RENTON, Wash. (AP) — Bobby Wagner knows what elite defenses look like.
He was the anchor in the middle the previous time the Seattle Seahawks had a defense regarded in that way.
This current group in Seattle isn’t in that “Legion of Boom” era category. But they are showing characteristics that provide the Seahawks a chance to win even when their offense makes mistakes.
“We’re moving in the right direction,” Wagner said.
For only the fifth time in franchise history, the Seahawks have held their opponents to 250 yards or fewer in three straight games. The latest game came Sunday when Seattle shut down Arizona in the second half of a 20-10 win over the Cardinals.
For the third time in Pete Carroll’s tenure, the Seahawks have gone three straight games holding their opponent under the 250-yard mark.
One came in 2014 when Seattle held a staggering six straight opponents under the 250-yard mark. That was during Seattle’s run with a defense that one of the best of its generation.
The other time under Carroll came late in the 2015 season, again with most of those same pieces still around.
This group of Seahawks aren’t there yet. There needs to be more consistency over a longer period against top teams — which will come with Baltimore, San Francisco twice, Dallas and Philadelphia on the horizon.
It was just more than a month ago that Matthew Stafford, Jared Goff and Andy Dalton threw for more than 300 yards in consecutive weeks against Seattle.
But in the past three games, Seattle’s defense has allowed 30 total points and only three touchdown drives in 33 offensive possessions.
“Early on, we were still meshing, learning how to grow,” safety Julian Love said. “And now, we’re vibing. We know where each other is going to be. So we have to keep stacking.”
For the second straight year, Seattle landed itself a cornerback that is going to be in the discussion for defensive rookie of the year conversation. Last year it was Riq Woolen, an unheralded fifth-round pick that quickly emerged. This year, it’s first-rounder Devon Witherspoon, who continues to make a forceful impression. Witherspoon had four tackles and one pass breakup, but he had an interception and a sack negated by penalties.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
There’s no question the red zone offense needs to improve. In the past two games, Seattle has gone 2 of 8 in converting red zone opportunities into touchdowns. For the season, the Seahawks are 12 of 25 and one of 11 teams under 50%.
Wide receiver Jake Bobo has gone from longshot to make the roster as an undrafted rookie to having a nice role carved out for himself after just six games. Bobo became a fan favorite in the preseason and earned himself a spot on the roster to start the season. What was unexpected was his impact in a variety of ways for Seattle’s offense. With DK Metcalf out on Sunday, Bobo took over some of his duties and finished with four catches for 61 yards and a beautiful 18-yard touchdown catch. With everyone healthy, Bobo is a No. 4 wide receiver for Seattle used in specific packages. But he’s showing he can be a little more than that if Seattle needs him in a bigger role.
There have been a series of mistakes creeping back into Geno Smith’s game the past two weeks that can’t continue. Smith lost a fumbled snap, threw one interception and likely should have had another pass picked off in Sunday’s win. The pass that was intercepted at the Arizona 1 was a poor decision and a poorly thrown ball, although Smith said his arm was hit on the release. The fumble happened early in the fourth quarter at the Seattle 37 and the Seahawks were holding only a 17-10 lead.
The mistakes ultimately didn’t affect the outcome, but coming on the heels of the loss to Cincinnati where Seattle scored 10 points on five red zone trips in part because of miscues by Smith, the trend needs to change.
Seattle’s one injury coming out of Sunday is significant as edge rusher Uchenna Nwosu suffered a pectoral injury that looks as if it will require season-ending surgery, Carroll said.
Nwosu has been Seattle's best edge defender on the defensive line the past two seasons and if he's out for the season, it will require Darrell Taylor, Boye Mafe and Derick Hall to take on bigger roles.
127 — The Cardinals rushed for 127 yards against Seattle, the most allowed this season by the Seahawks. Some of that was from Arizona QB Joshua Dobbs. But last year five of Seattle’s first six opponents rushed for at least 144 yards.
What was supposed to be a game hyped mostly around a uniform next week now has major significance when the Seahawks host Cleveland. Both teams are 4-2 after each won on Sunday, although a decent amount of attention will be on Seattle wearing its throwback uniforms for the first time, appeasing fans that have wanted the Seahawks to revert to their original look.
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