It was far from simple and it was far from easy, but the Seahawks opened the 2022 season with a statement win by beating Russell Wilson and the Denver Broncos 17-16.
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The key storyline before, during and after the game was the play of Wilson and the quarterback on the other side, Seattle starter Geno Smith, who was Wilson’s backup for three seasons.
While Smith’s red-hot start was extremely fun and notable, it was the Seahawks’ defense that won them that game, especially in the second half.
Wilson and the Broncos’ offense had little trouble marching down the field on Monday night, but they were unable to put as many points on the board as expected thanks largely to not one but two fumbles at the goal line.
Yes, Denver’s talented running back duo of Javonte Williams and Melvin Gordon each surrendered the ball at the goal line, resulting in no points on those back-to-back red zone visits in the third quarter and two electric moments for the Seahawks in front of a packed house at Lumen Field.
So what exactly did the Seahawks do so well at the goal line on a night where they allowed over five yards per carry on the ground? Former NFL quarterback Brock Howard broke it down during Tuesday morning’s Blue 88 segment on Brock and Salk on Seattle Sports 710 AM.
“Ooh, they played 11 in a glove,” Huard said.
Wait, what does that mean?
“You just add an extra finger to the 10, and it took all 11 of them to fit into the glove and play team defense,” Huard said.
Okay then. Moving on.
“The guys up front created penetration. They were stout,” Huard said. “There was not a missed assignment to be found down in the red zone, and especially inside the 10. And that’s where your walruses showed up, right?”
By “walruses,” Huard means the big, run-stuffing interior linemen. The trio of Poona Ford, new defensive captain “Big” Al Woods and Shelby Harris, who was traded from Denver to Seattle in the Wilson trade, really shined. And they did more than just take up space and fill gaps, Huard said.
“That’s where those guys were immovable forces. And not even immovable, they actually gained penetration,” Huard said. “And I thought guys set the edges phenomenally well, they pursued. Some of that speed came to life.”
With the Seahawks shifting from a 4-3 base defense to a 3-4 scheme, there’s been an added emphasis on team speed on both sides of the football. Even though much of winning in the red zone was because of work done up front by the big guys, Huard said the Seahawks’ speed on defense was apparent, as well.
“The game speeds up, everything happens a step faster in the red zone. And if you can be a step faster, you can get on those tackles where you can finish some of those tackles well and you can cover some of the things up,” he said.
Out of every phase of the game on Monday, Huard thought the Seahawks’ red zone defense was the team’s best unit.
“I just thought it was their best team ball where all 11 really were on assignment,” he said. “… Just from yesterday and watching last night, it felt like they honed in on the details in the red zone as well as they did anywhere else on the field.”
Listen to Tuesday’s Blue 88 at this link or in the player below.
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