RENTON, Wash. (AP) — Pete Carroll cares about stats that accentuate two areas — ones that highlight that his defense is playing well and ones that show his team is excelling as the game progresses, especially in the fourth quarter.
Combine those two aspects, and you get a very happy Seattle Seahawks coach.
In the past four games, Seattle’s defense has allowed a total of nine second-half points and zero touchdowns.
That trend continued Sunday in Seattle’s 24-20 win over Cleveland where all the Browns could manage in the second half was a pair of field goals.
“That’s something we can continue to call on and rely on, and it makes you really hard to beat when you play like that in the second half,” Carroll said.
Seattle hasn’t been shutting down elite quarterbacks and offenses during this stretch. The Seahawks shut out Daniel Jones and the Giants, and Joshua Dobbs and Arizona in those victories. In Sunday’s win, the Seahawks did just enough to slow down P.J. Walker and Cleveland, including the key late interception that set up Seattle’s winning score.
The one performance that does stand out is the Week 6 loss to Cincinnati when the Seahawks held Joe Burrow and the Bengals to three points in the final 42 minutes of game time.
And Seattle’s defense appears it’ll only be getting better after the acquisition of New York Giants defensive tackle Leonard Williams on Monday for a pair of draft picks — the latest move in a remodel of the defensive front.
Seattle hasn’t always been the fastest starting team. But the Seahawks have managed to score points in the first quarter in all seven games this season and in the past four games have scored at least one touchdown in the first 15 minutes.
The capper to that run came against the Browns when the Seahawks scored 17 first-quarter points. The 17 points in the first quarter marked just the third time in Carroll’s tenure and only the 13th time in franchise history of scoring at least that many points in the first 15 minutes.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
Screen passes seem to be unsolvable for the Seahawks — both defending them and running them. Seattle has forever struggled to be a team that runs effective traditional screen passes with running backs to the point it’s rarely part of the offensive game plan.
But the Browns gashed Seattle with a series of creative screens to running backs and tight ends that took advantage of the defensive aggressiveness. Cleveland's first touchdown drive was four plays; three of them different screens that covered 71 yards. The Browns had seven pass plays of 18 or more yards; three of them were screens.
“We were not surprised one bit. We practiced them all week and they did it anyway, so I was really disappointed in that,” Carroll said.
It’s been a while since Jamal Adams has made a game-changing play as he did Sunday when his deflection — off his helmet — led to Julian Love’s interception and set the stage for the late touchdown pass from Geno Smith to Jaxon Smith-Njigba.
Adams, Love and Quandre Diggs seem to be figuring out how best to play off each other and allowing defensive coordinator Clint Hurtt to use the trio of safeties in different ways, both in coverage and bringing pressure.
“I think it’s a really good package when we’re all out there at the same time. Jamal does certain things well. (Quandre) does certain things well. I just feel like the glue,” Love said.
Running backs Kenneth Walker III and Zach Charbonnet combined to averaged 8.4 yards per carry, but ended up an afterthought in the offensive game plan. The pair had 13 total carries and only five in the second half. Seattle was happy with the pass protection it was getting against Cleveland’s rush, but also struggled to get any offensive possession time in the middle quarters. Giving Walker and Charbonnet more carries would have helped.
Carroll said there were no major injuries coming out of the victory. The Seahawks appear to be getting healthier, although there still remains the lingering question of right tackle Abraham Lucas and when he may be able to return after having treatment on his knee following Week 1 and landing on injured reserve.
19 — Veteran offensive lineman Jason Peters played 26 snaps at right tackle, splitting time with Stone Forsythe against the Browns. The 41-year-old veteran has now played in at least one game in 19 different seasons since his rookie year in 2004. Peters is one of five offensive linemen to play in at least 19 seasons, joining Lou Groza, Jackie Slater, Ray Brown and Bruce Matthews.
The Seahawks make their fourth trip to the Eastern Time Zone, traveling to Baltimore on Sunday in a matchup of division leaders. Seattle’s had issues with running quarterbacks previously, but Lamar Jackson has proven to be far more than just a runner. Seattle most recently played the Ravens in 2019.
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