The Seattle Seahawks are back in first place in the NFC West after defeating the Arizona Cardinals, 28-21, at the newly-renamed Lumen Field in Seattle on “Thursday Night Football.” Seattle held the lead the entire time, but Kyler Murray and the Cardinals kept things uncomfortably close for much of those 60 minutes. Here are the standout good, bad, and ugly takeaways from the Seahawks’ seventh win of the season:
Carlos Dunlap: Acquiring Dunlap from the Bengals was a masterstroke from GM John Schneider, as the explosive defensive end has taken the Seahawks’ struggling pass rush to new heights since his arrival. Dunlap was an absolute terror in the backfield with three QB hits and two sacks, including the game-sealing takedown on 4th and 10 at Seattle’s 27. The consistent pressure he generated often threw Kyler Murray off of his game, forcing the Cardinals QB to either run for his life or throw the ball away for no gain. Dunlap should feast against the Eagles’ offensive line in 11 days’ time on “Monday Night Football.”
The defense: Seattle’s defensive unit looked like an entirely different squad on Thursday, holding Arizona’s potent offense to 317 yards (their second-lowest total of the season). The Cardinals’ running game was effectively shut down against a strong front seven, only accumulating 57 yards, while star receiver DeAndre Hopkins posted just 51 yards on five catches. The Seahawks set the tone from Arizona’s very first drive, forcing a quick three-and-out, and were able to repeat that performance on the Cards’ second drive. Seattle’s defensive line also forced a holding call in the end zone, leading to a rare safety (and Seahawks ball) with a four-point lead and 9:12 left in the fourth quarter.
Damien Lewis: This was an understandable performance from Lewis, who was forced to play at center for the first time in his life after backup center Kyle Fuller incurred a high ankle sprain last week. In many ways, he played impressively with just four days’ worth of practice at a brand new position; if we judge him as a center, however, he had an unfortunate night. Lewis gave up a sack on the very first play of the game, followed by a snap that bounced off of Russell Wilson’s hand on the next drive. Later in the first quarter, he was the victim of a weak holding call that negated a massive 42-yard gain for DK Metcalf, drew a false start penalty in the second quarter on “everyone but the center” by not snapping the ball on time, and committed another holding penalty in the third quarter. Most of Lewis’s snaps were right on target, however, which most would argue is the center’s main priority.
Injuries: Sadly, viewers have become accustomed to seeing players suffer injuries on “Thursday Night Football” due in part to a short rest period, and this game was no exception for the Seahawks. Defensive tackle Poona Ford, a major contributor in the trenches, missed a few plays in the second quarter following an apparent leg injury. Two players were carted into the locker room in the fourth quarter – TE Greg Olsen, who suffered a ruptured plantar fascia in his left foot, and RT Brandon Shell, who sprained his ankle on the next drive. RB Bo Scarbrough incurred a hamstring injury just six plays after Shell left the game, leaving the Seahawks even thinner at the position. Coach Pete Carroll said after the game that he doesn’t yet know the severity of any of the injuries (“we’ll see what happens”), but the team should be receiving reinforcements for their next game with the projected returns of RB Chris Carson and CB Shaquill Griffin.
Penalties: For most of the year, the Seahawks seemed to have cut down on the number of flags earned, but Thursday night’s eight penalties for 79 yards undoubtedly felt all too familiar to fans. Seattle incurred two 15-yard penalties in the first drive of the second half – a third-down personal foul on Quandre Diggs, who took DeAndre Hopkins to the ground after the ball had clearly left his vicinity, and Bobby Wagner’s horsecollar tackle on RB Chase Edmonds. Those 30 free yards were instrumental in the Cardinals’ subsequent touchdown, which shrunk Seattle’s lead to just two points. Although the Cardinals themselves received more penalties than the Seahawks (10 for 115 yards), the latter will need to get themselves in check lest they fall back into old habits.