Seahawks vs. Raiders – Instant Analysis

Win or lose, there is much to learn after each game. What happened on the key plays that turned the game? How did the team fare in individual matchups? Who, if anyone, was injured and how did his replacement(s) fare? These are just of the questions greater Seattle-area resident and football scout Rob Rang will tackle post-game each week for SeahawkFootball.com.

10. Splashy plays from Richard Sherman and Bruce Irvin certainly deserve acknowledgement but the defensive player of the game for Seattle may have been K.J. Wright. His awareness and athleticism back at his customary outside linebacker position was obvious. Wright was in on an awful lot of tackles, coming up quickly in run support and showing agility and good hand-eye coordination to break up a few passes, as well.

9. Bruce Irvin’s incredible interception and return for a touchdown was the play of the game. I’ve been critical of Irvin’s awareness and ball-skills in the past but his 35-yard tip, pick and score was a phenomenal play. Irvin showed improved awareness to tip pass in the first place and the coordination and balance to twirl locate and catch it was a pretty extraordinary athletic feat. Of course, once he secured the ball, Irvin showed his real dynamic athleticism, flashing the 4.41 second 40-yard dash speed to score the touchdown.

8. Carr’s two interceptions of the first half undeniably put Oakland in a hole but it was easy to see why Oakland officials are excited about the rookie. As noted for CBS color commentator Rich Gannon on the telecast, Carr did a terrific job of completing passes from different arm slots. Carr has a snappy over-the-top release with which he completes most passes but in much the same way that Matt Hasselbeck used to do in Century Link, Carr showed the ability to drop his delivery and side-arm passes around defenders.

7. Carr’s mistakes will get most of the post-game attention but it was immature play from several of Oakland’s other young players that contributed to the loss. Last year’s surprise early first round pick D.J. Hayden had two big penalties, including a pass interference that put Seattle in scoring position on their first drive of the game. He also dropped two potential interceptions, including one he may have taken for a pick-six. Rookie nose guard Kendrick Ellis’ face mask penalty a play later only improved Seattle’s chances of scoring. Finally, while fellow rookie cornerback T.J. Carrie performed pretty well in coverage, his fumbled kickoff in the second quarter gave Seattle the ball in scoring position yet again.

6. Of all of the players who were asked to step up and play due to injury, perhaps the most impressive performance came from DeShawn Shead. While not the explosive downhill hitter that has made Kam Chancellor so respected, Shead showed impressive fluidity and speed in coverage. He was in particularly nice coverage on a deep ball up the left sideline on Oakland’s second drive of the game. Carr was forced to throw the ball deeper than he’d like because Shead closely trailed his intended target, leaving a very limited area for the rookie to drop it in.

5. As impressive as Shead was, of course, Richard Sherman was even better on two attempted fades down the right sideline. In the first quarter, Sherman turned to locate the ball at the last second, getting his hand up to flick the ball away to force a three and out. Carr tried it again in the second quarter and, of course, the All-Pro corner intercepted his first pass of the season.

4. The Seahawks continue to find creative ways to get second-year tight end Luke Willson the football, but the club isn’t getting much production for their efforts. Whether an inaccurate throw or a drop (both were again culprits), the Seahawks just can’t seem to get Wilson and Willson on the same page. Willson’s one catch Sunday was a big one – a 16-yard catch and run to convert a 3rd and 8 in the second quarter – but he was targeted at least five times. Of course, Cooper Helfet was even less impressive on the one opportunity he had to touch the ball, as Oakland’s desperate onside kick went through his hands.

3. Though Wright and Shead played well, the Seahawks continue to be victimized by opponents’ tight ends. Mychal Rivera continued the season-long struggles against tight ends in the red zone, catching a game-high eight passes for 38 yards and two scores. The Seahawks have now allowed nine touchdowns to tight ends in eight games.

2. Oakland’s turnovers and therefore conservative play-calling certainly helped, but Seattle’s backups along the offensive line fared reasonably well. Alvin Bailey, in particular, deserves a tip of the cap for holding up at left tackle with Russell Okung sidelined with injury. Bailey doesn’t possess elite feet but he’s so big (6-3, 320) and disproportionately long (34 ¾” arms) that he was usually successful in protecting Wilson’s blindside. Center Patrick Lewis was noticeably challenged by Ellis (whose quickness I highlighted in the Three Key Matchups) early in this contest and he ultimately was replaced by Steve Schilling. The Seahawks would be fortunate to get Unger back as the injury to left guard James Carpenter forced Seattle to slide Garry Gilliam inside. Gilliam, an undrafted rookie, spent most of his time at Penn State playing tight end before switching to offensive tackle his final year. The Seahawks are very intrigued by Gilliam’s combination of size (6-6, 306 pounds) and athleticism but he’s still learning the nuances of the position. His high pad level and lack of functional strength were repeatedly exposed by veteran Antonio Smith as the game wore on. It also appeared to be Gilliam (No. 79) that drew at least one of the two fourth quarter flags for illegal man downfield.

1. Of Seattle’s 326 total yards, 239 of it came via runs and short passes to running backs Lynch, Robert Turbin and Christine Michael and scrambles from Wilson. Seattle’s receivers accounted for just 73 yards in this contest. This is likely to draw criticism by some, but Seattle’s early lead, new faces along the offensive line, steady weather and the home crowd were likely all factors influencing Darrell Bevell’s play-calling against the Raiders. Ugly wins count as much as the pretty ones in the standings.


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