NFC West: 2013 Week 8 Upon Further Review NFC

Upon Further Review: Seahawks Week 8

October, 29, 2013
A review of four hot issues from the Seattle Seahawks’ 14-9 victory against the St. Louis Rams:

[+] EnlargeRussell Wilson
Michael Thomas/Getty ImagesRussell Wilson was under heavy pressure Monday night, getting sacked seven times.
A disaster up front on offense: Russell Wilson was sacked seven times Monday night, the most in his career. Wilson has been sacked 19 times in the past five games, which still doesn’t tell the story of how often he gets hit and how much he is under siege. The Seahawks coaches try to portray this in a positive light, saying it will get better, but it isn’t getting better. Playing backups at both tackle spots is only part of the problem. No one on the line is playing well. Something needs to change now. The team can’t just wait around for starters Russell Okung and Breno Giacomini to return from injuries.

Lynch unhappy: Marshawn Lynch had only eight carries Monday night for 23 yards, and it was clear on the sideline near the end of the game that he wasn’t very happy about it. Neither was coach Pete Carroll. "He’s a competitor and he wants the ball," Carroll said of Lynch. "He didn’t have a chance tonight because we didn’t get him the football enough. He was frustrated and I was, too." Everything revolves around the power running game for the Seattle offense, so it's miraculous that the team won when it had only 44 yards rushing on 15 carries. It was a bit of a surprise that returning fullback Michael Robinson didn’t have more of an impact.

Tate good and bad: Seattle wouldn’t have won this game without wide receiver Golden Tate, who scored both touchdowns for the Seahawks, including a stellar 80-yard catch and run when he out-fought the defender for the ball, then set sail for the end zone. But he also made a classless gesture of taunting the safety who was chasing him for the last 20 yards of the run. Tate later apologized, saying he let the emotions of the moment get the best of him. "I’ve got to represent the team a little better than that," Tate said. "I have to act like I’ve been there before. And it hurt our special teams [with the 15-yard penalty on the kickoff]. It won't happen again. It was a lesson learned."

Defense tough in the red zone: The Seattle defense had a rare bad game against the run, giving up 200 yards rushing to a Rams team that was struggling previously at running the football. But the defense got it done when it counted the most. St. Louis was 0-for-4 inside the red zone, settling for field goals the first three trips before a goal-line stand by Seattle at the end of the game preserved the victory. Linebacker Bruce Irvin had an outstanding game with nine tackles, including one sack, and an interception on a deep sideline pass, a spot where Irvin wasn’t asked to cover anyone in the past.

Upon Further Review: Cardinals Week 8

October, 28, 2013
A review of four hot issues from the Arizona Cardinals' 27-13 win over the Atlanta Falcons.

[+] EnlargeTony Gonzalez
AP Photo/Rick ScuteriSafety Rashad Johnson helped Arizona shut down star Atlanta TE Tony Gonzalez on Sunday.
Fast Teddy in the house: Cardinals coach Bruce Arians made it clear that Teddy Williams wasn’t signed to be a threat at receiver. Arizona has plenty of those. Williams was signed as a gunner to complement Justin Bethel, but Arians likes to take advantage of speed when he has it. Thus, the Cardinals implemented a play for Williams to take the top off Atlanta’s defense. It worked, but almost too well. Williams had to slow down to catch a 51-yard pass, which the Falcons weren’t expecting.

“I don’t know if they knew who he was,” Arians said. “I knew he could run. I didn’t know if he could catch.

“I’m just happy he caught it. I’m really happy he caught it. I was holding my breath. I know he was holding his.”

Containing a tight end: It’s no secret tight ends have been the Cardinals’ lone defensive liability, but they were able to limit Atlanta’s Tony Gonzalez to three catches for 26 yards. Arizona did it by rotating defenders on him, that way the Falcons couldn’t adjust their plans according to coverage. Arizona mixed traditional defenses on Gonzalez with gimmick schemes, such as lining up two defenders on him like a punt situation.

“It was a team effort -- team defense, playing with great technique on the back end, defensive line getting pressure,” linebacker Karlos Dansby said. “We did it together.”

Time off needed for Fitz’s hammy: He might’ve said he’s fine, but Larry Fitzgerald’s hamstring hasn’t been at 100 percent for a while and it showed again Sunday. He had 48 yards and a touchdown on four catches. Arians said Fitzgerald played a solid game. But Fitz can’t wait for the bye.

“I’m glad we’re going into the bye to get some time to really get after it and nip it in the bud and have smooth sailing for the next eight games,” Fitzgerald said. “That would be ideal for me."

Ellington still looks to Mendenhall: Despite staking his claim for the starting running back job, rookie Andre Ellington still sees it as Rashard Mendehall’s. When Mendenhall returns, Ellington said it won’t be hard to accept a lesser role -- if he does.

“Rashard is our bell cow,” Ellington said. “He’s our leader in the room. This guy earned that respect. I’m waiting for him to get healthy and get out there and make plays.”