By Chris Cluff
Golden Tate caught a touchdown pass and threw one; Marshawn Lynch ran for 124 yards and a touchdown and Richard Sherman accounted for two turnovers as the Seahawks sent the new York Jets’ circus packing with a 28-7 defeat Sunday.
It took a little longer than expected — the Hawks did not put the game away until the fourth quarter — but they head into their long-awaited and much-needed bye week at 6-4.
Better yet, the Hawks are just 1.5 games behind the 49ers (6-2-1) in the NFC West after the 49ers tied the Rams on Sunday.
The Seahawks can use a week off to rest up before heading on the road for games in Miami and Chicago.
It was the Golden Tate show as the receiver scored on a leaping 38-yard catch and also threw his own left-handed TD pass, a 23-yarder to Sidney Rice that completely fooled the Jets. Tate is the first receiver to catch and throw a TD pass in a game since 2008.
On the drive that ended with his TD pass to Rice, Tate also made a spectacular play on third-and-5. He caught a screen pass, leaped over a tackler, broke another tackle and raced behind the line for a 13-yard gain.
Russell Wilson was under duress against Rex Ryan’s zone blitz. He was sacked four times and had a fumble returned for New York’s only score — the first fumble return for a touchdown vs. Seattle since 2009.
But all in all, Wilson handled it pretty well. He completed 12 of 19 passes and made his share of good plays, hitting Tate for the 38-yard score in the first quarter and Rice on a 31-yard beauty in the fourth. He also made a couple of great zone-read runs — his 18-yarder was a key play on the drive that ended in the TD pass to Rice that put Seattle up 21-7.
The running game had trouble early but busted out in the fourth quarter as the Seahawks kept pounding. Lynch ran for 124 yards and a touchdown on 27 attempts, eclipsing 1,000 yards for the season. He ran for 60 of those yards in the fourth quarter, with runs of 17, 15 and 18 yards.
The team gained 174 yards on 43 rushes — the second straight game Seattle has gone over 40 carries and the fourth time the Hawks have had at least 170 yards this season.
The Hawks also continued to keep tight end Zach Miller involved. Wilson hit him a game-high five times for 37 yards.
Offense Grade: B
The defense, which had become beleaguered over the past few games, found the perfect opponent to get well against.
The Jets, who seemingly have no clue on offense, shot themselves in the foot as much as the Hawks stopped them. The alternation of Tim Tebow with Mark Sanchez did nothing to help as they gained a paltry 185 yards and accounted for no points.
Richard Sherman accounted for two turnovers, with a goal line interception and a forced fumble on a sack, and Bruce Irvin had two sacks.
Bobby Wagner continued to be a standout, leading the team with nine tackles.
Mike Morgan, filling in for the injured K.J. Wright, stuffed Shonn Greene on fourth-and-1 at the Seattle 41-yard line.
Defense Grade: A
Leon Washington would have loved to have gotten a touchdown against his former team, but he had to settled for 40 yards on three punt returns — a very good 13.3 average.
In a heavy rain, Jon Ryan punted six times for a 42.5 average that was easily his worst of the season. He did place two inside the 20.
Kam Chancellor recovered a muffed punt in the second quarter, setting up the touchdown drive that gave Seattle the lead for good.
Special Teams Grade: B
Darrell Bevell is riding a hot streak. A week after calling a receiver pass for Sidney Rice, he put one in the book for Tate.
“Teams have seen me run the reverse so many times, so it was time to switch it up,” Rice told reporters, per the TNT. “It was a great play call at the right time and Golden was able to get the ball to me in the back of the end zone.”
Bevell and Tom Cable called more of the option read plays for Wilson and made sure to keep pounding the ball on the ground even though the Hawks really struggled to run it in the first half.
Wilson told reporters about the philosophy behind the zone read: “It makes it tough on the defense because people are spread out. The goal is to hand it off to Marshawn; give the ball to him and let him make the play and get a big gain. Once I carry the football, I’m just trying to get 5, 10 yards and make a positive play out of it, be smart and get down. A couple of them, I was able to get loose and get more than just 5 or 10 yards. … I think that’s big for us to be able to change it up in terms of our run looks. Coach Cable and Coach Bevell do a tremendous job of giving us great looks in practice, and getting us ready.”
Gus Bradley’s unit made a nice recovery after getting run all over by Adrian Peterson last week. Bradley made some good calls, like the blitz by Sherman that resulted in a fumble recovered by Jason Jones.
Coaching Grade: B+
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Chris Cluff worked as a sports editor and writer for The Seattle Times for 11 years and has written two books on the Seattle Seahawks. Since leaving the Times, he has written about the Seahawks and Seattle sports for Bleacher Report and the blog he shares with a fellow sportswriter, outsidethepressbox.com. His work can be found on Examiner.com.