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Seahawks defense only team to ever allow more than 1,200 passing yards through three weeks

While Russell Wilson is setting records for the Seahawks offense, their pass defense is setting records of their own and not the good kind.

In the first three games of the season against the Atlanta Falcons, New England Patriots and Dallas Cowboys, the Seahawks have allowed an average of 430.7 yards per game passing. They allowed 434 yards to Matt Ryan and the Falcons, 397 yards to Cam Newton and the Patriots, and a season-high 461 yards to Dak Prescott and the Cowboys on Sunday.

“It’s not something I am accustomed to. It is not something I want to be accustomed to,” linebacker Bobby Wagner said.

The 1,292 passing yards allowed in the first three games of the season is the most in league history over that span since at least 1950, via Pro-Football-Reference. They are the only team over 1,200 yards allowed with the 2011 Patriots trailing by a 161 yards at 1,131 yards as the previous benchmark. The 2005 San Francisco 49ers (1,107) and 2010 Houston Texans (1,106) are the only other teams to allow even 1,100 passing yards over the first three games of the year.

“We have a lot of work to do on our pass defense; it continues to be a problem. The third down thing is not good enough. We have to finish our sacks, again. But what did happen is some really big plays today on defense,” head coach Pete Carroll said after the game on Sunday. “Guys giving efforts and fighting and scratching to get it done. We just have to get better. We are grateful to be 3-0, and realize that not very many teams get to do that right now. So, we’re going to just try to keep pecking away at it.”

Carroll defines explosive plays allowed as runs of at least 12 yards and passes of at least 16 yards. By this measure, the Seahawks have already allowed 33 explosive pass plays in three games. They’ve allowed 13 passes of at least 25 yards with Prescott and Cowboys responsible for seven of those on Sunday alone. Michael Gallup had catches of 52 yards behind Shaquill Griffin and a 43-yard touchdown behind Tre Flowers. Cedrick Wilson had two touchdown receptions of 42 and 40 yards, respectively, and Dalton Schultz, CeeDee Lamb and Amari Cooper all had catches for 28 yards.

“The big thing in the throwing game is we’ve got to get the big plays out of it,” Carroll said Monday. “We got to eliminate these big plays and (to) let them throw the ball over our head is inexcusable. And we got to let that just drop by the wayside and things will round back up in, I think, really short order.”

The passing game is the big issue for Seattle defense because they’ve been quite proficient against the run. They are ranked No. 2 in the league in rushing yards allowed with just 66.7 yards per game allowed on the ground. But the passing game issues have them allowing an average of almost 500 yards per game overall at 497.3 yards per game. Only last year’s Miami Dolphins (1,498) have allowed more total yards through three games than the 2020 Seahawks (1,492).

“The first thing I’m frustrated by is we’ve had maybe five interceptions in our hands,” Carroll said. “Quinton (Dunbar) had three in the first two games (caught one). Tre’s had two and Shaq got one you know so they’ve been on the ball for some of the plays, but everything doesn’t look right to me when we get the ball thrown over our head twice in the same game. That’s not supposed to happen and you don’t remember seeing that very often against us. And it’s really good execution on their part, both balls (to Gallup) were really well thrown and all but we should be on both of them. So, I’m never gonna be satisfied until the deep ball part of the game (is better).”

If the pass defense doesn’t get any better, the Seahawks will need Wilson to produce to such an extent that he runs away with the MVP this year for them to keep winning.