An exciting home win over the Buffalo Bills caps off a frustrating but successful first-half go the 2016 NFL season for the Seattle Seahawks.
The Seattle Seahawks escaped with a 31-25 win over the Buffalo Bills on Monday Night Football. The defense faltered and the running game was nonexistent, but Russell Wilson, Jimmy Graham and Doug Baldwin delivered a nice win for Seattle.
Seattle’s defense has employed the “bend but don’t break” philosophy for long stretches this season. Injuries and the lack of offensive help has made things very difficult for Seattle’s defensive squad this season.
Tonight they weren’t so fortunate. The Bills scored on their first three possessions, and continued to have success moving the football throughout the game.
Seattle’s defense simply could not get off the field. The Bills picked up first down after first down all game. The Seahawks gave up 12 out of 17 third down conversions.
Luckily, the defense stiffened later in the fourth quarter. The forced a punt on Buffalo’s 2nd-to-last possession, and then stopped the Bills on 4th down at the end of the game.
I think we can all agree that it would have been nice if the defense had stepped up just a little bit sooner, but at least they did so when it mattered.
Nov 7, 2016; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) passes against the Buffalo Bills during the first quarter at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
2. Wilson and Lockett are healthy, and it mattered!
Russell Wilson is finally healthy for the first time since Week 1 against Miami. The ankle is better, the knee is better, and the pectoral is better. Having him healthy made all the difference tonight.
The Seahawks were able to open up the offense. More play-action. More roll-outs. More deep shots.
These are things that they haven’t been able to do the last few weeks. Wilson couldn’t move well enough for these slowly-developing plays, and the offense suffered. That wasn’t the case today and suddenly the offense exploded against a good Bills defense.
Similarly, Tyler Lockett appears to finally be back to full strength. He got loose on a deep shot early in the game, and that forced the Bills to move their safeties off the line.
Lockett also looked explosive in punt and kick returns. He had a big kick return in the first quarter. He also took a punt return down to the 18 yard line in the second quarter, though it was later ruled that he stepped on the sideline back at the 40.
The Seahawks have missed Lockett’s explosiveness, and nothing bad can come from him being back at full strength.
Nov 7, 2016; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks running back C.J. Prosise (22) picks up a first down as he is tackled by Buffalo Bills free safety Corey Graham (20) during the third quarter at CenturyLink Field. The Seahawks won 31-25. Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports
3. Seattle’s running game is still broken
Lost in the Russell Wilson-fueled offensive explosion was that Seattle’s rushing attack continued to be a complete non-factor. Thomas Rawls cannot get healthy fast enough.
Christine Michael finished with just 1 yard on 5 carries. When he couldn’t get things going, the team brought in CJ Prosise. His 3 carries for 9 yards didn’t provide the spark the Seahawks had hoped for.
As has been the case all season, the bulk of the problem was the run blocking. There simply weren’t any holes for the backs to run through, and the backs didn’t run through enough tackles to make the running game productive.
Getting Rawls and his physical-running style back will help, but it will only help so much. Unless this offensive line can get their act together, it’ll be up to Wilson and the passing game to carry the offense for the rest of the season.
Nov 7, 2016; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks free safety Earl Thomas (29) grabs the shirt of Buffalo Bills wide receiver Robert Woods (10) during the third quarter at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports
4. Jeremy Lane struggled
Seattle’s defense struggled to get off the field off the field on third down all game. In many of those conversions, it was Lane’s inability to cover Robert Woods that allowed Buffalo to convert. Woods had a career game. He finished with 10 catches for 162 yards. While not all of those were against Lane, most of them were.
The Seahawks don’t have depth at CB after their top 3. When Lane has an off-game, there’s simply no one on the bench who can come in and help.
Seattle’s margin for error at CB is very small. Their scheme puts a huge amount of pressure on the corners to step up and make plays. Normally they rise to the occasion, but that didn’t happen with Lane this week.
This is something the Seahawks have to make sure doesn’t happen next week. A repeat performance will lead to a blowout at the hands of Tom Brady and the Patriots.
Nov 7, 2016; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks free safety Earl Thomas (29) is embraced by fans after breaking up a pass play in the fourth quarter in a game against the Buffalo Bills at CenturyLink Field. The Seahawks won 31-25. Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports
5. A very important win
Tonight’s win pushed the Seahawks record to 5-2-1 at the midway point in their season. That gives Seattle’s a solid grip on the No. 3 seed in the playoffs and thus at least one home playoff game.
More importantly, this wins puts Seattle a full two games clear of the Arizona Cardinals in the NFC West. As long as the Seahawks take care of business against Arizona at home, There’s almost no way the Cardinals can catch the Seahawks.
While it is tough to put too much focus on the playoffs after only 8 games, this is an important cushion for the Seahawks to have. It’ll take time for the offensive line to fix their issues. It’ll be nice not to have the entire season riding on their ability to keep the Seahawks competitive every week.
For now though, this is a win that needs celebrating. The Bills are a tough opponent, and the Seahawks did what they had to do: win!