HOUSTON — Houston Texans coach Gary Kubiak was surely stunned by the Seahawks’ wild overtime victory on Sunday, but not so much that he couldn’t find the perfect description of the Russell Wilson-led Seattle rally.
“Some of the stuff he did was magical,” Kubiak said of Wilson. “Some of the things that kid does … it’s just incredible.”
It’s easy to focus on Wilson, but there were quite a few other Seahawks sprinkling magic dust at Reliant Stadium in the fourth quarter and overtime, when they scored 17 points to pull out a 23-20 win and salvage a game in which they looked inept and over-matched for most of the day.
And now they’re 4-0 for the first time in franchise history, and are even more convinced that there’s nothing they can’t accomplish, and every fairy tale can come true.
“We call that grit,” Seattle head coach Pete Carroll said of the team’s bouncing back from a 20-3 halftime deficit. “That game was all about grit. You just had to keep hanging and not let all of the things that happened build up and stop you from believing.”
Well, coach, your team seemed to be failing at everything that was crucial to defeating Houston. You wanted to protect Wilson, but he was sacked five times. You wanted to stop the Texans’ rushing attack, but they picked up 151 yards. And you needed to shut down receiver Andre Johnson, but he had nine catches for 110 yards.
But late in the third period, Doug Baldwin made another toe-tapping sideline catch that had to be reviewed to be believed. And Wilson started dancing away from Texan rushers to key a 98-yard drive — which in itself exceeded the Seahawks’ total for the entire first half, and brought them back to within seven at 20-13.
And there it stayed until the irrepressible Richard Sherman stepped in and returned an interception 58 yards for the tying score with less than 3 minutes remaining in the game.
This play was not so much magic as the meeting of genius and stupidity. Seattle’s defensive coordinator Dan Quinn had spotted a play the Texans liked on short yardage. He designed a scheme to stop it, which they tried out in practice on Friday and cornerback Sherman intercepted it and returned it for a touchdown. The genius, there, was in the coaching.
The stupidity? That’s in the Houston staff deciding it’s a good idea to try to throw a pass anywhere near Richard Sherman with the game on the line. Have they never watched film of this man?
Sherman was running so fast he threw a shoe. “It might be the longest return without a shoe in the NFL (history),” he kidded.
But a prince found the shoe and tried it on Sherman’s foot and it was a perfect fit.
And once the score was tied and game had gone into overtime, the shell-shocked Texans could not contain Wilson’s scrambles, and then committed a crucial personal foul on a catch by Baldwin to set up the game-winning field goal by Stephen Hauschka.
Here’s the thing about the tone of the Seahawks’ locker room. There was joy but not a hint of surprise.
“We’re the real deal,” linebacker Bobby Wagner said. “We knew that it might be a pick or a fumble or a big play by the offense, but we knew somebody would come up with something to help us win the game, because that’s how we are.”
“When we were down and things aren’t going well, there’s never a sense of doubt,” Sherman said. “Guys always believe.”
So, Wilson was asked if a comeback like this builds the team’s confidence. He shook his head. Their confidence can’t get higher than it already is.
“I think it keeps us the same,” he said. “That never changes with our football team. We just believe in each other, all the time, no matter what the circumstances.”
And if anybody in that locker room still had any doubts about Carroll’s theories about competing every play regardless of the score, and that games are never out of reach, Sunday’s ridiculous rally was pretty convincing.
“It really helps me,” Carroll laughed when reminded of his preaching about competing and finishing games. “That’s exactly what happened today. The character of this team was really challenged today. There were so many times when they could have said, okay, not today, but they would just not go there.”
And then they all boarded their unicorns and flew back to Seattle.