When the Seahawks took the field to open the second half of last week's game in Tennessee, what up to that point had been a struggling offense put together a nine-play, 75-yard touchdown drive that took 4 minutes, 51 seconds off the clock. On the drive, the Seahawks rushed five times for 21 yards, and Russell Wilson completed all four pass attempts, including a 10-yard touchdown to Chris Carson, for 54 yards.
The Seahawks were balanced, they had an explosive play—a 26-yard completion to Jimmy Graham—and the most importantly, the drive ended in the end zone. It wasn't just one of Seattle's best drives of the season, it was also one that best demonstrated what the Seahawks want to be on offense.
"That was the best drive this year," offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said. "We've all had this conversation in our (meeting) rooms; that was Seahawk ball. That's what we would like it to look like, that's how we want to play ball. There was a nice run-pass mix, obviously we were able to get it in the end zone. That's what we feel like our offense should look like."
Offensive line coach/assistant head coach Tom Cable agreed, saying, "I don't think there's any doubt. I mean, we kind of talked about it afterwards and then we talked about it with the players on Monday—that that's exactly what our vision is in terms of being explosive, having the runs, going out and getting 4 more, getting completions, ball's out quick, movement, and it just looked like what we're trying to be. That's a starting point."
As impressive as that drive was, Cable calls it a starting point because, three games into the season, the Seahawks haven't had enough drives like that. The Seahawks started last week's game by punting on their first six possessions, and in their first two games, they scored just one touchdown, the go-ahead score in a Week 2 win over the 49ers. On a much more encouraging note, the Seahawks scored touchdowns on four of their final seven possessions in an eventual loss to the Titans, and piled up a season-best 433 yards of offense. So while there is plenty to clean up, the Seahawks feel good about the direction of their offense heading into Sunday night's game against the Indianapolis Colts.
"We haven't functioned as cleanly (early in games), we just haven't," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "We didn't at Green Bay, and we dropped a couple balls that would have made a world of difference in game two, and it was hard getting started in game three. It is that ability to make sure the throws and the catches are happening. We saw them against the 'Niners and the throws were there and the touchdown plays were there and we didn't convert them. So regardless of how it happened, that was a big part of it, so we just have to be cleaner and sharper and make sure we are functioning earlier to get a better start going. The first drive was a 15-play drive in the 'Niners game. Everything was perfect and beautiful and all that and then we ended up kicking a field goal. It's a couple different things here, but it's really clear what we need to get done, so we should be able to function a lot better. We are really counting on that happening and this would be a great week to get it started."
As Carroll points out, there hasn't been one constant issue holing the offense down. In Week 1, protection issues hurt the offense, while in Week 2 it was dropped passes and a couple missed throws by Wilson, and last week, Wilson was uncharacteristically high a couple of throws, while a few rare bad snaps from center Justin Britt also caused problems. Everyone involved feels like those are easily correctable issues, and again, based off what the offense did late in the game last week, there's optimism about that unit going forward.
"We weren't too hot in the first quarter and really the middle of the second quarter, but then we found our way there," said Wilson, who finished with 373 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions. "… I think for us it really just comes down to the execution and not trying to get too complicated, just trying to execute one play at a time. I take a lot of ownership in it as well. You really want to play great early on and just making sure we find a way to do that, whatever that is. Whether it is running the ball right at them or whether it is a zone-read game, whether it is passing, whether it is going deep, whatever it is, whenever we call the play. It is really just being simple and executing it. I don't have a huge crazy answer for you. I think that is really the truth of it all though. Once we do that, like I have said a few times, really when you look at it there is three plays in the game early, middle of the game that either make or break the game for you typically, right? So if we can find those game altering plays and capitalize on those, and they could be a small play, it could be a little slant route, it could be a handoff, it could be whatever it is and we block it up right on the run, if we block it up right on the pass protection, if I make the right throw, boom, boom, boom, make a great catch, those things are the things that give you that momentum. It's like hitting a great three, hitting back to back threes in a basketball game. Once you kind of get that rhythm, you start heating up and that allows you to excel hopefully the rest of the game."
Only time will tell if the Seahawks have found their rhythm on offense, but following the second half of last week's game, they feel like they're heading in the right direction.
"We got better," Cable said. "That's all I care about. In September, you want to get better and you want to win. In October you want to get even better and you want to win. And by November and December, you want to be as good as there is. That's how you do this. So you don't panic over this; you want to get better. That means you've got to eliminate distraction, stay true to the game every snap, then go play your butts off."
The best photos from the Seahawks' Thursday practice at Virginia Mason Athletic Center in preparation for Sunday's Game against the Indianapolis Colts.