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EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ—The Seahawks struggled to turn statistical dominance into points in the first half of Sunday’s game against the New York Giants, but after a slow start caused mostly by self-inflicted wounds, the Seahawks took over in the second half on the way to a 24-7 victory that improved their record to 4-2.
Here are five rapid reactions to the Seahawks second straight road victory:
1. The defense was outstanding once again.
Prior to their bye, the Seahawks held a high-scoring Los Angeles offense to just 10 points, and on Sunday the defense picked up where it left off, dominating the Giants throughout the game. The Giants managed just 42 yards in the first half, and finished with 177 yards and only 14 first downs. Seattle very well might have pitched a shutout if not for the Giants getting a short field thanks to a turnover, allowing Eli Manning to have a short field, which he turned into a two-play touchdown drive.
The Seahawks got contributions from all over, and most importantly they kept the Giants, who want to run the ball due to injuries at receiver, to just 46 yards on the ground.
One interesting wrinkle the Seahawks used Sunday was an increase in three-safety sets, with Bradley McDougald playing extensively, usually to cover speedy Giants tight end Evan Engram. Engram still had some success, catching six passes for 60 yards and a touchdown, but McDougald also held his own in that battle, making a pair of stops on third down to force punts.
2. It was a strange day for the offense.
The Seahawks offense produced 10 explosive plays (runs of 12-plus yards or passes of 16-plus), they finished with 425 yards and 26 first downs, yet they also struggled to score points until the second half, managing only a single field goal late in the second quarter.
Because of a turnover and a trip to the red zone that produced no points—the Seahawks went for it on fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line and failed to convert—they trailed in the first half despite dominating the Giants in yards and time of possession. There were a number of factors at play in limiting Seattle’s scoring. Penalties set back a couple of drives, as did dropped passes. And while Russell Wilson played very well overall—completing 27 of 39 passes for 334 yards, three touchdowns and a 121.1 passer rating—he did overthrow a pair of deep balls that likely would have otherwise been touchdowns.
3. Doug Baldwin came through big again.
While the offense as a whole had some consistency issues, Doug Baldwin was again on top of his game throughout, catching nine passes for 92 yards and a touchdown. And as mentioned above, Baldwin could have had another long touchdown pass had a throw from Wilson been a couple yards shorter.
And as always, Baldwin was Wilson’s go-to on third down, playing a big role in Seattle converting 6 of 13 third-down attempts.
4. Special teams were a big factor.
The Seahawks added D.J. Alexander in a trade this summer primarily because of what he could do on special teams, but his Seahawks career got off to a quiet start because of a knee injury. Alexander is healthy now, and made a huge play Sunday when he deflected a punt, setting up a short field for the offense. And while the offense didn’t convert on that drive, Jon Ryan pinned the Giants deep with a punt, and after another defensive stop, the offense got another short field, which it turned into a touchdown.
Ryan had a very good game to help the Seahawks win the field-position battle, with all five of his punts pinning the Giants inside of the 20. Both Neiko Thorpe and Justin Coleman had tackles in punt coverage to help a strong overall special teams effort.
5. Jarran Reed had one of his best games as a pro.
Defensive tackle Jarran Reed, a second-round pick in last year’s draft, has been a solid player throughout his Seahawks career. But the nature of his position means he doesn’t always stand out on the stat sheet, even when he plays well. That changed for Reed Sunday, however, as he finished with seven tackles, including two for a loss. Most notably, Reed sacked Manning in the fourth quarter, forcing a fumble recovered by Frank Clark. One play later, the Seahawks scored on a Wilson pass to Paul Richardson, giving Seattle some breathing room.