Seahawks offense showing ability to close games in wins over Giants, Cardinals

GLENDALE, AZ – NOVEMBER 06: Kenneth Walker III #9 of the Seattle Seahawks runs in the third quarter of the game against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium on November 06, 2022 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)

Not only has the Seattle Seahawks offense shown that it can put up points consistently every week, they are now starting to show that they can be closer as well.

In wins over the New York Giants and Arizona Cardinals over the past two weeks, Seattle’s offense took control of the ball and provided timely touchdown drives that put games away. A five-play, 75-yard touchdown drive capped by a 33-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Lockett was the key to a 27-13 victory over the Giants a week ago. Then on Sunday, a 13-play, 81-yard march that ended with a 1-yard touchdown run by Ken Walker III served as the decisive blow.

Against the Cardinals, the Seahawks converted their last seven third-down opportunities as part of a pair of touchdown drives that took control of the game.

“To me, there’s nothing more impressive than finishing well,” head coach Pete Carroll said.

“We try to outlast our opponents. We try to outlive them by doing right; no mistakes, no nerves, no flinching at the line of scrimmage, no sloppy hands, making the right choices in his calls and just doing things exactly the way they need to be done under the ultimate duress of the final game. I just love to see our guys do it.”

That closing shot for Seattle started right after their biggest mistake of the day. Geno Smith was picked off by linebacker Zaven Collins, who returned the interception 30 yards for a touchdown that gave the Cardinals a 14–10 lead.

But Smith and the Seahawks responded in stride with three straight touchdown drives to put the game away.

“Everybody in the stadium knew the magnitude of those aspirations, and for us to go out there and get scores and get touchdowns, I think that shows you what type of team we are and what type of team we can be,” Smith said.

Seattle converted three straight third downs on its first drive. 5-yard pass to Will Disley on third-and-three. Lockett’s 12-yard run on third-and-12. A 3-yard pick-up by Walker on third-and-1 and a 9-yard touchdown pass to Lockett on third-and-6 gave the Seahawks a 17-14 lead.

A similar scenario followed after a hit in Arizona. Walker went for four yards on third-and-1, Smith scrambled for 18 yards on third-and-7, and Walker broke off a 12-yard run on third-and-2 before finding the end zone on a 1-yard plunge to make it a 24-14 game with remaining 7:32 to go.

“Our guys just took it and just took it to the next level of performance; it takes stamina, brains, preparation and everything else. There is nothing more amazing than that for me and our guys did a perfect job,” said Carroll.

Third downs overall may be one of the biggest differences from this year’s team to the 2021 edition in Seattle. Last season, the Seahawks converted just 36.4 percent of the time on third downs, which ranked them 27th in the NFL. This year, Seattle is converting 45.8 percent of third downs, which is fifth best in the league.

Smith is completing 69.4 percent of his third-down passes this season, with Seattle converting 29 first downs on 62 third-down attempts (46.8 percent conversion rate). Russell Wilson completed just 51.5 percent of his third-down passes last season and converted just 41 first downs on 103 third-down attempts (39.8 percent completion rate).

And just for comparison, Smith completed 68.2 percent of his passes on third down last year instead of Wilson. He converted eight first downs on 22 pass attempts (36.3 percent conversion rate).

“We know he’s going to do it, just give him a chance. What a bounce back,” Carroll said of Smith. “What a fantastic finish to this game. I think we converted seven straight third downs to end the game, and that’s great.”

Additionally, 78 of Walker’s 109 yards against the Cardinals came in the second half. That included 29 yards on four plays on Seattle’s final possession of the game as the Seahawks looked to run the remaining time off the clock.

“For him to be a rookie, those are the things that make the best running backs in this league,” Smith said of Walker. “He’s so healthy. He’s that good. It only scratches the surface. I can’t wait to just see him continue to grow because he’s leading this offense and this team right now. He makes it difficult to defend.”

These are the things that really good quarterbacks do when they have a chance to win a game in the fourth quarter. The offense as a whole has led the way through the first nine weeks of the season. Now they are showing that they can produce in the biggest moments too.

“That’s what we’re going for,” Carroll said. “If you want to be a really good team, you have to be able to do that consistently. So we have learned how to do this and we are learning how to do it. We really captured that yesterday and it was a real highlight of what we did that day.”

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