Report Card: Top Performances in Seahawks 39-32 Loss to Saints – Sports Illustrated

Despite another impressive offensive display for a second straight week, the Seahawks came up on the short side of the stick in a 39-32 shootout loss to the Saints, dropping their record to 2-3 on the season.
Even in a frustrating defeat, several players shined on both sides of the ball for Seattle in the Big Easy. Here are my top five grades along with other notable performances from the Caesars Superdome.
Overall Grade: 92.0 (Receiving 97, Run Blocking 65*)
*Weighted for 16 run blocking reps
After torching opposing defensive backs for the past half decade, nobody should be surprised by Lockett's precision as a route runner, particularly as a downfield target. As his chemistry with Smith continues to grow, the duo has started to look eerily similar to when a different quarterback sporting No. 3 was throwing to him. Trailing 17-13 late in the first half, the electric receiver put on a master class route running clinic, using a slight step back outside to get the safety to turn his hips towards the sideline before cutting back inside on a skinny post. With two defenders in trail, Smith lofted a perfect strike over Lockett's shoulder and the receiver emulated Willie Mays reeling it in to give the Seahawks the lead heading into the half. Helping his team mount a late comeback in the fourth quarter, he would add a 40-yard touchdown reception on a similar play and finished with an efficient five catches for 104 yards on six targets.
Overall Grade: 90.0 (Passing 93, Rushing 78*)
*Weighted for one run play
For those waiting for Smith's play to crash back to Earth, they will have to wait at least another week after another scintillating performance in New Orleans. While he completed a season-low 64 percent of his passes, that number was hurt by a pair of drops by DK Metcalf and Will Dissly. He still converted on 16 out of 25 pass attempts for 268 yards and three touchdowns, setting season-highs averaging 10.72 yards per attempt and 13.12 air yards per attempt. Consistently taking shots downfield, Smith showed off his arm talent connecting on several throws with a high degree of difficulty, including a pair of long touchdown moon balls to Lockett that were dropped perfectly over the receiver's shoulder in tight coverage. He also made a dazzling throw to Noah Fant rolling out to his left and firing a bullet over the outstretched arms of a Saints defender off platform for a 32-yard completion. Add in a 13-yard run for a first down and it was another excellent day at the office despite his team coming up short.
Overall Grade: 89.5 (Run Defense 92, Tackling 90, Pass Rush 87)
Giving up 235 rushing yards to the Saints on the afternoon, the Seahawks have plenty of issues to address along their defensive line, but Woods isn't part of the problem. Continuing to dominate in the trenches at the ripe age of 35, the seasoned veteran couldn't be blocked in the early stages of Sunday's game. On the opening drive, he swam past a double team to stone wall wildcat quarterback Taysom Hill for a minimal gain. Then on the next series, he promptly shed a failed block attempt by center Erik McCoy and blew up dynamic back Alvin Kamara in the backfield. Later in the half, displaying smooth feet and agility at 340 pounds, he executed a spin move that would make former Colts and Seahawks legend Dwight Freeney proud and brought down Andy Dalton for his first sack of the season. Unfortunately, a knee injury forced him out of action in the second half and Seattle missed his mountainous presence in the middle badly down the stretch.
Overall Grade: 86.0 (Run Defense 80, Tackling 86, Coverage 92)
Though he still has a ways to go in his development as a rookie starter, one could easily be fooled watching Woolen right now and think he's a multi-time All-Pro. Emerging as a turnover-creating machine in his first year in Seattle, the fifth-round pick out of UTSA continued staking his claim for Defensive Rookie of the Year when he recovered a fumble by Kamara late in the second quarter. Moments later, Smith hooked up with Lockett to push the Seahawks back in front 19-17. In the third quarter, Riq the Freak was at it again, quickly changing direction out of bail technique to undercut a curl route and intercept Dalton at midfield for another turnover. Aside from a questionable defensive holding penalty called against him, the first-year sensation turned in another outstanding effort, allowing two catches for 15 yards and a 38.9 passer rating when targeted.
Overall Grade: 83.5 (Receiving 90, Pass Blocking 80*, Run Blocking 77)
*Weighted for two pass blocking snaps
Trying to integrate Fant into Seattle's passing attack has been a slow process thus far, but over the past few weeks, Smith has shown increased trust in the athletic pass-catching tight end. Targeted five times, the former first-round pick out of Iowa nearly equaled his season total through four games with 49 yards on three receptions. Turning in his longest catch of the season thus far, he initially took an inside release on a play action pass before working his way back outside on a corner route. With two defenders on his tail, Smith squared himself up and hit the tight end in stride, feathering the pass over the top of a diving Paulson Adebo for 32 yards. He also caught a first down reception on the second play of the game with Smith firing a missile over the middle in congested traffic. Away from receiving, Fant picked up a blitz successfully on one of his two pass blocking reps and continues to be a pleasant surprise in that area of his game.
Other Notable Performances
Nearly hitting the 100-yard mark for a second straight game, a dropped touchdown and a fumble hurt DK Metcalf's overall grade (78.5) despite hauling in a 50-yard score to open the game. Turning in one of his better games as a pro, Charles Cross allowed two pressures and no quarterback hits on 30 pass blocking reps, earning a steady 77.0 overall mark. Abraham Lucas yielded the first sack of his NFL career, but didn't allow any other pressures and performed well against Cameron Jordan most of the game for a 76.0 mark. In the interior, Gabe Jackson was near-flawless in pass protection before exiting with a knee injury, giving up no pressures on 17 snaps for a 90.0 pass blocking grade. Ken Walker III would have potentially been in the top five thanks to a 69-yard touchdown run, but his pass protection was abysmal as he allowed three pressures on three pass blocking opportunities, lowering his grade to 73.0.
Making his first start of the season, Ryan Neal stuffed the stat sheet with eight tackles and a pass breakup while also contributing to a forced fumble made by rookie cornerback Coby Bryant, receiving a quality 79.0 grade. Beside him, Quandre Diggs had a difficult afternoon by his standards with a 71.0 grade, missing a pivotal tackle on Hill's 60-yard touchdown. While he allowed a touchdown that didn't come without controversy, Bryant forced a fumble for a second straight week and also registered a pass breakup, earning himself a season-best 77.5 grade. Linebacker Jordyn Brooks made several big hits on Sunday, but he also allowed a touchdown to tight end Adam Trautman in coverage and missed a pair of tackles, lowering his score to 72.0. Next to him, Cody Barton didn't miss any tackles and led the team with 13 combined stops, though many of those tackles came several yards downfield and he didn't pick up Alvin Kamara on a 54-yard screen play, leading to a 70.0 grade. Only one edge rusher – Boye Mafe – generated a quarterback hit on the afternoon, receiving a 72.5 grade with some gap miscues as a run defender. Darrell Taylor made a few stops in the run game but didn't generate a single pressure, dropping his score to 65.0.
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