The Seahawks improved to 2-0 in preseason play with a 22-14 win over the Cowboys at Lumen Field Saturday night, a game that saw most of Seattle's starters play early in the game before giving way to the backups for most of the game.
Here are six rapid reactions to Saturday night's win:
1. Tre Brown made a statement.
By the second half, just about any player in serious contention for a starting role was a spectator in Saturday's game, but there was one exception for the Seahawks in cornerback Tre Brown.
Brown, who started the game at right cornerback—Riq Woolen is still working his way back to being game-ready and did not play—then later slid to left cornerback in place of Michael Jackson. With Woolen on his way back to take over at right corner, Jackson and Brown have been competing at left cornerback, with rookie Devon Witherspoon expected to factor in there as well when he returns from injury. And while Jackson has appeared to have the slight upper hand so far in training camp, Brown stated his case in a big way on Saturday night.
Brown won a starting job as a rookie before suffering a torn patellar tendon, and while he eventually made it back last season, he didn't feel he was fully back, and saw very limited playing time after returning. Perhaps because he missed so much time, Brown played nearly the entire game for the Seahawks on Saturday, and have several big moments, none bigger than a fourth-quarter interception at the goal line to preserve a three-point lead.
With Dallas driving for the potential go-ahead touchdown or tying field goal, Will Grier tried to find receiver Simi Fehoko, but Brown undercut the route to get a crucial takeaway, returning the ball 20 yards. It was the type of play that showed the type of instincts and ball skills that could get Brown on the field more in 2023.
Brown also had five total tackles, including a tackle for loss on which he recognized a short pass, broke on the ball and made a sure, open-field tackle.
2. Jaxon Smith-Njigba looks like the real deal.
Jaxon Smith-Njigba didn't get a ton of playing time on Saturday, but he made the most of his first-half snaps, catching three passes for a team-high 58 yards. The first-round pick did most of his damage on one play, hauling in a perfectly thrown ball from Drew Lock before taking it all the way to the 1-yard line for a 48-yard gain that set up a DeeJay Dallas touchdown run.
And while Smith-Njigba hasn't had a ton of playing time or catches in the offseason, everything he has done, from the route-running that seems to have him open on nearly every play, to the sure hands, to what he does after the catch, all serves to back up what he has shown throughout training camp, which is that he looks very much like a player who is going to help the Seahawks offense from Day 1.
3. Boye Mafe's impressive summer continues.
Boye Mafe played well in Seattle's preseason opener not long after Pete Carroll declared him the team's most improved player from last season to this year, and he may have been even better on Saturday night, making plays in the running game and as a pass rusher. Mafe had two passes defensed, including one swat that would have made Dikembe Mutombo proud, a pair of tackles to stop runs for short gains, and a quarterback hit.
And on a related note…
4. Seattle's outside linebacker depth is impressive.
While Mafe was the first-half standout, he wasn't the only outside linebacker making plays. Uchenna Nwosu, one of Seattle's best defensive players last year, played only on Seattle's first defensive series, but he helped collapse the pocket on a Jarran Reed sack that killed Dallas' opening drive. Tyreke Smith, who missed his rookie season with a hip injury, contributed seven tackles, including two tackle for loss, and also had fourth-down sack late in the fourth quarter to put the game on ice, while rookie Derick Hall added a sack and two quarterback hits. Add to that Darrell Taylor, who didn't play due to a shoulder injury, and the Seahawks have a very talented and deep group of edge players heading into this season.
5. Explosive plays powered the offense.
The Seahawks offense didn't start off great with most of their starters on the field, punting once and getting a field goal on their second possession before Geno Smith and most of the starters left the game. One reason for the slow start was that the Seahawks gained just one yard on four of their first five first-down plays, though the one other first-down play was a 29-yard run by Zach Charbonnet, which helped set up a 57-yard Jason Myers field goal. And that play helped highlight a trend for Seattle's offense on Saturday, with explosive plays leading to most of the offense.
As mentioned earlier, Seattle's first touchdown came right after a 48-yard Jaxon Smith-Njigba catch and run. The Seahawks also scored on drives featuring a 29-yard run by SaRodorick Thompson, and after receptions of 32 and 28 yards by Cody Thompson and Jake Bobo, respectively.
6. Drew Lock was dialed in.
Drew Lock had a solid performance in his preseason debut, and was even better on Saturday night, completing five of six attempts for 119 yards and a 118.8 passer rating. And it wasn't just that Lock was accurate, he was accurate on high-degree-of-difficulty throws, including the 48-yarder that hit Smith-Njigba in stride, and a 32-yard pass to Thompson on the sideline. He also showed elusiveness and creativity to avoid pressure, extend a play and find Noah Fant for a 21-yard gain.
Lock did leave the game in the second quarter after a low hit had him limping to finish what ended up being his final possession, but the fact that he finished that drive would seem to indicate it wasn't serious.
Check out some of the best action shots from Preseason Week 2 vs. the Dallas Cowboys at Lumen Field on August 19, 2023. Game action photos are presented by Washington's Lottery. This album will be updated throughout the game.