The underrated Geno Smith, Seahawks keep winning

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Wearing a black hoodie over his cropped hair, Tyler Lockett appeared a little annoyed at the question his team still didn’t get enough respect nationally after their fourth straight win.

But when the Seattle Seahawks stack wins, the cat-fast receiver knows national watchers must be reluctant to give this surging team some love.

“At this point we don’t really care about the doubters anymore,” said the 30-year-old veteran bankruptcy trustee. “We already knew what we could do and achieve as a team. So we’re just going to keep following this trend and keep celebrating each other. We have a great team. We have great coaches. We have everything we need here.

“The biggest thing is that you get caught up in what the outside world says you’re too comfortable with. And we’re just going to keep going and getting better. And if people want to talk about us, that’s cool. But at the end of the day we remember what they said earlier this season.”

Leading the line of players slandered earlier this year was Seattle quarterback Geno Smith. However, Russell Wilson’s replacement is playing better than the quarterback, who traded for a number of picks and players this offseason.

The Seahawks aren’t winning despite Smith, they’re winning because of him.

That simple truth was made clear in that team’s 31-21 win over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday at State Farm Stadium.

Adam Amin and Daryl Johnston end the Seahawks’ winning streak after defeating the Cardinals

Adam Amin and Daryl Johnston end the Seahawks' winning streak after defeating the Cardinals

FOX commentators Adam Amin and Daryl Johnston analyze the Seattle Seahawks’ 31-21 win over the Arizona Cardinals.

Case in point: Smith threw a terrifying interception aimed at running back Ken Walker III that tipped Cardinals linebacker Zaven Collins onto himself and returned 30 yards to score, giving Arizona in the third quarter at 14: 10 and 9:26 lead.

Smith could have put his head down and pouted after that momentum suction play. But instead he admitted the mistake and told his team on the sidelines “My bad”. And then Smith used his arm and legs to lead Seattle to a 13-play total for 75 yards that gave them the final 17-14 lead after a 9-yard touchdown throw against Lockett.

Smith’s ability to push through adversity has become a calling card for the entire team. He finished 24 of 36 for 275 yards with two touchdown passes and the interception. Smith also rushed for another 38 yards.

“I have faith in myself,” Smith said of the interception. “I know what I can do. I play in the NFL. This is the highest level. There are players out there who will make great games. Sometimes the ball won’t bounce in your direction, but you can’t let it bother you. And after all I’ve been through, things like that won’t bother me.

Not only Smith, but also his teammates are undeterred by these mistakes.

“We all have an underdog story,” said Seattle safety Ryan Neal. “So when you go out and see Geno doing something like that, it shows the theme of that team, the heartbeat of that team. Us against the world.”

Cardinals’ Kyler Murray loses his cool in loss to Seahawks

Cardinals' Kyler Murray loses his cool in loss to Seahawks

Kyler Murray had a heated conversation with DeAndre Hopkins in the first half.

Smith was lucky too. Twice the Cardinals failed to lock in secured interceptions in their own territory that would have thwarted Seattle scorers. And the very next game, Smith made them pay with touchdowns to DK Metcalf and Lockett.

Smith led the Seahawks in three long touchdown scoring drives as Seattle took control of the game in the second half. The Seahawks finished 10 of 15 in third place and at one point converted seven third-place chances seven straight times.

Then Seattle used Walker to end the game. The hardened runner refused to be tackled in the later stages and rushed for 62 of his game-high 109 yards in the fourth quarter. Walker also published two results.

Since picking up the starting spot for the injured Rashaad Penny in Week 6, Walker has been the NFL’s No. 3 in rushing yards (424) and first in rushing touchdowns (6).

“It’s textbook how we want our identity to be,” said Seahawks rookie right tackle Abe Lucas. “We want to be great finishers. Our positional (offensive line) coach Andy Dickerson preaches that. It won’t always be pretty, but he called the ugly burden — how much are you willing to work to get the job done, you know what I mean?

“You can end up with really lousy technique, but when you get the job done, that’s what matters.”

That’s pretty much the Seahawks in a nutshell. The Seahawks lead the NFC West with a 6-3 record, and they’re doing so with an identity and culture head coach Pete Carroll created when he first took over over a decade ago — play a good defense, take Get the ball away, run the football and have an efficient, resilient individual like Smith at the controls.

“You can see it,” Carroll said. “It can not be denied. They can see we’re capable of playing good ball and I want them to know. I want them to see it, and I’m not afraid to speak up about it – and show them what they’re capable of, so reset our expectations.”

Eric D. Williams has been covering the NFL for more than a decade, covering the Los Angeles Rams for Sports Illustrated, the Los Angeles Chargers for ESPN and the Seattle Seahawks for the Tacoma News Tribune. Follow him on Twitter at @eric_d_williams.

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