DETROIT—Maybe it's time to stop being surprised by games like these for Geno Smith. When Seahawks coach Pete Carroll named Smith the team's starting quarterback in August, he made it clear that he and everyone else on the team had the utmost confidence in the veteran quarterback, even if Smith hadn't been a regular starter since 2014.
Then, given the long overdue chance to start, Smith went out and played great in a season-opening win over the Broncos. Smith and the entire offense took a step back against a really good 49ers defense, but in Week 3, he was sharp and explosive again. On Sunday in Detroit, Smith put forth his best performance yet, throwing for 325 yards and a pair of scores while rushing for 49 yards and a touchdown in a 48-45 win over the Lions.
"(Shoot), he's been on fire all year," said receiver DK Metcalf, who had a season-high 149 yards on seven catches. "He keeps building, keeps getting better week by week, and our chemistry keeps growing, and we're finally building an identity for ourselves."
Smith completed 23 of 30 attempts on Sunday, and through four games he has completed 77.3 percent of his passes. If that number sounds unusually high, well, that's because it is. It is, in fact, the highest passer rating through a player's first four games (minimum 125 attempts) in NFL history. Smith also joined Tom Brady (2007) and Derek Carr (2020) as the only quarterbacks since 1950 to complete 70 percent of their passes in each of their first four games.
"Geno played some spectacular football," Carroll said. "Spectacular football. Not just the throwing and the catching, but the command of the game and running the whole show. He did an incredible job, and he ran the ball, too, for 50 yards or something. Fantastic day, I don't know how you could do a whole lot more, play a whole lot better than that."
With the offensive line giving him time to work—Smith wasn't sacked and was hit only three times—and with weapons like DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett and Will Dissly making plays, and with Rashaad Penny having a monstrous second half, Smith was able to lead what was one of the Seahawks best offensive performances in recent memory. And while no one realistically could have predicted a completion percentage flirting with 80 through four games, for the most part Smith has been exactly who the Seahawks expected him to be when he won the starting job.
"He played pretty good football, man," Carroll said. "I'm just thrilled for him and for our guys that he's had this kind of early success to jumpstart this season and show us that we can play really good football with him at the helm. He's just been so rock steady throughout this whole process, and then he's playing and doing it, taking it on the road. There's a moment in this game when the crowd was as loud as it could have possibly been for that day, and he had to do something at the line of scrimmage, and he got it done. Everybody executed, and we really cashed in in a huge way. There's a few of those in the day, but there was moment in there that he's totally in command of the whole thing, and he had to communicate to everybody, and everybody ran the play right, and we really took advantage of that op, so. We could talk about a lot of stuff that they pulled off today. That was really, really good."
When Carroll was asked if Smith could possibly be playing better four games into the season, he didn't take the bait, noting that the Seahawks have lost two games, meaning everyone, the quarterback included, could have done more to help Seattle win. Smith too isn't buying into the notion that he is playing at some insane level that is beyond what is realistic for him.
"I can play better," he said. "I have not exceeded my expectations. I can play a lot better."
Smith and the offense's big game was all the more impressive because the Seahawks needed just about every one of those points and yards to hold off the Lions, who were able to match Seattle nearly score for score. The Seahawks went 9 for 12 on third down, gained a season-high 555 yards, had 27 first downs, and averaged 8.8 yards per play.
In addition to the aforementioned standout performance by the line, the Seahawks also got huge games from Metcalf, who had a season-best 149 yards, including a 55-yarder that set up a short touchdown pass to Noah Fant, and from Rashaad Penny, who rushed for 151 yards and two long touchdowns, both of which came on third downs, including a 36-yard score on third-and-16.
"This was a day that the offense was such a highlight in the day," Carroll said. "They scored the first four times we had the ball. We were executing. We were knocking out third downs. We were running the football really well today really for the first time, what really felt like we had it rolling."
And one of the most important parts of the big offensive performance, Smith noted, was that it took place over the first four quarters, unlike strong performances in the first halves against Denver and Atlanta that were followed by less productive second halves.
"One thing we talked about all week is we had been starting fast, but not finishing strong," Smith said. "We really talked about finishing strong today. Hats off to their defense, they did a great job of mixing the looks, giving us a bunch of great challenging looks. But overall, I think we handled it well with the crowd noise. Our communication was great. The line played awesome again. They're just continuing to be better and better every week, which is such a positive sign. Overall, our playmakers showed up. The running game showed up. I think we kept the penalties down for the most part. So, whenever you can do that and keep the chains moving, you're going to have a lot of yards and points."
The Seahawks face the Lions in Detroit for Week 4 of the season at Ford Field on October 2, 2022. Game action photos are presented by Washington's Lottery.