Ok, let’s see…. My prediction/advice on Friday was the Seahawks should try to shut down the Patriots short, inside passing game and take their chances on the long game in hopes that the Seahawks could put more pressure on Brady that way. What happened was Brady was untouched nearly all day, had ample time to sit in a roomy pocket, and hit multiple receivers all over the middle and flanks almost at will. I thought the game would be decided based on the Seahawk defense stopping Tom Brady and his #1 ranked offense. What happened? He shredded Seattle’s defense completing 36 of 58 passes for 395 yards. I sarcastically “fantasized” about the idea that Russell Wilson would go wild passing and the offense would score more than one touchdown. What happened? Wilson had his best game as a passer, completing 16 of 27 for 293 yards and 3 touchdowns, no interceptions and a passer rating of 133. I couldn’t have been more exact in the wrong-ness of my prediction/advice. But the Seahawks won the game anyway. How did they do it? Well…Differently. This was not the usual Seahawk game at all, with suffocating defense and just enough offense to register a pulse. Here’s how it broke down:
Defense – Bottom line, the Seattle defense gave up a lot of yardage to the Patriot’s offense. That’s different. Watching Brady roll his offense up and down the field all day you might have gotten the impression Seattle’s defense was having a bad day. But closer inspection reveals they held up nicely in the red zone, having held the Patriots out of the end zone 5 out of 6 times, including two trips inside the 20 where New England didn’t score at all. What could have been a sure 3 points (and possible winning margin) for New England just seconds before the half was essentially taken off the scoreboard for an intentional grounding call due to pressure from Seattle’s defense. Between the 20’s Seattle uncharacteristically failed to get pressure on Brady until the absolute last moment where it would have mattered right at the end of the game after Seattle fought back to a 1 point advantage. A Brady sack and a short 4th down pass ended it.
The offense – For two quarters, the second and third, the Hawks failed to be a credible threat to score, were hit with drive ending penalties, and looked like they had in many previous bad periods of the last 5 games. But for quarters one and four, they were pure magic. Wilson dialed up nearly a half a dozen long bomb throws that we just aren’t used to seeing in Seattle, with this team or past teams. Definitely different. If this is a sign of things to come, we’re in for a real treat. Sydney Rice even got in on the long bomb action with a pass to Tate that gave Seattle a huge gain on a pass interference call. Marshawn Lynch was uncharacteristically held to just 41 yards on 15 carries. But Lynch’s and Robert Turbin’s primary contributions came in the form of 11 and 15 yard receptions at key times in drives. Different.
Special Teams – There was a fumbled snap just before the half on a Ryan punt that left fan’s heads shaking. That was different. But Ryan is entitled to a mistake once in a while considering the horrible field position he continually leaves opposing offenses in. The Hawks escaped that with Brady’s grounding call, so no harm done. But there was also a key Leon Washington 25 yard runback when the Seahawks needed it the most in the fourth quarter, that put the team on their 43, within striking distance of the goal line with just under 2 minutes. That was one of the few familiar looking moments of the game as Mr. Washington makes a routine of running through a forest of flying bodies with the game on the line.
Coaching – Wow! Darrell Bevell’s gutsy play calls late in the game were keys. A forth and short play call at New England’s 10 yard line that ended up as a Braylon Edwards touchdown pass was different, and incredible. And my personal favorite; punting with 3:20 left to play, down by 6. And then deciding to call a long bomb up the middle to Rice at about the 1:25 mark was probably not the call fans or New England was expecting. But it was good for a 46 yard TD and the win. And about that Sydney Rice pass to Golden Tate? Different.
Russell Wilson – He had the long throw dialed in. He also seemed to have better vision downfield when he had to scramble, throwing on the run for several nice completions. He stayed in the pocket a little longer today, but when things got a little too tight he used his legs to get first downs and keep drives alive. He played smart, putting balls where only his receivers could catch them. This isn’t too different for Wilson, but he was more successful. Maybe it was due to better pass blocking and only 1 personal foul by Breno Giacomini. That was different.
Games like this one, a tough comeback win with clutch play makers, are what coaches dream about to teach their team “how to win”. And it’s just in time to infuse the Seahawks with the confidence they will need to face a continuing tough schedule. Let’s hope the team learned how to persevere against one of the best there is. Next up, San Francisco. I have a feeling that game may be a little different too. But in a good way.