The Seahawks improved to 6-3 on Sunday in no small part of the way they were able to close out, especially on offense, with Geno Smith, Kenneth Walker III and company scoring three straight touchdowns to put the game away.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll called Walker a closer a week earlier for the way he finished off the win over the Giants with a touchdown, and the rookie running back was even better in Week 9, rushing for 62 of his 109 yards, as well as a pair of touchdowns, on Seattle's final two possessions.
A day later, Carroll talked more in-depth about what makes Walker so special, which leads our Xthings we learned from Carroll's Monday press conference:
1. Kenneth Walker III has "marvelous creativity."
For much of Sunday's game, a tough Arizona defense made it difficult on Walker and the rest of Seattle's offense, but Walker, the offensive line and the tight ends all kept at it, resulting in Walker gaining 78 second-half yards, including 62 on those final two drives.
"He's something now," Carroll said. "He's showing us stuff every time we go out. He's got tricks, he's got creativity. It stems from this marvelous ability he has and capitalizes on it because he's so tough and he's so aggressive. He looks like he's going to pop those runs. He looks like he's going to get out and now we have seen enough stuff that you think he's going to sneak out and all of a sudden, he's going to be gone again. I think that anticipation is always really exiting with a great runner, and he's got that."
Earlier in the day, Carroll made a comparison to LaDainian Tomlinson when talking about Walker on his weekly radio show, and asked more about that comparison, Carroll said, "He's got the stuff that shocks you. The really great runners, they shock you with what they see and what they do and how they make their body function. He's got those moves and his ability to put his foot in the ground and get skinny and get huge, then he's hopping over guys doing all those kinds of things. That's what has been really exciting. It's that marvelous creativity and instinctive stuff that they've got that's always been the thing that I love about running backs. He's got a lot of juice now. He's got a lot of stuff for us."
2. Tariq Woolen more than held his own against DeAndre Hopkins.
One of the most anticipated matchups in Sunday's game was Seahawks rookie standout Tariq Woolen, who just won NFL Defensive Rookie of the Month honors, covering Cardinals All-Pro receiver DeAndre Hopkins. Hopkins scored on a 22-yard catch and run early in the game, though not with Woolen in coverage, and he did little damage otherwise, finishing with just four catches for 36 yards. In his previous two games after retuning from suspension, Hopkins caught 22 passes for 262 yards, and both Woolen and fellow cornerback Mike Jackson were big factors in keeping Arizona's top playmaker in check.
"He did a nice job yesterday," Carroll said of Woolen. "The sophisticated things he did in this game and playing at the line of scrimmage and how he kept him guessing a little bit. He was really set with a game plan, and he carried it out really well. He stuck to him throughout the game, and did a nice job, and the ball didn't go that much in his direction. I know he was just kicking himself about the touchdown pass. He just didn't quite get it done on (Zach) Ertz there down at the end. He wanted to get that play made too. Also, he was grousing about how he should've intercepted the ball across the middle. He knocked it down. He felt he went a little conservative. He should've gone for the catch, but he played really well. Michael (Jackson) played really well too. Both of those guys carried out the plan. We had a really specific plan for these guys, and I was really excited to see them do what they did in practice, and they were really subtle things. I don't know if you could've picked up on it. They did some things that changed the rhythm at the line of scrimmage. It really helped them, and it was a big step for us. I thought it was a big step for us and we'll need it going against (Mike) Evans and their guys. They're really good coming up this week."
3. Uchenna Nwosu has been even better than expected.
The Seahawks obviously liked what they saw when they evaluated Uchenna Nwosu this offseason, it's why they made him one of their first additions in free agency. But even Carroll can acknowledge that he didn't quite expect this level of play from Nwosu, who already has a career-best 7.0 sacks midway through the season.
"We watched a couple of his years of play, and he was really solid, tough, physical, and all of that—that was easy to understand," Carroll said. "We knew the kid from his days back at college and we had a lot of great background info on him. I didn't see him as productive and as much of a problem for our opponents that he has created. We have really cut him loose to use his instincts and whatever he sees, he can go for and take a shot at. We will play off of him and cover for him as he is doing his thing. He's done it really well and he is a problem for our opponents. Not just in the pass rush, the running game, and the attack of the line of scrimmage, but then take all of that into account, and the best part about him is how competitive he is. He is just tough as hell, he just keeps bringing it."
Carroll went on to add that having Bruce Irvin to pair with Nwosu has helped the defense play even better in recent weeks.
"It's really cool to see Bruce in a similar fashion, similar type of player," Carroll said. "Bruce is getting going too. We told Bruce the same stuff, 'Cut it loose, make your plays, get after it, see how much you can create, and we will cover for you as best as we can.' Bruce is getting off to a good start with us, so those two guys on the edges are giving us some good play."
4. Jordyn Brooks is in full command of the defense.
A year after setting a franchise record with 184 tackles, Brooks has an NFL-leading 90 after adding 12 more on Sunday. But more than the tackles he is making, what has really stood out about Brooks in his third season has been the way he has taken full command of the defense.
"I don't know if you were in the locker room late last night when I was talking to him, I was talking to him about that," Carroll said. "He has come so far, and he commands so much information. He is the conduit from the coaching staff to the rest of the guys on the field. He's embraced it seriously as a pro, he has really taken it seriously, and he really cares. He's growing, getting better, and doing a million things that he's going to do even better. He's going to continue to get better because he will be in total command, he will be able to teach it to everybody in time. He is at the centerpiece of all of the communications. He has done it in such a good fashion because he cares so much, and he really respects the work and that responsibility in a great way. He's a great football player to boot. I was really thrilled when I was recognizing it last night with him, to share that with him how proud we are of the work that he is doing. It is amazing how much stuff he has done, it's really cool."
5. Injury updates.
The Seahawks had only one significant injury coming out of Sunday's game, with linebacker and special teams standout Cullen Gillaspia leaving the game due to a knee injury. Carroll said Monday that Gillaspia's injury will require surgery, but wasn't as bad as initially feared.
"He's going to have to get his knee fixed," Carroll said. "I was just with him in the training room. It's going to be a long haul. He had some pretty good news. It wasn't as bad as we thought initially, but he'll make his comeback.
Carroll said other than Gillaspia's injury, "We made it out pretty good," and the hope is that some of the players who missed the game due to injury could get back this week.
"We need to see Joey Blount come back," Carroll said. "He should be able to make it back with the quadricep that he had that happened in practice, and Marquise Goodwin is a guy that we are looking to see if he can get back this week. Darrell Taylor, we'll see if those guys can return. I don't know yet with what's going to happen, but those guys all have their sights set on playing and so, we'll see how that goes."
Check out some of the best action shots from Seahawks vs. Cardinals at State Farm Stadium on November 6, 2022. Game action photos are presented by Washington's Lottery.