Sunday Night wrap-up: Seahawks defense bails them out again


The Seahawks were able to even their record thanks to their defense, as they’ve done so often in the past.

But if they don’t get some help soon from the other side, it’s hard to know how long they’ll be able to keep it up.

The Seahawks pulled away for a 46-18 win over the Colts Sunday night, thanks to a pair of defensive scores.

Cornerback Justin Coleman picked off Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett early, and Bobby Wagner scooped up a sack-strip-fumble in the third quarter (when it was just 25-18), getting them in the end zone when the Seahawks were struggling to do it the conventional way.

The Seahawks were slow-starting offensively, unable to overcome their perpetual offensive line issues. Their lack of a reliable running game hasn’t helped (this is obviously a chicken/egg situation), though J.D. McKissic gave them a burst late, and Chris Carson had a couple of nice runs before he was injured, to go along with Russell Wilson‘s scrambles.

But as a few defenders started getting hurt, you could see some of the potential weaknesses in relying on the defense to bail them out. With defensive end Cliff Avril out with a neck injury (he tweeted later that he was OK), the waves of pressure they count on weren’t quite as consistent. And without that pressure, it’s harder for them to dominate.

It’s also worth pointing out that they weren’t playing against a high-caliber offense, but a guy starting his first road game as a pro, who lacks enough weapons or protection to make this game a trustworthy measuring stick.

It was enough to move the Seahawks to 2-2 on the season, after losses to the Packers and Titans. And lest they go looking for motivational material, it’s not as if the defense is bad. It’s just not as dominant as it has been, and it continues to operate with very little margin of error, which increases the strain on them. And that’s the kind of thing that can show up later in the season against better grades of competition.

Here are five more things we learned during Sunday Night Football:

1. The Colts are far more physical on defense than they were a year ago, thanks to a bunch of mid-level (or at least mid-priced) free agents brought in this offseason.

From Johnathan Hankins and Al Woods up front to linebackers Jabaal Sheard and John Simon, they’re something approaching stable in the front seven. Or at least competent.

They could still use a more prominent pass-rusher (but that could be said of most teams in the league), but as they’ve added playmakers such as first-round safety Malik Hooker in the back, they’re getting better.

Hooker’s third-quarter interception was his third of the year, and with a professional cornerback in Vontae Davis, there’s reason to give Chris Ballard credit for the work done on a unit which needed plenty of it. They ran out of gas in the third quarter and it became an avalanche, but this was always going to be a work in progress from the minute Ballard got the job.

2. Sometimes too much can be made of the noise in Seattle, but when the Colts had to go to their third-string center, it was clear it had an impact.

When Adam Redmond replaced the injured Deyshawn Bond (who was replacing the injured Ryan Kelly), Redmond drew two quick false start penalties. And he needed his left guard to tap him on the butt to know when to snap the ball, you could tell it wasn’t going to be his or the Colts’ night.

3. Colts running back Frank Gore‘s going to have another week to stare at the next spot on the league’s all-time rushing list.

Gore entered the game just 49 yards short of Eric Dickerson (13,259) for the seventh slot on the list.

But with the Colts falling behind in the second half, there weren’t as many chances, so he finished with 12 carries for 46 yards. That puts him at 13,256 for his career.

That sets him up to move up next week against the 49ers, which would be a fitting scene anyway, since that’s where he began and excelled his first 10 seasons.

4. It wasn’t necessarily strange that Coleman picked off Brissett in the first half and returned it to the end zone.

But it is curious since they were teammates a month ago.

The Patriots traded Coleman to the Seahawks for a late pick on Sept. 1, and then sent Brissett to the Colts the next day for wide receiver Phillip Dorsett.

So there’s probably a bit of familiarity, as the former Patriots reserves have worked against each other as reserves getting the spare reps in New England.

5. The Colts are building a roster from the bottom up, and sometimes there’s a benefit there.

They seem to have unearthed a few good special teams players who can help them, and they made several plays in punt coverage to help them with some hidden yardage. A pair of Rigoberto Sanchez punts were downed inside the Seahawks’ 6-yard line (downed by safety Matthias Farley and cornerback Kenny Moore). Those two possessions ended with a safety and an interception.

They have big-picture issues to focus on, but they have made some small improvements which could benefit them in the long run.