I scrutinized over the Seattle Seahawks supremely impressive 33-10 blowout victory over the Atlanta Falcons yesterday afternoon, and below are several nuggets that were noteworthy enough to share. The Seahawks were dominant, and it’s interesting to take a look at just how much they dominated and what it means going forward for both teams.
1. Matt Ryan received extremely little help from his teammates in yesterday’s game, and it was disgraceful watching how poor his pass protection was. It seemed like Ryan was hurried on just about every throw, and the Falcons had to resort to screen passes to running backs in order to attempt to move the ball upfield. In fact, running backs Jason Snelling, Jacquizz Rodgers, and Steven Jackson combined for 11 receptions in the loss, as Ryan spent much of the afternoon on the run and throwing it off of his back foot. The vast majority of the blame for the pressure has to be shouldered by the offensive tackles, because the middle of Ryan’s pocket was usually clean. The pocket simply collapsed from the outside, forcing Ryan to run the ball up the middle on a few occasions. We were reminded yesterday that Ryan is more athletic than many of us think. The fact that the Seahawks had just two sacks is credit to Ryan’s ability to avoid the rush, because he was under pressure far too often behind an awful offensive line; if he took more hits, he could have been injured or made this game look even worse for Atlanta.
2. It’s almost a miracle that Ryan came away without an interception and somehow completed 63.9% of his passes in this one. It’s just a testament to his borderline elite ability, and the only negative marks that Ryan gets from me is his decision-making at times. There were a few bad overthrows and a few instances in which he passed over open receivers. But there were rarely open receivers, and that credit definitely goes to the Legion of Boom.
3. The Seattle Seahawks definitely have one of the NFL’s best secondaries, and they were simply incredible on Sunday. Richard Sherman backed up the talk by shutting down Roddy White, who clearly looked hobbled in his first game back from ankle and hamstring ailments (he hadn’t played since Week 5). White had just one catch, and that 20-yard pick-up was due to a bad playcall from the Seahawks. They left the middle of the field wide open, and all White had to do was a run a slant underneath the coverage from the safeties (he was lined up in the slot on that play).
Sherman shutting down White doesn’t come as a surprise, since he was in man coverage and was facing an injured receiver. But the player who impressed by the most in the Seahawks secondary was Kam Chancellor. Hall of Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez could have had a big day, but the Seahawks decided to directly match up Chancellor on Gonzalez. In this one-on-one battle between the safety and tight end, Chancellor won quite handily, and this was one of the biggest matchups of the game. Gonzalez was held to just 29 receiving yards (Ryan averaged under six yards per attempt when throwing it to Gonzalez, who was rarely open against the physical strong safety). Shout out to Walter Thurmond as well, and you can read more about his performance here.
4. At 9-1, the Seattle Seahawks are only going to get even better and are an extremely scary team to contend with right now. That’s because the line will get a massive boost once Russell Okung comes back, and that will be huge for both Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch. Percy Harvin‘s return will further boost the passing attack, which was at its best against an awful Atlanta Falcons secondary.
5. Golden Tate impressed me right from the get-go, as he was making huge plays all afternoon long as both a receiver and a punt returner. In the first quarter, Tate made a big catch after a perfectly executed double-move to easily beat veteran corner Asante Samuel. From there, it was an easy pitch-and-catch play for Russell Wilson. Tate couldn’t keep his feet in bounds on what would have been an extremely athletic catch down the right sideline, but he did get his feet in bounds on a six-yard touchdown reception that will go down as one of the plays of the season. Tate made a Randy Moss-esque TD reception in the left corner of the end zone, as he hauled in the pass with his left arm and nimbly kept both feet in bounds. It was also an excellent throw from Wilson, who put the ball only where Tate could get it (he also had to evade the rush on that one).