By John Boyle
If I’d have told you before the game that the Seahawks and Buccaneers would go to overtime, you’d have called me crazy. And if I’d have said the same after the Seahawks fell behind 21-0, well you’d probably call it crazy for an entirely different reason.
Yet that’s what happened, and in the end, the Seahawks found a way to come back and win a game that for the second week in a row left you thinking the Seahawks, despite an 8-1 record, have some very real flaws they need to clean up.
A few quick notes on the win…
—The 21-point deficit Seattle overcame was a franchise record, eclipsing the 1995 win in which the Seahawks trailed Denver 20-0 and won 31-27.
—Seattle’s 12-game home winning streak matches a franchise best, joining the 12-game streak that took place from 2004-2006.
—Russell Wilson’s fourth-quarter interception was his first in the red zone in his career, a pretty crazy stat for a guy who started 16 games as a rookie.
—Sunday was Wilson’s first multi-interception game since he threw two in Carolina in Week 5 last season.
—Wilson is not only unbeaten at home in his Seahawks career, he also didn’t lose a home game as a senior at Wisconsin, meaning he last experienced defeat at home in 2010 at NC State.
—With four more win, which seems likely at this point, Wilson would have more wins in his first two seasons than any QB in NFL history. Wilson is 19-6 as a starter in the regular season so far, which is three fewer wins than Ben Roethlisberger had in his first two years in Pittsburgh (you might remember how one of those seasons ended).
—Earl Thomas had a team-high 12 tackles, putting his team-leading total to 69.
—Michael Bennett had another sack, upping his team-high total to 5.5.
And a few thoughts…
1. Wilson was really good, except when he was bad
Yes, Russell Wilson did throw a pair of picks, both of which cost the Seahawks points, but he also made plays that few, if any, other quarterbacks could make, allowing the Seahawks to come back. That play where he eluded two pass rushers, then fired a 35-yard strike while rolling to his left that Doug Baldwin hauled in with yet another amazing sideline catch? Not sure another QB in the league has the combination of athleticism, elusiveness and arm strength/accuracy to make that play. Seriously, watch it again. That’s a pretty amazing throw, made all the more impressive by the fact that few other QBs would have still been standing to even attempt it.
“That little quarterback is amazing back there,” Baldwin said. “He’s poised, takes the hits and he keeps getting back up. I know today he got hit a lot, you could see it in his eyes. He was hurting a little bit, but he found a way to pull it out, and that’s resilience.”
Added Golden Tate, “Russ, I don’t even understand how he does it, but his mental state of mind is phenomenal. Regardless if he throws an 80-yard touchdown or runs for a touchdown or fumbles or throws a pick, he’s going to come back excited for the next play. He never gets discouraged. He comes in as a leader like, ‘Hey, we’re good, we’re going to get the ball back.’ You’ll never see Russ out there (swearing at) guys, or yelling at guys. He’s encouraging, he’s positive.”
2. And seriously, how good is Doug Baldwin at those sideline catches?
In Carolina, Houston and now this game, Baldwin has made amazing sideline catches to sustain drives, all of which came after Wilson bought time with his legs. Baldwin had a team-high six catches for 75 yards, including the game-tying score with 1:51 left on the clock, but none was better than that third-quarter sideline catch.
3. Marshawn Lynch is still a beast as long as the Seahawks let him be
Lynch had a bit of a knee injury, and according to Pete Carroll was also sick, but he still managed 125 yards on 21 carries, and basically set up the overtime field goal by himself. That’s quite a turnaround after he was limited to eight carries last week, and was noticeably upset about it.
“He understood the urgency we needed,” fullback Michael Robinson said. “We made it a point all week that we were going to establish the run and get him going. He definitely wanted it, he wanted every single yard. He was in Beast Mode today. He was upset and running mad, and I just keep him mad. That’s a good thing.”
4. Seattle’s run D needs some work
The Seahawks went from being one of the best run defenses in the league to giving up more than 200 rushing yards in back to back games. Obviously that’s an issue Carroll wants to see fixed immediately.
“Right now, we’re in a little bit of a funk in the running game,” Carroll said. “We’re not tackling very well. We’re trying to take the ball away so much that we’re not tackling very well. Until we fix that, we’re going to continue to struggle. It’s real obvious to me, what the difference is to me. We’re kind of going for too much, and trying a little bit too hard, and I think we can fix that. We’ll see if we can get it done. I didn’t notice it as much last week, but I think that’s really what’s going on. There’s a lot of yards after first contact by the running backs, so we need to do much better there.”
5. Russell Wilson is tough as hell, but protection needs to improve
Wilson has been taking hits all year, but he took more hard hits Sunday than he has in a single game. Perhaps the most misleading stat of the game was Tampa Bay not recording a sack. The didn’t sack Wilson, but they pummeled him nonetheless.
Wilson appeared to hurt his non-throwing hand or arm after being tackled on one completion, then five plays later he was hit low (probably illegally, but it went uncalled) and appeared gimpy for a moment, though he ran fine later in the game and walked without a limp after the game.
Even if Wilson did come out of the game without any serious injuries, as appears to be the case, those plays were a reminder that the Seahawks need to do a better job keeping him clean.
“He got pounded again today more than we would like,” Carroll said. “He’s a bit banged up from it, and I’m hoping that we can protect him better. We’ll see what happens.”
6. Golden Tate has earned a green light on punt returns
Teams normally wouldn’t want to see a punt returner catching a ball at the 4-yard line, but that’s what Tate did in the third quarter, returning it 71 yards while breaking six tackles. That play set up a field goal and helped spark Seattle’s comeback. Conventional wisdom says Tate should have let that ball go, likely leading to a touchback, but he saw enough daylight to make an unconventional decision, and it led to one of the biggest plays of the day.
“I loved Golden’s explosive punt return, that just kind of let you know that we’re here, that we’re coming for this win,” Carroll said. “It was an incredible play.”