I. Three things we learned
1) The Seahawks still may have the best quarterback in the division.
Opinions of Matt Hasselbeck have become almost political in Seattle, that’s how deep they are entrenched. At this point there’s not much that’s going to cause those advocating a change at quarterback to reconsider, but Sunday’s game should because Hasselbeck played his best game since the 2007 season. The throws he made to Deon Butler and tight end Chris Baker couldn’t have been any better. And there was a team on the other side of the field Sunday that would absolutely love to have Hasselbeck at quarterback.
2) Mike Williams deserves deed and title to the Arizona Cardinals secondary.
He absolutely owns them. That was true three weeks earlier when Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie had trouble defending Williams, and he did it again Sunday, dominating a matchup against Greg Toler to such an extent Toler was eventually removed from the game. Williams has caught 46 passes this season. Twenty-two of them have come in the two games against Arizona.
3) Brandon Mebane makes a difference to the defense.
He returned after missing the past four games, and while the Cardinals weren’t at full strength – missing running back Beanie Wells – they were less effective running the ball against Seattle than three weeks ago in Seattle. That wasn’t entirely due to Mebane, but his return undoubtedly helped.
II. Three things we don’t know
1) What has happened to Seattle’s red-zone offense?
The Seahawks had eight possessions in Arizona’s red zone. They scored a touchdown on just two of them. That comes three weeks after Seattle converted one of seven red-zone chances against Arizona. Now, maybe the Cardinals are extremely good inside the red zone, and they do rank toward the top of the league in that category. But they also rank toward the top of the league in large part because of these games against Seattle, and the Seahawks offense can’t afford to keep settling for field goals. At 6 feet 5, Williams seems like he’s built to stand out in the red zone yet he has only one touchdown this season.
2) Where John Carlson fits into the passing game?
It has been nine games now, and the player many expected to have a breakout season isn’t much of a factor. You can explain it with the difficulties of adjusting to a new offense for the second consecutive year. You can cite Seattle’s need for pass protection, but at this point, the trend is clear that Carlson is an afterthought of sorts in the passing attack, certainly not the role anyone anticipated.
3) Was this a breakthrough game for Aaron Curry?
He had two sacks, the first a product of his hustle and the second a result of improved pass-rushing technique as he saw the Cardinals expecting a speed rush, playing his outside shoulder and he turned inside and got a clean hit on Arizona’s Derek Anderson, forcing a fumble. It was the first multi-sack game of Curry’s career, and he also had seven tackles, which was tied with safety Earl Thomas for most on the team. Could it be the breakthrough for Curry?
III. Three things we’re still trying to figure out
1) Why Pete Carroll refuses to be happy kicking a field goal at the end of the first half.
He did it again in Arizona, eschewing the kick to go for it on fourth-and-1, and not only did he go for it, he went for it with a quarterback sneak. It’s the third time this season Seattle has opted against a field goal to go for it on fourth down, and it has yet to convert one of those opportunities. It hasn’t cost Seattle anything more than three points. At least not yet. But at some point Pete Carroll is going to have to concede that he simply doesn’t have the superior stable of players to go for it on fourth down whenever he likes the upside of punching it in the end zone as opposed to “settling” for three points.
2) What were the Cardinals thinking releasing Matt Leinart the week before the season?
So the Cardinals weren’t sold on him as a starter. Would they be willing to try it now after the Cardinals have gone from Derek Anderson to undrafted rookie Max Hall back to Anderson? Arizona has the best offensive player in the division in Larry Fitzgerald. You just wouldn’t necessarily know it from the flow of the game. Arizona wanted Charlie Whitehurst in the offseason, and now it’s apparent why because once Kurt Warner decided to retire, the Cardinals had no real succession plan in place.
3) If that was an honest-to-goodness running attack Seattle showed in the third quarter?It sure looked like it. Justin Forsett came in with just the right amount of elusiveness and wiggle in the open field. Considering that Russell Okung is expected back this week, the Seahawks’ desire to establish a running game could graduate from a hope to a realistic possibility. Maybe Marshawn Lynch won’t have to run through multiple tacklers until after he reaches the line of scrimmage. Wouldn’t that be something?