In a matchup with two of the worst run defenses going up against two of the best rushing offenses, we got … almost the exact opposite when the Seahawks and Giants faced off. And advantage Seattle, which won the game over New York 27-13 in a battle of two of the biggest surprise teams of the 2022 season to get to 5-3.
The script for this one seemed clear. The Seahawks and their top 10 rushing attack would try and run on the Giants and their fifth-worst run defense. And on the flip side, the Giants’ second-ranked rushing offense would try and go after the Seahawks’ 29th-ranked run defense. Neither plan worked as well as hoped, though, with the game instead coming down to the pass game.
The Seahawks’ pass defense, like their run defense, came to play, making life hard for Giants quarterback Daniel Jones and limiting him to just a handful of notable gains through the air. On offense, Seattle got yet another solid start from QB Geno Smith in the win.
After the win, head coach Pete Carroll praised all three phases of the Seahawks’ game, which he said was critical in beating a team he holds in such high regard.
“This is one of those games when you’ve got so much respect for the other team and what they’ve been playing like and accomplishing … and that (Giants head coach Brian Daboll) has done such a great job with these guys, we held this this matchup in high regard. And to play that well across the board, all three phases were on it. Our effort was terrific and our hitting was great.”
Smith took a beating – he was hit 10 times and sacked three times – but he simply made enough plays through the air, finding his star receivers DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett for a touchdown each on top of some nice gains to work down the field and move the chains. Additionally, rookie Kenneth Walker III made the best run play of the day with a beautiful 16-yard touchdown run that likely made Marshawn Lynch proud. But the Seahawks only got 87 rushing yards on 25 carries.
Smith and the offense did some nice things overall, but this game was all about the Seahawks’ defense, which once again appears to have turned a corner after a slow start to the season.
It’s worth noting that the Giants entered Week 8 severely beat up on offense. They were without their starting left tackle and guard as well as their top tight end and a starting receiver. But they really did next to nothing against the Seahawks’ surging defense.
We’re just a few weeks removed from Seattle allowing a combined 77 points across two games in Detroit and New Orleans. But since then, the Seahawks have really made their mark on defense, allowing just three points to the Arizona Cardinals, 23 points to a dangerous L.A. Chargers team that scored their final touchdown with just a few minutes left while down three scores, and now 13 to a New York offense that has ran the ball as well as anyone with Saquon Barkley and Jones leading the way.
“The defense was great today. They played great football,” Carroll said. “This is a team that was rushing for 170-something (yards per game) with an incredible (running) back, and he doesn’t get going today and they don’t get going today. And it was all day long. It wasn’t in flashes, it was all day long. We played consistently hard and tough and solid and disciplined and strict, just like we needed to.”
The lone Giants touchdown was an absolute gift, with Lockett fumbling on Seattle’s 2-yard line and Barkley punching it in two plays later.
Outside of that, New York struggled mightily offensively, recording just two field goal drives after the Barkley score and going 6 for 16 on third down.
The Seahawks held the Giants to just 78 yards on the ground on 28 carries, or 2.8 per carry. Jones also had just 176 yards through the air and was sacked five times and hit eight times. All in all, the Giants had under 300 yards of offense despite entering the game averaging 334 yards per game.
Limiting Barkley to just 53 rushing yards really stood out to Carroll.
“We tackled really well. We played great scheme defense,” Carroll said. “You can (tell me beforehand that) he’s gonna average 2.7 (yards) a rush in a game, I would never have thought you could do that to the guy because I (hold him in) such high regard. But everybody had to contribute to do that.”
Seattle set the tone early, holding the Giants to just 46 net yards in the first half and the Barkley touchdown after the turnover. The Giants moved the ball better in the second half, but it still wasn’t much or enough to keep up with the Seahawks’ offense, which scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter.
Someone who shined yet again was linebacker Uchenna Nwosu, who signed with Seattle in free agency. Nwosu picked up two sacks on Sunday, giving him five on the year, tying his career high. He also played well in coverage, running step-for-step with Barkley down the sideline and forcing an incompletion.
“He’s leading us. In every aspect, he’s leading us,” Carroll said.
Next up for the first-place Seahawks? A road matchup in Arizona, who Seattle beat 19-9 a few weeks back. No one was picking the Seahawks to be in first place at this point of the season, and that’s something that’s not lost on Carroll.
“This is a very special opportunity right now, and it’s been because of all of the hype and the circumstances and all that and the challenge of it and the doubting and all that kind of stuff,” he said.
And as you’d expect, the longtime Seahawks head coach is having a blast.
“Are we having fun yet?” Carroll asked before ending his postgame press conference. “See ya!”