The Seahawks improved to 4-0 on Sunday in Miami with a 31-23 victory over the Dolphins. It's just the second time in franchise history that the team has began a season 4-0. The last time they did it was in 2013 when they won their first Super Bowl.
Whether this team is capable of such a feat remains to be seen, but the Seahawks have escaped the first quarter of the season with an unblemished record and survived the longest road trip in the league to win despite a significantly depleted lineup. It's also just the second regular season victory in Miami the franchise has ever had.
Chris Carson rushed for 80 yards and two touchdowns and Russell Wilson threw for 360 yards two scores as the Seahawks have scored at least 30 points in all four games this season.
The defense also showed some progress despite some notable absences after being gashed repeatedly the first three weeks of the year. While they still gave up over 400 yards of offense, the Dolphins only managed to find the end zone one time and settled for five Jason Sanders field goals instead.
The team also escaped the road trip without adding to their injury report, which will be a big plus given that 25 players were listed at some point on the report last week.
Here are the takeaways from the victory over the Dolphins:
-- Don't kid yourself, this is a very good with for the Seahawks
Don't dismiss the significance of this victory for the Seahawks. For a team missing Bruce Irvin, Jamal Adams, Quinton Dunbar, Jordyn Brooks, Carlos Hyde, Marquise Blair and Lano Hill, to make a trip to Miami and beat a legitimate NFL team is a very big win.
There are no Citadel's or Sacramento State's in the NFL. The Dolphins aren't a pushover and the Seahawks took their diminished roster on the road and got a win. It's a place Seattle has struggled to win for their entirety of their existence. It's just the second regular season victory in Miami the franchise has ever had. The last, and only, previous victory in Miami came on Oct. 6, 1996 in a 22-15 win. The Seahawks did win a playoff game in Miami, 27-20, in 1983.
"Really pleased to come this way and get a win, finish off the first quarter of the season as we have. So that's a good accomplishment for us. Really fired up about that," head coach Pete Carroll said.
Ryan Neal started at strong safety in place of Adams and came up with the first of two interceptions for the defense on the day on a ball deflected by Cody Barton, who was starting in place of Brooks.
"Played some new guys that came through, did a nice job for us. Cody played today for the first time, got a full start for himself for the first time, and guys held up well," Carroll said.
-- Pressure packages dialed back as defense bends but doesn't break
With Adams watching the game at home, the Seahawks elected to pressure less and refocused their efforts against the Dolphins
Given how upset Carroll was at his team getting beat over the top on deep passes a week ago, the move felt like a direct reaction. The move paid off as the Seahawks allowed only a single touchdown and came up with two interceptions of Ryan Fitzpatrick.
"We kept them in front of us all day long and made them run their way down," head coach Pete Carroll said. "That's an improvement. Played some new guys that came through, did a nice job for us. Cody (Barton) played today for the first time, got a full start for himself for the first time, and guys held up well.
"This was just this game and this (game) plan and what we needed to do to in keep front of us and all that and it worked out fine."
Bryan Mone and Anthony Rush combined on the only sack of Fitzpatrick but the defense managed 12 total breakups of passes with Shaquill Griffin and Ryan Neal each notching interceptions.
"We knew that balls can't get over our head this week," linebacker K.J. Wright said. "We know that we got to sink back, keep everything in front of us and I believe we accomplished that goal today. And so you get what you emphasize, and the coaches really harped on there we got to buzz to the flats, we've got to get back on a hook drops because they'd like to throw to number 88 and I think we did a good job of stopping him today. Tremendous game plan."
Wright had a big game for Seattle individually as well. He had his hands on a couple possible interceptions, leveled a couple big hits and managed to sniff out a couple of screen passes for minimal gains or losses.
"He shows you what instinct and savvy is all about," Carroll said of Wright. It's just remarkable and obvious that he's making plays on the other side of the field because he sees it happening, and he's making plays way in the back field on the screens and things, and it's really hard to get him on any of that stuff. That's experience, and he's just a great ball player.
-- Russell Wilson's "down" week still a really strong performance, calls a TD drive himself
Wilson only threw for 360 yards and only tossed two touchdowns against the Dolphins on Sunday. He was even intercepted once. (gasp!)
After spinning it superbly for the first three games of the season, Wilson was only very good against the Dolphins. He was intercepted by Xavien Howard in the end zone on the opening drive of the second half as an off-balance throw just didn't have quite enough heat behind it to get into Metcalf on time.
But that was Wilson's only real blemish on the day. In fact, Wilson also had to take on play-calling duties when the headsets failed for a drive early in the fourth quarter. All Wilson did in response was to orchestrate a touchdown drive that gave Seattle a two-score lead.
Wilson said the headsets went out on the first play of the drive so he was on his own the rest of the possession. He marched the team on a 75-yard touchdown drive in six plays with a 17-yard touchdown pass to David Moore capping the possession.
"I hit Tyler (Lockett) on a cross. We ran the first (play), we hit Tyler across the field. I think DeeJay had a nice play and then they were substituting and caught them in the substitute and we went down the field and hit D-Mo on the go ball," Wilson said of the drive.
"I'm always prepared for those moments, obviously. Just knowing the game plan knowing the plays, being ready to call two-minute situations, two-minute plays all that stuff. I've kind of always been prepared in that sense."
Wilson also connected with Travis Homer on a 3-yard touchdown pass with just three seconds left in the first half after a speedy drive gave them a chance at the end zone. The Dolphins busted a coverage to allow Moore to get free for 57 yards to set up a chance at the end zone. Wilson's strike to Homer gave Seattle a 17-9 halftime advantage.
Moore finished with three catches for 95 yards and a touchdown while Metcalf led the way with four catches for 106 yards.
"Just look at his stats. He's gone for 300-plus yards, I think, in every game. He has a boatload of touchdowns. Only threw two picks, I'm sorry for one of them that he threw today. But his stats speak for themselves," Metcalf said. "He's a great leader, a great role model. Any fourth quarter come back and he's at quarterback. You know, there's not a doubt that we're going to win. Just look at his track record it's going to speak for itself so I'm putting out Russ for MVP this year."
-- Chris Carson bounces back from knee injury, takes a big hit and keeps delivering
Carson has been overshadowed by the stellar start to the year by Wilson. However, Carson managed to rebound from a wrenched knee last week against the Cowboys to deliver a strong day on the ground with two touchdowns for Seattle.
"Chris is a stud football player and the man never backed down from anything," Carroll said.
Carson was questionable to play against Miami after Cowboys defensive tackle Trysten Hill used a "gator roll" to wrench his leg at the bottom of the pile in the fourth quarter of last week's win. With Carlos Hyde out with a shoulder injury, Carson's availability was a big boost for Seattle on Sunday.
"He told us when we got back on Wednesday, he said, I think I'm okay. I'm going to make it," Carroll said. "We took it easy on him the first couple days and got him through the week and he looked great. It really helped us because Carlos couldn't go with a sore shoulder, and Chris ran really well today. It was 80 yards worth of good running. He's such a tough football player and a great competitor that that's not a surprise to us that he would bounce back and get back up. He took a hell of a shot and got back up and got right after it again. So he's a terrific football player."
Carson took a big blow which caused him to fumble on a run in the second quarter. He was evaluated for a concussion but ultimately was cleared and allowed to return to the game.
"They didn't know whether he got his head hit or not and so they went to check that out and that was all and it was a precautionary and he was OK," Carroll said.
Carson scored on a pair of 1-yard touchdown runs to book-end the scoring for the Seahawks.
Photo Credit: MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA - OCTOBER 04: Russell Wilson #3 of the Seattle Seahawks throws a pass against the Miami Dolphins during the first half at Hard Rock Stadium on October 04, 2020 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)