Here’s how the Seahawks grade out in their 40-34 overtime victory over the Tampa Buccaneers on Sunday at CenturyLink Field:
Russell Wilson covers up so many ills. Seattle’s quarterback gave his MVP campaign another shot in the arm by throwing for 378 yards and five touchdowns, including engineering a drive in 46 seconds that should have won the game at the end of regulation, then ensuring Tampa Bay had no shot in OT by marching right down the field and into the end zone in the extra period. Wilson’s connection with Tyler Lockett (13 catches, 152 yards, two TDs) has reached the inhuman level, and rookie DK Metcalf (six catches 123 yards, one TD) is emerging as a star. Running back Chris Carson had another 100-yard rushing effort, though most of those yards came on one play, and the team has to be concerned that he lost another fumble.
This was not Seattle’s defense’s best day. It started from the beginning, when the Seahawks allowed the Buccaneers to race right down the field for a touchdown on the game’s opening drive. The Seahawks couldn’t generate a pass rush on Tampa Bay quarterback Jameis Winston, despite blitzing constantly, and Winston and receiver Mike Evans had a field day. Seattle had just one takeaway against an offense that turned the ball over 11 times over the previous two games, and that came when Winston had the ball slip out of his hands. And only needing to prevent a touchdown in the final minutes, the defense couldn’t even do that.
Oh, Jason Myers. Seattle’s kicker had a disastrous performance, missing a 47-yard field goal and doinking an extra-point attempt off the upright in the second quarter, then missing wide right on a 40-yarder that would have won the game as time expired in the fourth quarter. Indeed, special teams could have cost Seattle the game at the end of the first half when the combination of Myers’ missed extra point and a long kickoff return nearly gifted Tampa Bay a field goal. The one saving grace was punter Michael Dickson booming all three of his punts.
There were good moments of recognition by Seattle’s coaches. When they saw a four-man pass rush was ineffective, they dialed up the blitz, so at least they were trying even if it wasn’t effective. Late in the game they targeted Bucs rookie cornerback Jamel Dean, who was abused by Metcalf both for the 53-yard go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter, as well as key plays in overtime. However, Pete Carroll just can’t resist throwing the challenge flag looking for a pass interference reversal, even though it’s clear the replay officials don’t want to overturn calls. This time it cost Seattle a timeout that could have been useful at the end of the fourth quarter.
The good news is the Seahawks once again showed they can overcome adversity, coming back from a 14-point first-half deficit and not being thrown for a loop by everything that went wrong at the end of regulation. The bad news is the degree of difficulty gets a whole lot harder starting now, as Seattle’s final seven games are against teams with a combined record of 40-18-1. Wilson is good enough to overcome other misfiring aspects of the team when playing against the likes of Tampa Bay and Atlanta. But the Seahawks can’t count on him alone when they face the undefeated San Francisco 49ers next Monday.