ReFo: Seahawks @ Colts, Week 5
Andrew Luck outdueled Russell Wilson in a battle of two of the top quarterbacks from the 2012 draft in a game that resulted in both teams being 4-1.
ReFo: Seahawks @ Colts, Week 5
Take the Indianapolis Colts who are striving to prove themselves as a team to be taken seriously, reinforcing the notion they’re a contender after an earlier dismantling of the San Francisco 49ers. While for the Seattle Seahawks the chance to remain perfect on the year and keep the distance between themselves and the Niners was all that mattered.
Ultimately it was the Colts who would prevail, taking advantage of some fortunate bounces of the ball but more than anything making plays they needed to. That’s why they went home as winners last night, and it’s why more people need to be talking about them.
Seahawks – Three Performances of Note
Tackling a Problem
When Russell Okung went down it wasn’t so much the loss of the talented tackle that made your heart skip a beat, as much as it was the prospect of Paul McQuistan (-4.4) moving to left tackle. Over the years, McQuistan had developed into a below-average guard. You know the type, not bad enough that he’s ruining the offense but not good enough that you aren’t always thinking of upgrading on him.
Unfortunately the same can’t be said for him when switched to the left tackle spot where he doesn’t have the talent to cope with speed rushes off the edge. Against the Colts he allowed a sack, a hit, and six hurries as the team is left to hope Okung can return later in the season. It’s either that or getting to a stage where they see if undrafted free agent Alvin Bailey is up to the task because McQuistan just isn’t a left tackle at this level. His poor day was summed up when on the Seahawks’ final offensive play he was beaten by a spin move from Robert Mathis that hurried his quarterback into throwing a pick as opposed to taking a sack.
Flying Around the Field
He did miss a couple of tackles (including one on that touchdown) but this was the kind of game where you just love to watch Earl Thomas. His 10 tackles indicated he was desperate to make an impression in this game and so it proved. Whether it be scaring a dropped pass out of Reggie Wayne coming over the middle (Q1, 14:10) or showing excellent closing speed to cause a screen play to go for zero yards (Q4, 14:31) you always had a feeling he was just a second away from making a play. His late stop on a quarterback scramble of Andrew Luck showed his ability in the open field when many would have missed, and it’s performances like this that make him so beloved by the Seahawks’ fan base.
Poor Passing & Reliable Running
It may seem odd, but Week 5 marked the third time this year Russell Wilson (0.0) graded negatively passing the ball, leaving him with a -2.9 grade on the year. He completed just 15-of-29 aimed passes with two drops, and the signs were there early that he wasn’t quite on his game. With 13:18 to go in Q1 he had plenty of room to hit Doug Baldwin on a crosser, but missed comprehensively with a big overthrow. There were moments that made you forget this but the truth is he left plays and points on the field with some uncharacteristically sloppy passing. It’s not a sophomore slump yet, but let’s not fool ourselves that Wilson is at the level he was last year.
But enough with the negatives. Because while his passing hasn’t quite been what many would have hoped, his legs are getting the job done and the more teams learn to respect that, the more it should help his receivers. That’s four games on the bounce he’s graded positively as a runner and he shows no signs of slowing down with his smarts preventing him taking any big hits.
Colts – Three Performances of Note
Mathis Makes More Plays
Sure, he was extremely fortunate to be awarded with one sack as Wilson ran out of bounds, but don’t take anything away from a fine performance from Robert Mathis (+5.9) who put in his best performance of the season.
It may have come against Paul McQuistan, but you can only beat what is in front of you and beat him he certainly did. He ended the day with two sacks and five hurries, and he did so at crucial junctures of the game. Take his half-ending sack with 10 seconds left in Q2. The Seahawks were looking to get into point-scoring range and with some speed off the edge he ended that dream. Then, with the game on the line, he forced Wilson to scramble in the pocket with a spin move that would have made Dwight Freeney proud.
A Tale of Two Different Receivers
It may surprise some that Darrius Heyward-Bey (-2.8) is still seeing more playing time than T.Y. Hilton (+2.5) but it’s still working out that way. The former Raider was on the field for 58 snaps compared to 47 for Hilton and now has 42 more snaps than the sophomore on the year.
This game did nothing to alter the perception that Hilton will begin eating into that sooner rather than later. “DHB” averaged a poor 0.00 Yards per Route Run as his five targets all ended up incomplete, with one drop on a simple screen for good measure. Meanwhile, Hilton had a game best 5.19 YPRR score, turning six targets into a rather more healthy 140 yards with two touchdowns. His playmaking was evident for all to see.
No Luck Needed
If this was a battle between the sophomore passers, then quite clearly it was Andrew Luck (+5.8) who won this battle. With a running back that was getting nothing going, it fell on his shoulders to bring his team back into the game before surpassing the Seahawks.
It didn’t go well for Seattle when they tried to blitz the former first overall pick, with Luck completing 8-of-9 passes on the 10 plays they blitzed him for 139 yards and a touchdown. That was good for a 155.8 QB rating and summed up the problems the defense had in trying to harass mistakes out of Luck only for him to take advantage of less men in coverage.
– The first appearance of the season for Bruce Irvin saw him play 37 snaps and finish with a sack and two hurries on 14 pass rushes.
– Russell Wilson faced pressure on 22 of 42 dropbacks as the Seahawks’ line again struggled.
– An area to work on? The Colts missed a disappointing 13 tackles.
It’s about making big plays at big times, and with that in mind I could have gone with one of two men. In the end I’m leaning on Andrew Luck over Robert Mathis.
Follow Khaled on Twitter: @PFF_Khaled