By David Krueger Herald Writer Herald Writer
SEATTLE – The Seattle Seahawks offense came to life at just the right time.
The Seahawks, and quarterback Russell Wilson, struggled in the second half and found themselves with a 3rd-and-3 and 2:57 to play in the game. With the New Orleans defense stacking the box, waiting for a run, Wilson dropped back and threw a 24-yard strike to wide receiver Doug Baldwin for a critical first down.
One play later, running back Marshawn Lynch ran 31 yards for the game-clinching touchdown.
“I thought it was really a perfect play,” said receiver Golden Tate. “We could have ran it but everyone and their mother were expecting the run and we were singled outside, it was exactly what we wanted and we executed. It’s no different from practice for us.”
The play caught many by surprise, including the New Orleans defense, which scrambled to recover and cover the Seattle receivers.
One person who wasn’t surprised: Baldwin.
“I kind of expected it,” Baldwin said. “During the week we had been running that play. The thought process was that it would be third-and-short and they were going to try to stuff the run and prevent us from getting the first down running the ball. It worked the way we thought it would.”
Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said the offense was still making an effort to get first downs and use up clock.
“We were trying to make a first down,” Carroll said. “We were still in a mode where we thought we needed to make first downs, and so I was encouraging (offensive coordinator Darrell) Bevell to be aggressive with his call. We got something that we do a lot. We got a great look and it was an incredibly perfect throw, and a great job of making the catch.”
With the wind blowing and the rain pouring down, Wilson had thrown for just 79 yards before that play. It was the fifth consecutive game with subpar numbers for the second-year quarterback, who finished 9 of 18 for 103 yards and a quarterback rating of 67.6.
“That third down conversion going towards the Hawk’s Nest to Doug Baldwin was unbelievable,” Wilson said. “… Doug Baldwin had an unbelievable route and made a great catch on the sideline.”
The key first down kept the Seahawks’ offensive drive alive. Lynch finished it off with a touchdown run down the to left sideline on the next play.
Lynch finished with 28 carries for 140 yards.
“He’s an outstanding guy and you knew he was going to wear them down eventually,” Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman said of Lynch. “He was running hard every play. I don’t know how many rushes he had, close to 20, but he gets to wear you down. He may not have the big ‘Beast Mode,’ ‘Beastquake’ play that he had before, but he’s going to make a huge impact on the game and he made sure he did.”
The big first down and touchdown energized the Seahawks’ defense, which had been working hard in the second half to keep New Orleans out of the end zone before the final quarter.
“That was huge. Doug is not the tallest guy, not the biggest guy but he has heart,” said Seahawks safety Earl Thomas. “That’s one thing scouts don’t understand. It doesn’t matter about a guy’s size, it matters (what’s) on the inside. You can also put Russell Wilson in that category. He stayed in the moment. That was a gutsy call right there and that was very big for us.”
The Seahawks receivers are hoping to build off that big play and continue to improve and help get the Seattle offense back on track.
“We’ve got to stay in it,” Baldwin said. “No matter what the score is, if we’re up if we’re down, if it’s a boring game or an exciting game, we’ve got to make the plays when we get the opportunity to do so. It was a tough game all day passing-wise, when we got our opportunities to make plays we did so.”