The Seahawks came away with a victory in Arizona on Thursday Night Football, but they suffered a major loss to their team. All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman suffered a ruptured Achilles in the victory and is done for the season. Sherman’s injury was one of several injuries for the Seahawks, but his was the most serious. Here are the biggest takeaways from Seattle’s 22-16 victory over the Cardinals.
Jimmy Graham and Russell Wilson have found their connection in redzone
Graham has scored six touchdowns in the last five games, including two last night against Arizona. All six of his touchdowns were in the redzone, and five of the six touchdowns were scored on goal line plays. During the early part of the season, it seemed like Wilson and Graham had a disconnect in the redzone, with Graham struggling to catch the Wilson fade passes. But over the past couple of weeks, Wilson has been throwing to Graham’s front shoulder, with a more direct pass instead of a fade. And with Graham’s success in the redzone over the past couple of weeks, it looks like the change has been very beneficial.
Having Graham and Wilson on the same page is huge for Seattle’s success in the redzone, as they have been unable to use their run game inside the 20 yard-line. This has forced them to throw the ball more often in the redzone. But with a target like Graham, throwing the ball in those situations will be Seattle’s best chances to score points.
Seattle shuts down Arizona’s offensive gameplan
With a potentially season-ending injury to Arizona’s starting quarterback Carson Palmer, the Cardinals were forced to start backup Drew Stanton against Seattle. In order to not force Stanton to throw too much against the vaunted Seattle secondary, Arizona has been running the wheels off Adrian Peterson. Peterson entered the Seattle game coming off a game in which he ran the ball 37 times, which was more rushing attempts than Stanton has passing attempts in the same game.
Arizona had the same gameplan against Seattle, but Peterson had zero success against the Seattle front seven. Peterson rushed for 29 yards on 21 attempts, with his longest carry being nine yards. Peterson also lost a fumble on the first play of the game. With Seattle shutting down the run, it forced Stanton to throw the ball. And for most of the game, the Arizona offense looked dead in the water. Arizona had 21 rushing yards on 13 carries entering halftime, but continued to try to use the run game in the second half, which slowed down the entire offense for the rest of the game. Arizona finished the game with 34 rushing yards on 24 attempts, and the ineffectiveness of the Arizona offense showed that they needed the run game to move the ball.
Penalties remain a problem for the Seahawks
For most of the year, penalties on the offensive side of the ball had cost Seattle scoring points. But against the Cardinals, it was the defensive penalties that cost Seattle points. Arizona’s first ten points came on drives that were extended by Seattle penalties. The Seattle defense had seven penalties, including two illegal hands to the face penalties, two pass interferences, and two personal fouls. The Seattle defense has an edge to them, and that edge may have refs more likely to call penalties against them, as The News Tribune’s Gregg Bell notes.
Me thinks we've gotten to the point #Seahawks' reputation precedes them with officiating crews and penalty calls
— Gregg Bell (@gbellseattle) November 10, 2017
In total, the Seahawks had 12 penalties for 108 yards against Arizona. This is their fourth straight game with double-digit penalties and over 100 yards in penalties. Seattle leads the league in penalties and penalty yardage, and that was the case before the penalties from last night. Head coach Pete Carroll needs to do something to discipline the players from committing penalties, especially ones that should not happen like offsides and false start penalties. There will come a time this season that the Seahawks will lose a must-win game because of penalties if they do not do something to fix the problem.