Just about everything that could go wrong for the Seahawks did for much of Sunday’s game in Houston.
Still, the Seahawks managed to find a way to win, coming back from 17 points down to beat the Texans 23-20 in overtime.
Seattle’s offensive line, which was starting three backups, was dominated by J.J. Watt and company, yet in the end it didn’t matter. The usually stingy defense was giving up yards and points at an alarming rate, yet in the end, that didn’t matter either.
In one of the more impressive regular-season victories in recent memory, the Seahawks overcame a terrible first half, came up with one massive 98-yard drive, a game-changing interception return for a touchdown, and found a way to improve to 4-0 for the first time in franchise history.
Let’s look at four takeaways from today’s game:
1. The D won’t always be perfect, but it’s darn resilient.
Last week, after Seattle’s win over Jacksonville, safety Earl Thomas said his team’s goal was to hold teams under 115 passing yards. Later in the week, cornerback Richard Sherman said under 100. On Sunday, the Seahawks allowed 325 passing yards, including 226 in the first half, and 476 total yards.
Yet after a forgettable first half, the defense tightened things up, holding the Texans scoreless in the second half and overtime. When the Seahawks desperately needed a big play after punting yet again in the third quarter, Malcolm Smith forced a fumble that Bobby Wagner recovered. That set up a field goal to make it a two score game.
Then with the Texans trying to hold on to a seven-point lead and run out the clock, Sherman, who had at times struggled covering Andre Johnson in the first half, made one of the biggest plays in his young career, intercepting a rather ill-conceived pass attempt by Matt Schaub and returning it 58 yards for the touchdown that tied the game.
The Texans still gained a decent number of yards in the second half and overtime, but after scoring on four straight possessions to end the first half, their possessions after the break ended punt, fumble, punt, punt, interception, punt, punt, punt.
2. Russell Wilson is a baaaaaaad man, even in a bad game.
Seattle’s second-year QB put up numbers Sunday that, to put it kindly, were rather pedestrian. He completed just 12 of 23 attempts for 123 yards, no touchdowns and an interception, good for a passer rating of 49.7. While some of the blame falls on Wilson’s shoulder, a lot of it had to do with the fact that Seattle was playing without starting left tackle Russell Okung, right tackle Breno Giacomini and center Max Unger. Wilson was sacked five times, and running for his life several more times.
Yet the difference between your run-of-the-mill NFL QB and Wilson is that, despite the offenses struggles, he was able to pull at least one game-changing drive out for his team when it needed it. With the Seahawks starting a late-third-quarter drive from their own 2-yard line down 14 points, they at the very least needed to change field position, but with a quarter left, they really needed a score of some sorts. After a fumbled exchange on the first play, the Seahawks had 99 yards to go, and they did just that, gaining 113 yards on 14 plays (they had 15 yards of penalties) to make it a one-score game. On that drive, Wilson completed four of five attempts for 46 yards and rushed for 52 more. On that drive Wilson pulled off a couple of crazy escapes that you wouldn’t believe if you saw them in a football movie, he helped his team convert on third-and-seven twice, then to cap it off scrambled for four yards to convert on fourth-and-three, setting up the touchdown.
3. “It doesn’t matter how you start, it matters how you finish,” is more than just a Pete Carroll cliché.
The Seahawks really don’t try to put themselves in these positions on the road. They’d love to start better. But they also truly have bought into what their coach preaches: those starts don’t determine the outcome of a game. In a playoff win in Washington last year, and the loss a week later in Atlanta, the Seahawks dug big holes, only to climb out of them. They did it again Sunday in Houston, and at this point, it would be foolish to count the Seahawks out of any game after two (or three) quarters.
4. It’s OK to dream big when it comes to the Seahawks. Really big.
If ever there was a game that just wasn’t meant to go in Seattle’s favor, it was this one. As mentioned earlier, three of Seattle’s five linemen were out, including two Pro Bowlers, and the Seahawks happened to be facing one of the most blitz-happy teams in the league, and one that employs the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year as its left defensive end — or in this game, the guy lining up across from rookie Michael Bowie, who was making his first NFL start.
Short of playing a game without Russell Wilson, it’s hard to imagine things being any worse for the offense. Then you factor in a rare bad half for the defense, and it seemed that the Seahawks were destined to lose a game there would be little shame in losing.
Instead the Seahawks battled back, found a way to win, and now you have to wonder, if not this game, which one do the Seahawks lose? And to be clear, I’m not predicting an undefeated season. That’s just too hard to do, and no matter how good the Seahawks have looked, it’s hard to imagine they won’t have one bad game they can’t overcome. But when you look at each game individually, it’s hard not to wonder who beats them if not the Texans, playing at home, with a 17-point lead. Undefeated may be an unrealistic dream, but the No 1 seed in the NFC seems like a very real possibility now more than ever.