Last Friday, Seattle managed to escape historic Lambeau Field with a 17-10 victory over the Packers while looking their most vulnerable since the end of last season's playoff run.
They didn't necessarily look bad nor were any glaring weaknesses exposed but, finally, they looked mortal. In the previous exhibition games, not only did Seattle's starting units look better than their competition-- they looked like they were the varsity squad scrimmaging the JV team. This was not the case against Green Bay on Friday.
Let's start with the man that we expect to lead us to our first title. Russell Wilson finished 11-17 with 126 yards passing, 13 yards rushing, two picks and no touchdowns. His opening drive was impressive, going 5-for-5 while picking apart the Packers defense and moving the Seahawks into scoring position. However, that drive was stymied by poor offensive line play and costly penalties, leaving the Seahawks to settle for a field goal.
Uncharacteristically, Wilson threw a pair of interceptions. Chalk one up as a fluke, coming off of a tipped pass, and the other to a rare poor decision by the quarterback where he overthrew Baldwin into double coverage.
I don't expect Russell to dwell on these mistakes-- that's not his style. I suspect that he will treat it as an opportunity to learn and improve. That's something this team needed given all the success and fanfare surrounding them as they prepare for the coming season.
The one aspect of their play where we have yet to see any improvement is the cornucopia of stupid penalties they accumulate each game. Seattle finished this game with an astonishing 14 penalties for 182 yards-- unacceptable no matter how well your team is playing.
Even if Seattle's dominance carries over to the regular season, penalties like that could easily cost you a close game. There is at least a handful of games on the schedule where I could see the outcome coming down to a single score and I hope that this issue is sorted out before then.
Green Bay's defense has improved greatly over the past few seasons and I still expect them to be a Super Bowl contender this year. Still, I wasn't impressed with Seattle's offensive line, particularly in pass protection.
The run game, however, continues to look increasingly more dominant with each week. Seattle's rushing attack finished with 166 yards on the night with our backfield looking the deepest it's ever been. It will be incredibly difficult for Pete & John to trim the fat from that group.
Stephen Williams continues to impress in the passing game, bringing in another long bomb for a touchdown. However, if he can't find a way to contribute more on special teams, he could find himself on the wrong side of the bubble when final cuts come due.
Walter Thurmond continues to look like the prospect Pete Carroll saw when they drafted him in Carroll's first season with the team. Finally healthy, Thurmond looks eager to make some noise.
Benson Mayowa has become my guy to watch. He continued his tremendous preseason with four tackles and a fumble recovery. If he continues on this pace, he should find a spot given the injuries to Clemons and Avril.
We now have on final exhibition match of the preseason remaining before the season kicks off. Generally, the fourth game leaves little to desire given the fact that the starters see extremely limited action but Seattle still has some fierce competition for the remaining roster spots. Plus, it will be nice to see our old friend, Matt Flynn, play against his former team.