed 21-of-27 passes for 206 yards with four touchdowns and an interception. Chris Carson and Carlos Hyde combined for 27 carries, 142 yards and a 5-yard Carson touchdown run, and the defense held the Jets to just three points and 185 yards of total offense in the rout.
Seattle benefitted from three missed field goals from Jets kicker Sergio Castillo. Nevertheless, a Seattle defense that was on pace to allow the most passing yards in league history through the midway point of the season has rounded into form and is playing much more cohesive football.
The win over the Jets is Seattle's largest blowout win since a 58-0 victory over the Arizona Cardinals in 2012. It just barely surpassed the 35-point victory, 43-8, over the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII.
Here are the takeaways from the victory over the Jets.
-- The defense is no longer a liability and is instead performing quite well.
At the midway point of the season, the Seahawks defense was utterly horrendous. The unit was on pace to allow more passing yards than any team in NFL history by a gigantic margin.
The Seahawks allowed just three points and 185 total yards to the Jets, continuing a trend of greatly improved play over the last several weeks.
"You saw another day of the defense coming out here. This is us getting going now, and it's it's pretty clear that we've made a big turn," Carroll said.
The Seahawks had allowed 1,292 passing yards through the first three weeks of the season. That was 161 yards more than the next closest team over the same span. After the loss to the Buffalo Bills? This is where the defense was at that point in the year:
The 44 points allowed to the Bills on Sunday is the most ever in the Pete Carroll era and the most overall since a 48-10 loss to the Green Bay Packers in 2009. The Seahawks are allowing 362.1 passing yards per game. The 2,897 yards allowed through eight games is more than 300 yards worse than the closest prior to this season as the 2002 Kansas City Chiefs had allowed 2,589 yards through this point in the season.
So exactly halfway through the season, double the total and you get 5,794 passing yards on pace for the full season. How bad is that? No defense in NFL history has ever allowed more than 5,000 passing yards in a year. The 2011 Green Bay Packers allowed 4,796 yards. The Seahawks are pace to be nearly 1,000 yards worse than that mark.
The defense has made major strides since that mark. Over the last five games, the Seahawks are allowing an average of just 202 passing yards a game in contests against the Los Angeles Rams, Arizona Cardinals, Philadelphia Eagles, Giants and Jets. While they are now on a full season pace to allow 4,914 passing yards for the season, which would still be enough to set a new record for worst unit in league history, their recent pace would spare them that distinction. The defense has put together four straight games with fewer than 270 passing yards with the last two games featuring just 105 yards to the Giants and 113 yards to the Jets.
"Throughout the whole year we knew we had talent," safety Jamal Adams said. "And we knew we just had to put it together. We had to communicate. We had to execute as a team, as a unit. We knew once we did that we could be special. And we're only getting better man. As long as we continue to practice our tail off and continue to listen to coaching, continue to feed off one another, bring the energy, bring the juice, play with confidence, play with swagger, man, we can be really, really special. And I think we're hitting our stride at the right time."
If they can keep that pace over the final three weeks in games against Washington, the Rams and San Francisco 49ers, they will come in nearly 200 yards under the Packers record from 2011.
In addition to the passing game success, the team isn't allowing points either. The Seahawks were allowing 30.3 points per game through the loss to Buffalo. They've posted their best scoring outputs in five straight games since. They allowed 23 points to the Rams, 21 to the Cardinals, 17 to the Eagles and Giants, and then 3 to the Jets. They've averaged 16.2 points per game allowed over that span and it's cut their season average to 25.4 points per game allowed.
"It was rough in the beginning. It was rough," linebacker K.J. Wright said. "We all felt it and we got it corrected. Hats off to coach Carroll for his leadership in addressing it and coach Norton addressing things and just putting us in position to be successful."
Even without Carlos Dunlap in the lineup on Sunday, the Seahawks added three more sacks to their season total. They've recorded at least three sacks in six of their last seven games played dating back to their win over the 49ers in October. A unit that had just nine sacks through the first six games is up to 36 sacks now through 13 games, which is tied with the Denver Broncos and New Orleans Saints for seventh in the NFL.
"There's a lot of guys that are really playing like crazy together and you can see it happening," Carroll said. "Just throw the weeks together. A few sacks again today. Good pass defense. Really should have had four turnovers today. We really had the ball in our hands. But I'm just really fired up that at this time of year, we're playing our best football and it's gonna make a difference if we're gonna have a chance to do something special this year. It's going to be because the defense has really turned it around and put us in this kind of position. We know that we can score points. We know we can do that on offense but to put this together like this is really a big deal to us."
-- Jamal Adams sets record for most sacks by a defensive back in a single season.
With a 1-yard sack of Sam Darnold in the second quarter, safety Jamal Adams surpassed Adrian Wilson for the most sacks in a single season ever by a defensive back.
The sack gave Adams 8.5 on the season, which passed Wilson's 8.0 sacks that he had with the Arizona Cardinals in 2005.
"We don't give game balls around here. We just don't. Haven't done that. We do other things but we don't do that. But today, with the record that that Jamal Adams set it with being the all-time ever sacker as a defensive back it was just worthy of a game ball to commemorate it," Carroll said. What a fantastic football player. He's just an incredible player and I mean he's not done yet. He's gonna get some more numbers before the season's over."
Adams had mentioned on Friday that it would mean something to him if he could break the record against his former team.
"I'm excited, man," Adams said after the game. "It really hasn't hit me yet that I broke it. I'm trying to shatter it to be real with you, man. So this is just a start. It's not the finish line, man. The marathon continues."
Adams said that he had a Warren Sapp sack dance planned for when he broke the record. However, the way the sack came left him unaware it had even happened. The sack didn't come by wrapping up the quarterback in the backfield. Instead, Adams came charging forward to force Darnold to duck out of bounds for a loss of a yard when the tried to scramble.
"I did not know," he said. "That's the crazy part. I'll be honest, man, like I was going to do the Warren Sapp dance, all right, just to break the record."
The only thing Adams wasn't happy about from Sunday was the fact that he dropped an easy interception from Sam Darnold in the first quarter that was thrown directly to him.
"Dropping a pick... Golly... I suck. That was horrible," he lamented.
-- Offensive line depth at tackle could be a serious issue for Seattle amid injuries.
Starting right tackle Brandon Shell re-injured his ankle in the second quarter of the win over the Jets and did not return to the game. Shell had missed the previous two games against the Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants because of a high-ankle sprain. He managed to get back on the field to face his former team but couldn't make it through the half before departing.
That forced Seattle to turn to its fourth-string option at the position for a second-straight game.
Cedric Ogbuehi was inactive again after injuring his calf in practice at the end of last week ahead of the game against the Giants. Jamarco Jones started last week's game in place of Shell and Ogbuehi only to be sidelined himself with a hip/pelvis injury in the contest. That's what has forced the Seahawks to turn to Wheeler in consecutive games.
Shell's ankle injury will leave his status for next weekend's contest with the Washington Football Team in doubt. With an impressive pass rush group including rookie standout Chase Young. That could prove to be a very significant concern.
"He tweaked it a couple times and then it was just one too many times," Carroll said. "It was really, really studly of him just to go out and play. It's going to be a touch-and-go week. I don't know what's going to happen this weekend, next weekend coming up. But I was really proud of him. He really wanted to play in this game. He's got a smile on his face today but he's gonna be pretty sore tomorrow."
Shell exited the game in the second quarter and made an early trip into the locker room before the half ended.
With Shell, Ogbuehi and Jones all dealing with injuries, Wheeler may get the nod to start against Washington. If Wheeler is starting, they'll also need a backup with practice squad tackle Tommy Champion being the only realistic option. Champion is a rookie undrafted free agent out of Mississippi State.
-- Russell Wilson sets a great franchise record and not-so-great personal record in victory.
It was a record-setting day for Russell Wilson.
Seattle's star quarterback set a franchise record for most touchdown passes in a single season with a 3-yard touchdown pass to David Moore in the third quarter. The touchdown gave Wilson 36 on the year, which surpassed his own mark of 35 touchdowns in 2018 as the most in Seahawks franchise history.
"We really are kicking into this fourth quarter thing here and we want to play great football right now as we finish the season off and he needs to do his part just as everybody does. And I'm so I'm really glad that he was able to have a day like that," Carroll said of Wilson's four touchdowns.
Much like Brett Favre, Wilson set a record on the other side of the ledger as well. With Marcus Maye intercepting Wilson on a first quarter pass for DK Metcalf, Wilson set a personal record for the most interceptions he's ever thrown in a single campaign with 12. Wilson had previously thrown 11 interceptions twice in a season, in both 2016 and 2017.
"I don't really worry about the scrutiny," Wilson said after bouncing back from a loss to the GIants. "I think more than anything else it's part of the job I guess, right. When you want to be the best in the world, if you don't have the best day, people are going to say you're not the best in the world that day. so it's part of the process. I think you just keep believing, you keep striving for greatness, keep striving for making the next shot, the next moment, the next play, the next game, the next win and stay simple minded in that sense.
Wilson then took the bench for the final quarter of the game as Geno Smith became the first quarterback to get a snap for Seattle other than Wilson since 2017. Wilson came out in favor of Austin Davis in Seattle's 42-7 loss to the Los Angeles Rams in December of that season. Smith had not seen the field in the regular season during his two years in Seattle until Sunday.
"Russ was great about it and Geno was thrilled to have a chance to play as all the guys were. Geno's a good ballplayer," Carroll said.
Photo Credit: SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - DECEMBER 13: Will Dissly #89 of the Seattle Seahawks dives in the end zone to score a 10 yard touchdown against the New York Jets in the game at Lumen Field on December 13, 2020 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)