Rookie Devon Witherspoon scores on 97-yard pick-6 as Seahawks' defense leads Seattle over Giants

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Seattle Seahawks cornerback Devon Witherspoon (21) gets by New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones (8), wide receiver Parris Campbell (0) and wide receiver Wan'Dale Robinson (17) after intercepting a pass to run it back for a touchdown during the third quarter of an NFL football game, Monday, Oct. 2, 2023, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – With all the points the Seattle Seahawks were scoring this season, it was easy to overlook their defense.

They were excellent against the run, but Seattle's pass defense had been struggling.

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A new "Legion of Boom" appeared on Monday night and wreaked havoc on Daniel Jones and the New York Giants.

Rookie cornerback Devon Witherspoon scored on a 97-yard interception return late in the third quarter and the Seahawks tied a team record with 11 sacks in a 24-3 victory over the struggling and offensively inept Giants.

“We’re just getting going,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. “We’re just putting it together. A night like this for our defense to play that explosively. I can’t remember seeking double-digit sacks.”

Geno Smith threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to DK Metcalf late in the first quarter after a strip-sack by defensive end Mario Edwards Jr. set up a short drive and Kenneth Walker III scored on a 1-yard run just before halftime as the Seahawks (3-1) won their third straight.

A fourth-quarter interception by Quandre Diggs set up a 34-yard field goal by Jason Myers as Seattle improved to 6-0 at MetLife Stadium, including the franchise's only Super Bowl win, a 43-8 decision over Denver following the 2013 season.

Besides the sacks, Seattle held New York, which played without star running back Saquon Barkley (ankle) for the second straight game, to 248 yards, 6 of 16 on third down and forced three turnovers.

Bobby Wagner, Jordyn Brooks, Witherspoon and Uchenna Nwosu each had two sacks.

“I think we needed it. Easy game defensively,” said Wagner, who also had 17 tackles. “We’ve been getting better. We’ve done a good job stopping the run, but the thing was applying pressure. The last game we had a lot of pressures but not as many sacks. I think this game we turned those pressures into sacks.”

Graham Gano kicked a 55-yard field goal for the Giants (1-3), who have played one good half in four games this season and have looked nothing like the team that made the playoffs last season for the first time since 2016.

Seattle had a 14-3 lead late in the third quarter when the Giants moved from their 43 to the Seahawks 5. On second-and-goal, Jones tried to hit Parris Campbell and the receiver seemed to stumble. Jones' pass went to Witherspoon, the No. 5 overall pick in the draft, and he scored almost untouched crossing from the right side of the field to the left to make it 21-3.

“It was a play that we had seen on film formation,” Witherspoon said of his first NFL interception. “He ran basically a return route. I jumped it. He threw the ball and just tried to get to the box. That was my whole mindset.”

The Giants' offense has really struggled the past two games without Barkley and left tackle Andrew Thomas missing his third straight game with a hamstring injury.

“No excuses, we didn't get the job done,” New York coach Brian Daboll said.

The Seahawks didn't do a lot against the Giants' defense. The only real drive they had was seven plays for 75 yards just before halftime that was engineered by backup Drew Lock, who replaced Smith after he tweaked a knee and needed X-rays. The drive included a 51-yard pass to Noah Fant.

Smith, who returned for the second half, finished 13 of 20 for 110 yards. A battered Jones was 27 of 34 for 203 yards. He ran 10 times for 66 yards.

This was the Giants' second home game this season and both have been ugly. There were mostly Cowboys fans in the stands after a 40-0 season-opening loss, and the fans left at the end of this one wore Seahawks colors.

“I’d be upset, too, if I was the fans,” Daboll said. “So there’s a lot of things we’ve got to do better and that’s what we’re going to do.”

STRANGE START

Seattle's first offensive play from scrimmage took about five minutes. Walker took a handoff and headed right. Inside linebacker Bobby Okereke broke through and seemingly made a tackle for a 2-yard loss. For a moment everyone on the field stopped.

Walker thought his body never touched the turf and he got up and ran 20 yards downfield, stopped and then went to the end zone, where an official ruled it was a touchdown.

There was a long review of the scoring play and videotape showed Walker's elbow hit the turf. The TD call was reversed.

INJURIES

Seattle: S Jamal Adams sustained a concussion on the opening series after being hit in the helmet while attempting to tackle Jones. Adams was playing in his first game since tearing his quadriceps in the 2022 opener. RG Phil Haynes aggravated an calf injury and had to leave in the first half. G Damien Lewis (ankle) left in the second quarter.

Giants: Rookie C John Michael Schmitz (shoulder) and No. 2 tight end Daniel Bellinger (knee) left the game in the first half.

UP NEXT

Seahawks: Following a bye week, at Cincinnati on Oct. 15.

Giants: at Miami on Sunday.

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AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl