Officially winners in four of their past five games, coach Pete Carroll knows his red-hot Seattle Seahawks won’t be sneaking up on anyone moving forward.
As Carroll elaborated following Sunday’s commanding 28-14 win over the Lions, that’s exactly how he prefers it.
“It’s really clear — there’s no mystery how we’re trying to get it done…” Carroll said about Seattle’s winning blueprint. “And we’re not gonna fool anybody.”
Opponents know Seattle wants to run the football, win the turnover battle, and limit explosive plays in the passing game. But as seen once again on Sunday, players have bought back into Carroll’s formula, execution was on point in all three phases for Seahawks, and it didn’t matter that the Lions knew what was coming. They still couldn’t stop it.
For the fourth time this season, the Seahawks produced a 100-plus yard rusher, with lead running back Chris Carson eclipsing the mark for the third time in his past four games. Controlling the line of scrimmage throughout the contest, Seattle ran the ball 42 times, rushed for 130 more yards than their counterparts, and dominated time of possession, holding the football nearly 10 more minutes than Detroit.
Surpassing 170 rushing yards as a team for the second time in three weeks, Carroll was fired up about Seattle’s performance on the ground against a physical Detroit defense.
“We really were able to play right within the framework of how we want to do it.” Carroll said. “We want to get the football, we don’t want to give it up, and run the heck out of the football. … That’s just commitment and attitude and it’s what we’re trying to do.”
With the run game thriving, Russell Wilson continued to serve as the beacon of efficiency under center with outstanding protection in front of him, completing 14 out of 17 passes for 248 yards, three touchdowns, and zero interceptions. He set a career-high mark averaging 14.6 yards per pass attempt, exceeding his previous best from the 2014 season by nearly two full yards.
Lions coach Matt Patricia felt his team left some plays on the field, citing two heavily contested receptions in the end zone by receiver David Moore and tight end Ed Dickson, but credited the Seahawks for finishing when his players didn’t.
“No doubt there were some good contested plays out there,” Patricia said. “Unfortunately, we didn’t come up on the right side of it. They did. They out-finished those plays and came down with them and they were big for them and obviously not good for us.”
While Patricia struggled to find answers for slowing down Seattle’s balanced offensive attack, Carroll’s defense continued to play at an elite level, holding an opponent to 17 or less points for the third time this season.
Quarterback Matthew Stafford threw for 310 yards and two touchdowns, including a beautiful 39-yard strike to receiver Marvin Jones that snuck over the outstretched arms of safety Tedric Thompson. The Pro Bowl signal-caller had his moments as Carroll anticipated and tried to will his team back into the game with another touchdown to Jones early in the fourth quarter.
But Seattle was able to weather the storm by successfully making the Lions one-dimensional, limiting rookie sensation Kerryon Johnson to 22 yards on eight carries and holding the team to 34 combined rushing yards. Like the run game offensively, Carroll stated the Seahawks didn’t do anything special and simply implemented their scheme to perfection.
Applauding the play of the entire Seahawks front seven, Carroll said “You can talk about all the other stuff that happened, but they (the Lions) rushed for 30 yards today on a team that wants to run the football and that’s a great job. It starts right there with (Jarran) Reed and Shamar (Stephen) and those guys up front. All the credit goes to them playing great, disciplined defense.”
With Johnson and Detroit’s rushing attack stifled, the Seahawks were able to focus on pressuring Stafford and found moderate success, sacking him four times during the game. When he wasn’t hitting the turf, Seattle made him uncomfortable and teed off on receivers going across the middle of the field on numerous occasions, including a few big hits by linebacker Bobby Wagner on former teammate Golden Tate.
Most importantly, Seattle continued its impressive run of creating takeaways, winning the turnover battle with two recovered fumbles, including a pivotal fumble in the second quarter by Lions kick returner Ameer Abdullah, as well as a decisive red-zone interception by cornerback Justin Coleman late in regulation to halt a potential scoring drive.
For the season, Seattle now sits atop league leaders with a plus-10 turnover margin. Carroll indicated the Seahawks are constantly challenging themselves in this department and coaxing the Lions into three turnovers while committing none themselves played a huge role in the final outcome against a very good football team.
“It’s a big accomplishment and it makes such a difference in the game…” Carroll said. “It’s hard to win when that happens for the other side.”
There are no secrets to decode to figure out why the Seahawks sit firmly in the NFC playoff picture after a rough start. The run game is clicking, the defense is producing takeaways in bunches, the pass rush is progressively improving, and the quarterback is playing at an MVP level with supreme protection in front of him.
As proven at Ford Field, this simple approach has transformed Seattle into a legitimate contender. As long as the Seahawks continue to execute Carroll’s formula, they’ll have a chance to win every game remaining on their schedule.