1. Watching Russell Wilson is a frustrating exercise, weekly. The Seahawks quarterback opened Sunday night the way he had played most of the season — error-prone and wandering — only to pull himself together in the second half. Wilson, still wary of his shoddy offensive line, continues to play, clinically and by the seat of his pants, outside the pocket — and Seattle lives and dies by his decisions there. Sometimes he’s special, buying time before galloping and diving for a 23-yard touchdown or launching an off-balance laser to Tyler Lockett. Sometimes he’s antsy, underthrowing his high-pointing tight end for a momentum-shifting pick.
It’s easy to trust Wilson to eventually get it right at home against a suspect defense — he’s a Super Bowl champion whose unorthodox pocket play has often been to his benefit, not his Achilles’ heel. But something doesn’t feel right about Wilson and this year’s Seahawks, more so than previous years. Wilson’s performance in this win (81 comp pct., 295 yards, 3 total TD) should be celebrated, but don’t just marvel at the stat line. The tape tells another story.
2. Jacoby Brissett‘s Colts prime-time debut went as you’d expect. There were brilliant flashes; Brissett looking off the great Earl Thomas to throw a dime score to Donte Moncrief was easily the highlight. But the second-year fill-in was his own worst enemy, throwing an early pick-six and then taking a game-sealing strip-sack, which was returned for a touchdown. Until Andrew Luck returns — the dawn that never comes — Brissett will do. He’s a competent backup with a champion’s pedigree, who has kept Indy in every game he’s started so far. But against veteran defenses like Seattle’s, the young gun will be exposed.
3. Seattle’s running back room remains a confounding position group. Relying this season mostly on seventh-round rookie Chris Carson, the Seahawks sat injured pass-catcher C.J. Prosise and healthy scratch Thomas Rawls in favor of Eddie Lacy (just three yards entering Sunday night) and practice-squad jitterbug J.D. McKissic. While Lacy was once again irrelevant until garbage time, the latter roster move proved prescient. On McKissic’s second career carry in the third quarter, the rookie speedster out of Arkansas State broke a 30-yard touchdown run, putting Seattle up for good; his late TD catch was the work of a seasoned wideout.
Carson unfortunately suffered a nasty lower leg injury late in the game, one that could knock him out for some time. His absence would be a massive blow to this offense, which, a season-plus removed from Marshawn Lynch‘s exit, has yet to find the right formula at the position.
4. Indianapolis’ youth movement in the secondary is taking shape. First-year safety Malik Hooker, the Colts‘ first-round pick, recorded yet another interception against Seattle, his third in as many weeks. Hauling it in with one hand, his ensuing 29-yard return reminded scouts and viewers why he drew Ed Reed comparisons coming out of college. Fellow safety Matthias Farley, in his second season, also picked Wilson off of a tip and emerging defensive back Rashaan Melvin followed up his two-pick performance against the Browns with a solid night in coverage.
5. Every week a new hero emerges from Seattle’s evolving defense. On Sunday night, Justin Coleman and Marcus Smith fit that bill. Filling in for the injured cornerback Jeremy Lane, Coleman, traded from the Pats in the offseason, jumped a Brissett pass in the first half; his first career interception went for six. Smith, who was waived by the Eagles in the offseason, came up with the crucial strip-sack of Brissett; his first QB takedown of the season put the win on ice. Only Seattle.
6. The Seahawks did not come out of this victory unscathed. Injuries claimed a hand full of players at Seattle’s most important positions. Carson was carted off; Lane exited with a hip injury; pass rusher Cliff Avril did not return after suffering a neck injury; and starting left tackle Rees Odhiambo was banged up as well.