Here’s how the Seattle Seahawks grade out in their 27-20 victory over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium:
The Seahawks’ run game was unstoppable in the first half, as both Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny imposed their wills on the Falcons. Seattle finished the game with 151 yards on the ground. Quarterback Russell Wilson, after struggling a week ago, was back to his efficient self with two touchdown passes, no interceptions and a 131.7 passer rating — and he led an important fourth-quarter drive that ate up nearly seven minutes and resulted in a much-needed field goal. But the offense was ultra-conservative in the second half, particularly when going three-and-out on its first two drives, and that gave the Falcons a chance to get back in the game.
On the positive side, the Seahawks had three takeaways, none more important than early in the fourth quarter when rookie safety Marquise Blair knocked the ball out of Devonta Freeman’s hand at the goal line. Linebacker Bobby Wagner scooped up the fumble just as the Falcons were threatening to make it a one-score game. But the defense allowed 512 yards, including 460 passing yards by backup quarterback Matt Schaub, surrendered 30 first downs, and if Atlanta had recovered an onside kick at the end, few would have bet against the Falcons driving for the tying score.
This was a perfect performance by Seattle’s special teams. Kicker Jason Myers finally found the range from long distance, drilling a 54-yard field goal to temporarily stunt Atlanta’s second-half momentum. Michael Dickson was back to booming punts the way he did last season, and he was supported by excellent coverage that allowed just eight yards on three returns. And when the Seahawks needed to secure two onside kicks at the end, there was no drama.
The coaches got everything right in the first half, sticking with an effective run game while mixing in creative plays on offense, then dialing up the blitz at opportune times on defense. But Seattle sat on its 24-0 lead as the team got conservative with its play calls on both sides of the ball. The biggest issue, however, is that the entire team — both the offense and the defense — came out flat to start the second half, as if the game had already been won, and that’s on the coaches.
If one were grading the Seahawks by halves, the first half would be an A and the second half would be an F. Any road win in the NFL shouldn’t be dismissed, even against a team that’s 1-6, and the Seahawks have to be happy with completing the first half of the season 6-2. But Seahawks coach Pete Carroll harps on the fact that it’s not about how a team starts, but how it finishes. If that’s truly the case, then this was not a good look for Seattle.