Note: I haven’t been commenting much on the Seattle Seahawks so far this season. With the year ending injuries to key defensive stars Cliff Avril, Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor, plus the problems with the offensive line and the running game, I have been, more or less, in “wait and see” mode as regards this […]Read the Rest →
Through the first half of this tilt the Seattle team looked listless. The offense, outside of a couple of Marshawn Lynch runs, generated nothing as Russell Wilson was harried and sacked consistently by the stout Houston defense. All Pro Texans defensive lineman J.J. Watt and superb Texans linebacker Brian Cushing, a Pete Carroll product out of USC, were dominating the patchwork Seahawk offensive line that had been spliced together from rookies and replacements as a result of injuries to starters Max Unger, Russell Okung and Brenno Giacomini. The defense, uncharacteristically, was faring no better as Texans quarterback Matt Schaub, running back Arian Foster and receiver Andre Johnson were gashing the Hawks with runs and passes. By halftime the Texans had compiled total dominance on both the stat sheet and the scoreboard and were leading 20-3. For the Seahawk players it looked as if they were still on Seattle time while their bodies were going through the motions in Houston time.
At the half, if Russell Wilson can be believed, there was no panic. “In the locker room we just said ‘keep believing’,” he told a reporter after the game. The defense just needed to, “shut ‘em out,” in the second half and the Hawks would find a way to win.
Easier said than done! Winning this game would be a mighty tall order considering how things had gone in the first half.
As the second half got underway the Texans were still moving the ball but somehow Seattle kept them from scoring. Toward the end of the third quarter a Texans running back was stripped by a Hawk defender and linebacker Bobby Wagner recovered the fumble deep in Texan territory. Seattle still couldn’t move the ball and had to settle for a field goal to make it 20-6. The Seahawks held the Texans on the following possession and forced a punt. As the third quarter ended the Hawks had the ball with a second down and fifteen yards to go for a first down on their own two yard line. They wound up there as a result of a great Houston punt; two penalties and a Wilson fumble of Max Unger replacement Lemuel Jeanpierre’s center snap, which nearly resulted in a safety.
Understanding this you can see why most Hawk fans were nearly devoid of hope as the fourth quarter got under way. Their team had done nothing to that point to make them think that a win was in the cards. With the ball on their own two yard line, ninety-eight yards from pay dirt and losing by two touchdowns, the Texan sun was setting for Seattle in more ways than one.
It would take a miracle to win this game, and a miracle is what the Seahawks created; but it was a miracle composed of several miracles.
The first Hawk play of the fourth quarter was a swing pass to rookie fullback Derrick Coleman that gained three yards and left Seattle with a third and long at their own five. It was then that the magic dust started to settle over everything the Hawks did. On the next play Wilson retreated into his own end zone to pass. With the Texans rush bearing down on him he lofted a pass toward the left sideline about twenty yards down field. Dashing toward the sideline and tightly covered, Seattle’s slot receiver Doug Baldwin leaped for the ball, made the catch and tip toed the sideline before falling out of bounds. The referee and all the Texans players signaled incomplete but the TV replays clearly showed that Baldwin came down with both toes in bounds. Carroll challenged the play and the Hawks had a first and ten on their own thirty yard line. The play was a sign of things to come. Miracle number one was in the books.
The Seahawk drive continued with Marshawn Lynch suddenly finding running lanes and Russell Wilson suddenly reverting to his read option and scrambling form. Part of the reason for this, no doubt, was that Texans line backer Brian Cushing, who had been playing a marvelous game, had to leave the contest a few plays earlier with an apparent concussion; the result of Hawk magic dust falling on his helmet.
Man, that’s some heavy dust!
On several designed pass plays Wilson led J.J. Watt and his Houston cronies on merry chases as he broke out of the pocket for long gains. Lynch likewise broke off several good runs. As a result the Hawks had the ball on the Texan 25 yard line with a first and ten. Things were looking good.
On the next play Wilson hit Jermaine Kearse with what looked to be a 25 yard TD pass but Kearse was called for offensive pass interference and a ten yard penalty. A similar long pass to Golden Tate went incomplete. Unfazed, Wilson followed these bits of misfortune with an amazing 13 yard scramble during which he turned a 360 in the pocket while leaving J.J. Watt lying flat on his face and avoiding what seemed to be almost every other Texans defender. A short pass to Baldwin followed and the Hawks had a first down at the Texans thirteen.
A false start five yard penalty followed by a Houston sack of Wilson, a Wilson 11 yard scramble and a ten yard pass to Tate left the Hawks with a fourth down and two yards to go for a first down at the Houston seven yard line. The stage was set for the next Hawk miracle.
With time running out in the game the Seahawks had no other option than to go for it on fourth down. A field goal would still leave it a two score game. The Hawks needed a touchdown. Wilson was in the shotgun as he took the snap and retreated to pass. Once again immediately under heavy pressure from his right, he went back to the twenty yard line, somehow got around the defender and turned back up the field, running for his life down the right side toward the first down marker. A defender closed on him at the ten but Wilson slipped the tackle and continued forward until he was blasted out of bounds at the three. He had scrambled about thirty yards to gain four, but the Hawks had their first down and their next miracle in the big miracle of this win at Houston had taken place.
On the next play Wilson pitched to Marshawn Lynch who walked into the left side of the end zone untouched. The extra point brought the Hawks to within a touchdown of Houston at 20-13. They had driven 98 yards to this score enduring everything that the Texans could throw at them. There were just under eight minutes left in the game.
After the ensuing kickoff Seattle held Houston and forced a punt. The Hawks took over and moved the ball into Texans territory. On a third and eight from the Houston forty-six yard line Wilson made a mistake that, but for the Seahawk magic in this game, could well have proved fatal. Once again scrambling for his life, Wilson tried to connect with Jermaine Kearse on a crossing route, but the throw led him too much and a Texans defender intercepted. The Houston fans went nuts. With just over five minutes left in the game they thought the Texans could now run out the clock.
The Houston fans thought wrong. They couldn’t have known it at the time, but the stage was being set for the next Seattle miracle.
The Texans started their drive at their own forty-two yard line and through a series of Arian Foster runs moved the ball to the Seahawk forty. It was then that Matt Schaub took a snort of that Seahawk magic dust and took leave of his senses. With blitzing safety Kam Chancellor in his face he tried to float a pass to his tight end Owen Daniels on the right side of the field. Obscured from Schaub’s view, behind Daniels, lurked Seahawk cornerback Richard Sherman. As the ball fluttered toward the tight end Sherman jumped the route and, ripping the ball from Daniels’ hands, took off toward the end zone running like he’d just stolen something, which in fact he had. Sprinting so fast that he ran right out of his shoe, no one was going to catch Richard Sherman. The Hawks kicked the extra point and with two minutes and forty seconds left in the game they had tied the score at 20-20.
After the Richard Sherman interception there was no denying the Seahawks, but it took them eleven minutes of the overtime period to do it. Another minor miracle occurred when a Houston defender inexplicably body slammed Doug Baldwin to the turf after he had been stopped, thus incurring a 15 yard personal foul penalty which took the Hawks into field goal range. They won the game by a score of 23-20 when Steven Hauschka kicked a forty-five yard field goal a few moments later. The big miracle had taken place. The Seahawks had gone on the road to a hostile city, played without three of their starting offensive linemen, been outplayed for three quarters of a game by an excellent NFL football team, and still found a way to win.
As Russell Wilson had requested and intended at half time, the Seattle defense shut out the Texans in the second half and the Hawks never quit and never stopped believing they could come back and win.
Maybe that is the real magic of this team. Whatever Kool-Aid Carroll and company have them drinking, it has resulted in a resilient, positive and “never- say-die” bunch who, regardless of what happens, never think they are out of a game.
As long as they think that way they aren’t. As long as they think that way they will make their own miracles, like they did today in Texas.
So, Hawk fans, do you believe in miracles?
If not, if you are going to follow this Seahawk team, you should start. They will make believers out of you real fast, and just may take us all on one miraculous ride before this season is over.
Copyright © 2013
By Mark Arnold
All Rights Reserved