Following a tough loss in Cincinnati, the Seattle Seahawks returned home to Lumen Field to host their second NFC West matchup.
Week seven was the first of two meetings between the Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals — in what I considered a must-win game for Seattle.
To put it into perspective, a win over the Cardinals would boost Seattle’s playoff chances to 59%, while a loss would drop its chances down to just 31%.
With key injuries to DK Metcalf, Zach Charbonnet, Evan Brown and Phil Haynes, the task against 1-5 Arizona was not to be overlooked.
And in this must-win game, Seattle comfortably handled business in a 20-10 victory highlighted by a second-half shutout.
Perhaps the most notable takeaway from these last few weeks is this: The more this defense gets healthy and the more in-game reps they get, the better they become.
I have mentioned him in almost every single one of my columns, but Devon Witherspoon is reviving the energy, the swagger and the physicality that Seahawks fans miss from the Legion of Boom era.
Witherspoon had yet another sensational game and would have had an interception and a sack if two penalties hadn’t wiped them out. He is now the NFL’s highest-graded cornerback at 88.5, according to PFF.
Outside of an 80-yard touchdown drive assisted by a weak roughing-the-pass call, the Seahawks held every other Cardinal drive to under 27 yards. Given how it’s been playing, Seattle is starting to reenter the conversation of the league’s best defense.
The performance of Pete Carroll’s defensive unit has been day and night between the first three and last three games.
In the past three games, the Seahawks defense held opponents to just 10 points and 236.7 yards per game, while giving up only 20.9 yards and 0.9 points per drive. That is a massive improvement from Seattle’s first three games, where opponents were scoring an average of 29.3 points on 407.3 yards per game.
Though Witherspoon deserves all the hype, I must also credit his defensive counterparts who don’t get the credit they deserve: Jordyn Brooks, Boye Mafe and Jarran Reed.
Brooks is arguably looking better than he ever has. He is starting to look like his Texas Tech self once again — a sideline-to-sideline linebacker who makes explosive plays in the backfield. I hope the Seahawks find a way to bring him back next season.
Mafe has been the unsung hero on the defense, tied for leading the team in both sacks and tackles for loss.
Jarren Reed returned to Seattle for his second stint with the team and has ultimately revived his career. Reed, who was initially drafted as a run-stuffer, has developed his pass rush and is now one of the reasons why the Seahawks are fifth in the league for most sacks with 23.
As for the offense, it’s been performing better than expected given the circumstances.
A game without multiple starting offensive linemen, your wide receiver one and your backup running back would be a recipe for disaster — but not for Geno Smith’s offense.
We finally got to witness Jaxon Smith-Njigba have his breakout game, rallying in four catches for 63 yards and his first NFL touchdown. I was so happy to see him being utilized down the field and in space.
Fellow rookie Jake Bobo nearly mirrored his numbers with four catches, 61 yards and one touchdown. Bobo’s 18-yard touchdown grab off of a perfect pass by Smith made for one of the best catches I have seen all season — going over the top of the defender, fading toward the sideline and managing to drag his second foot inbounds was remarkable.
Seattle moved up to 4-2 on the season behind Smith’s 219 yards and two touchdowns, and Kenneth Walker III’s season-high 105 rushing yards.
Week eight has Seattle hosting the 4-2 Cleveland Browns in a game where the Seahawks will debut their throwback uniforms.