ReFo: Seahawks @ Giants, Week 15
It was probably the last thing an up and down New York Giants team wanted to see, arguably the best team in the NFL coming off a tough loss to their rivals, and eager to get back on track straight away. And getting back on track was exactly what the Seattle Seahawks did, making themselves feel quite at home inside the stadium which will host this season’s Super Bowl as they handed the Giants their first regular season home shut out since September 4th, 1995.
Considering they didn’t snap the ball in Seattle territory until there was 7:08 remaining in the game, it’s safe to say that the shutout was an accurate reflection of the game, despite the Giants defense putting up some resistance early.
As can be expected, a score line like this saw several notable performances, good and bad, on both sides of the ball. So, with that in mind, let’s take a look at who stood out in Seattle’s comfortable victory on Sunday.
Seattle – Three Performances of Note
Remember when the Seahawks lost their starting cornerback and their nickelback within a few weeks of each other? That’s the sort of thing which can cause major problems for plenty of teams around the league, but the depth in the Seattle secondary has resulted in them not missing a beat. Standout Richard Sherman (+2.5) saw five passes thrown into his coverage for the first time since Week 8, allowing just two receptions for 18 yards while breaking up one pass and picking off two more. The pass breakup lead to an interception by safety Earl Thomas, leaping high to get in the way of the throw to Hakeem Nicks on 2nd-and-10 with 4:24 left to go in the game.
Opposite Sherman, Byron Maxwell (+2.2) had a pair of interceptions of his own, shutting out the Giants receivers with zero receptions allowed from the five passes thrown into his coverage. Readers of our weekly Third Phase article, which digs deep into special teams play, will already be aware of how good a season Jeremy Lane (+2.3) is having in that regard but Sunday saw him continue to make the most of an increased role on defense. No Seattle defender was targeted more than the seven times the ball was thrown into Lane’s coverage and, while he allowed four receptions, they went for a total of just 22 yards, with none going for more than nine.
Averaging 2.9 yards per carry, and rushing for just 47 yards might not seem like an impressive performance for a running back but, as is often the case with Marshawn Lynch (+2.3), he made the most of what was available to him. With 30 of those 47 yards coming after contact, Lynch forced three missed tackles as a runner. Making even a two yard touchdown run look impressive on 2nd-and-Goal with 5:39 left in the first, he kept himself upright with an arm before powering into the end zone despite the best efforts of Ryan Mundy and Justin Tuck.
He may have trailed quarterback Russell Wilson by three yards as the team’s leading rusher on the day, but with six receptions for 73 yards, he lead the Seahawks in that regard, with his five missed tackles forced from 22 total touches on offense giving him an Elusive Rating of 42.6.
Dominant Defensive Linemen
It wasn’t just the secondary that had an impressive day for Seattle, with both Brandon Mebane (+4.1) and Michael Bennett (+4.7) having two of the better performances you’ll see from a defensive lineman this week. Mebane gave center Kevin Boothe trouble all game long, with both of his tackles resulting in defensive stops and coming when lined up against Boothe. He also got the better of him to force a cut from running back Andre Brown on two occasions, on top of beating him for a pressure and another would-be pressure had it not been for help from Brown.
While most of Mebane’s success came against the run, Bennett’s big day came more from a pass rushing perspective, but was just as dominant. Beating both right guard David Diehl and rookie right tackle Justin Pugh on his way to a sack, two hits and three quarterback hurries from 28 pass rushing attempts, he finished the game with a Pass Rushing Productivity Rating of 17.0. Against the run he played just six snaps, but made three tackles, with all three resulting in a defensive stop.
New York – Three Performances of Note
It’s been a season to forget for Eli Manning (-5.4) and the Giants and that continued on Sunday as the former first overall draft pick threw five interceptions, his fifth game this year where he has thrown at least three. There’s plenty of blame to go around in New York, and the offensive line will get its share in the next section. For all the things which were going wrong around him, Eli just didn’t make smart decisions on Sunday. Sherman’s first interception came on a go route on 2nd-and-14 with 9:13 to go in the first half that Eli had no business throwing, with the Seahawks star defender matching Nicks stride for stride before the ball was thrown. Add to that an underthrown pass that allowed Maxwell to undercut the route and pick it off, combined with poor ball security that lead to two fumbles in the pocket and you wind up with his worst graded performance of the year so far.
Offensive Line Woes
As was highlighted above, it wasn’t just Eli at fault for the shutout, with the offensive line allowing him to be under pressure on 12 of his 34 drop backs, despite the Seahawks sending an extra blitzer just eight times. Only left tackle Williams Beatty (+0.7) and backup left guard Brandon Mosley (+1.6) finished the game with a positive grade, with the line struggling to create any room for Brown as well as keep Eli clean. The team averaged just 1.8 yards per carry from their 14 rushing attempts, including just 1.3 YPC on five runs between center and right guard. Though the lowly rushing total, and the fact that Brown and Peyton Hillis failed to force any missed tackles, indicated a poor day all round, it’s worth noting that they had a total of 26 yards after contact, one higher than their rushing total for the day.
Rolle’s Stong Play Continues
While it was a bad day for most of the Giants on the field, Antrel Rolle (+2.0) continued to play well, with his seventh positively graded game in the past eight. After having six missed tackles in the first four weeks of the season, Rolle has missed just three since, including one on Sunday, and he’ll finish with his best total since we began grading if he can avoiding missing more than one more in the final two weeks of the season.
Against the Seahawks he saw two passes thrown into his coverage, with one going for a three yard reception, and the other winding up in Rolle’s hands off a Wilson interception on 1st-and-10 with 20 seconds to go in the third quarter. Against the run all three of his solo tackles resulted in a defensive stop, with all three coming on plays where Rolle was lined up eight yards or more from the line of scrimmage.
– On throws travelling 10 or more yards in the air, Wilson completed just four of 12 for 68 yards, with no touchdowns and an interception.
– The Seahawks fantastic year on special teams continued, with Golden Tate averaging 10.4 yards per punt return, and just four return yards allowed from seven Jon Ryan punts.
– No Giants defender allowed more yards in coverage than linebacker Jon Beason, who allowed 68 from three receptions.
PFF Game Ball
On a deep Seahawks team that gave the Giants trouble all game long there are plenty of options here, but Michael Bennett was a shade better than anyone else, with his dominance as a pass rusher netting him the game ball.
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